Vegan Burgers, Gluten-Free Heaven: the Lucullus Hvar Experience
August 19, 2018 – Once known as Hvar’s craziest restaurant, Lucullus has reinvented itself with a new image and menu focused on vegan and gluten-free diners (but with many of the old classics too). Meat-loving TCN went to check out what a vegan burger actually tastes like. And other Lucullus stories.
It is more than six years since I visited perhaps the most unusual restaurant of my life in Hvar Town.
It was the first summer of Total Hvar, and I was slowly discovering the town of Hvar, not one I knew well. I had heard about this party restaurant just off the main square called Lucullus. The food was reported to be fantastic, and the owner was somewhat unorthodox. Quite how unorthodox I only discovered when I went for dinner with a friend. The waiters were armed with toy pistols, there was an awful lot of rakija being drunk, and when someone ordered the grilled fish, out came the owner, complete with scuba diving mask and assistant in surgical gear to perform the operation of the filleting of the fish. It was an absolutely fantastic evening, which I wrote about here. I guarantee that every guest had never had an experience like it, but they all loved it, and we made new friends on both neighbouring tables.
I was saddened to hear that Crazy Stipe would not be running in 2016, and I had to be content with my memories (for a night at Lucullus had become part of the summer routine). I was much cheered when he messaged me that he had decided to run Lucullus again this summer after a break of two years. But when he told me that he had changed his concept, with a focus less on the party and more on vegan and gluten-free food, I began to wonder if Lucullus was the place for me. Not known for my veganism and with no gluten issues, I could not quite place this new-look Lucullus as a preferred part of the Bradders dining team. Still, Stipe was a legend, the move was brave, and the boy had never disappointed before. I booked a table for my wife and I.
And what a delightful stone courtyard, just off the main square. What can I say? It was a little more grown-up, and the atmosphere was really pleasant.
And so to the food, where Stipe had promised a selection of vegan and gluten-free delights, in amongst his classics.
– gluten-free bread was made from various seeds (sunflower, flax, chia) and oats
– tapas: cherry tomato confit with garlic and orange + sunflower seed dip
– gazpacho was made with baked bell peppers and fresh tomatoes, cucumber and Mediterranean spices; without adding any water or store-bought tomato sauce
– tuna carpaccio – to die for.
And then he brought it – my first vegan burger. Stipe explained that when he first tried it, it was one of the top five burgers of his life. I asked him to pour me a particularly large glass of the excellent Krauthaker Pinor Noir, and I would be the judge of that. What the hell was it made of anyway?
– burger buns are our homemade whole grain potato bread with seeds and turmeric (same like the yellow bread that comes with tuna)
– burger patties are made from oyster mushrooms, carrots, borlotti beans, onions and oats
– all the dips in the burger are homemade in our kitchen (red pepper hummus, sunflower seed dip and caramelized onion with balsamic vinegar)
Hmmm. After a decent slug of Krauthaker, I took my first bite. Incredible! And if I had not known I was eating a vegan burger, I genuinely would not have guessed. I have not eaten as many burgers as Stipe in my life, so I will put it in my top three. Seriously good.
My wife opted for one of the Stipe classics – wild boar with lavender gnocchi (but without the gnocchi this time) – the fresh grilled vegetables were more than enough.
A little gluten-free dessert to finish:
– vegan mousse > tofu, cacao, cacao mass, coconut oil, agave nectar and sour cherry chia pudding in soy milk.
– carob brownie is classic brownie with a twist – made with fine dark chocolate, less sugar and less flour (it’s substituted with carob flour).
The verdict? Unbelievably good, and a very refreshing change to the Dalmatian classics. The atmosphere in the restaurant was perfect. Couples and groups having a great time in this delightful walled courtyard. And with live music five times a week from this excellent musician (now I wish I had filmed him closer to drown out the chat), Lucullus 2018 really is the complete night out.
Crazy Stipe may be gone, but Vegan and Gluten-Free Stipe is even better value. Try this restaurant.