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Hvar Restaurants Offer

This is very important issue and element in Hvar tourism offer or product. But very negatively percept and graded from the guests, and believe it or not, even from locals which don't have positive opinion on the restaurant offer. Simply putted Hvar restaurant offer is copy paste. If not from the menu stand point than from the year to year the same menus. The only thing which they change is (increasing) prices. All the menus practically are the same. Usuall Hvar restaurants offer is consisted out of sea food like: fish or lobsters in three ways: grilled, brudet(red fish stew) and traditional Hvar Gregada(white fish stew). Additional to this there’re sea food like grilled calamari, shells, mussels, scampi, prunes prepared on wine sauce locally known as buzzara, than prepared with pasta or risotto. Then there’re fried things like calamari, 2nd class fish. Out of the meat there is mix meat (grilled pork chops, ?evap?i?i or pljeskavica grilled minced meat etc...), beefsteak on three ways: grilled, in pepper sauce, and with mushrooms. Some of them offering lamb or veal under the peka(meat under the iron bell covered with the ash) or grilled lamb chops.
And that should be it. Yes forgot to add a cold cuts like salt anchovies, paté over and there, prosciutto (smoked Dalmatian ham) and cheese like from Livno in Bosnia and Herzegovina or Croatian Island Pag. And then desert which is consisted of : pancakes, ice cream in few flavours.
Maybe there are a few meals on the menu like certain meal named after the name of the restaurant like for example: ‘’Beefsteak a la Marija’’...
These meals are great and most delicious and I like them but gets boring if you start to feed yourself in the restaurants like I did one summer. I didn’t know what to order after first week course I tried everything. Can imagine what it’s like to a tourists and guests of Hvar. I don’t know what to recommend. And if I do than I have to call the owner of the restaurant and ask him to prepare something different.

Peka - meat under the iron bell Peka - meat under the iron bell (1)
Peka - meat (veal and lamb the best) under the iron bell

Above described, a lack of differentiation in restaurant offer should be the first and the BIGEST problem of Hvar restaurant offer. Don’t get me wrong, it’s OK to have restaurants with local and traditional meals BUT with such a great environment, ecologically reaching the highest standards, with the such amazing ingredients like fish, lobsters, other creatures from the most cleanest and non polluted sea, vegetables, fruits, wild plants, aromatic herbs, wine, olives under the 2718 hours of sun, Hvar should be a most desirable area, paradise to work for every restaurants chef.
But what do we get is restaurant routine. Lazy chefs, that don’t bother to use their imagination to create some new meals. But no, everybody in Hvar wants to be a ‘’all meal restaurant’’.
In some case I can understand the owners’ course season lasts about 5 months and they are all trying to fill their pockets to pass the winter period calm. Also I can understand chefs in cuisine who are working under the pressure(14 hours per day sometimes) for the 2 and half month of high summer season when certain tables in the restaurant gets turned 3 times in a night and then instead of kitchen being a ‘’food atelier’’, it becomes a factory. Even the most prestige restaurants in Hvar. What can they do when the demand is higher? Can’t blame them.

Macondo interior Ramiz Krhan main cheff of Macondo John Dory fish
One of the best traditional and local type restaurants in Hvar Macondo and its chef Ramo Krhan with dentex in his hand and grilled John Dory fish

But on the other side, why some of the restaurant can’t specialise and offer something different than the others. Like for example; there isn’t a vegetarian restaurant or part of the menu that offers that kind of the food, or just restaurant specialised for pastas and risotto. Or restaurants that are only offering the food prepared out of the ingredients that are coming from island of Hvar. I’m sure that the high price of supply for those local ingredients (always higher than the supplement from supermarket) can be subsidised with higher price of those meals. I’m sure that each guest that comes to Hvar will want having a meal in that restaurant. I sincerely hope that the situation will be changed in future. As matter effect, there some restaurants in the Hvar starting to specialise and positioning in the market with different menu or conception offer: like Mr.&Mrs Jones – in Jelsa but must visit place, Sora the first and only sushi bar in Hvar. Zori restaurant in Palmižana bay, Toto’s also in Palmižana, Zlatna Školjka, Luna, which offer standard but also different menus. Than Garifull and Macondo two best Hvar restaurants when we are talking about sea food. Both owned by local guys, natives which understand what means to offer top quality and fresh sea food products. These two are most recommended. Gariful is more sophisticated version of sea food restaurant then Macondo which is more traditional type of simple menus. But damn tasteful.

Zori outside sunset teracce Zori food (1) Zori food (14)
Zori restaurant in Palmižana bay

Also my favourite restaurant, But only when the owner Antun Car is cooking is the Lucullus restaurant. I consider Antun Car(car means Emperor) as the best chef in the Island and in the world. Look at him and everything will be clear to you. He’s the ultimate master, artist of food. I usually use him when I have VIP and need to impress somebody. Imagine him stepping outside of the kitchen with the 15 kg swordfish head, approaching to your table and saying what you will eat in HIS restaurant. You can’t argue against him. His Car(Emperor). When this happens prepare yourself for ultimate culinary experience you have never seen, tried before. Forget Michelin star restaurants, all the fancy places, French chefs – this is it. When Antun cooks, he needs to close the door of his restaurant because people want to come inside, break in; kill for the place in his joint.

Luccullus Antun Car (Emperor) owner (4) Luccullus
Antun Car (Emperor) and his restourant Lucullus

All of these restaurants have certain lacks (which I and some people see) but they are positioned as different and that’s why they are recommended.

Other problem is the wines. Hvar has almost 14 winemakers. 4 of the wineries among top 10 in Croatia and in my opinion (and some others) even worldwide – they won world appreciated contests like Vinalies d’ Or in Paris, Decanter etc... Amazing wines coming from, for wine industry, ideal positioned vineyards and area. Check our wine tours part of the page for more info.
Why the wine offer in the Hvar restaurants is big problem?
Because restaurant owners or who the hell is making prices are putting big margins or mar up on the bottled wines. Instead of that they are offering local, table wines often produced by themselves course a majority of them has vineyards. So for earning more, they are offering (better say pushing) their table wines (usually bad quality) not paying attention on the image, quality and guest satisfaction. You can eat the best Gregada in the world but what it’s worth when you drink awful table wine with that. I must be honest and say that there are majestic wines produced in private houses but mostly what they offer in restaurants is not close to that.
On the other hand 99% of the Hvar restaurants do not offer those bottles, quality wines on the glass. ‘’You need to take bottle’’ waiter will say. But I’m on the dinner with my wife and I don’t want to get drunk. Or I want to switch on red wine after appetizer’’. But no, they insist for you to take a bottle OR ‘’we can give you a 0,25 lit. of our house wine’’. You see how do they handle and push their wines. On the other hands I mentioned above they put 200%, or even more margins for the bottled wines which is immediately turning you down to order one.

Medvid wine Bastijana wine cellar Awarded_ecological_Ivan_Dolac_barrique_
Hvar wines

Now where is the solution for high mark ups and not poring the wines on glasses.
First of all I work a lot with winemakers, and I know the prices of the wines. They also need to be included in this story course it’s effecting the image of Hvar as the ‘’Island of wines’’ as they are promoting Hvar. They need to sit, gather restaurant owners and tell them: guys we are busting our asses trying to point out F&B offer of Hvar, providing you the best rates, prices for wines and we would like you to follow us by offering those wines cheaper than they are in your restaurants. Can we somehow create agreement, a rule that the mark up for the wines is 30%, 40% 50%. In this way you will sell more wines, we will sell more wines, and our image will be improved, emphasized as the island where you can eat good and drink amazing wines.
‘’Also can we make agreement that you offer our wines per glasses? For example one week poor 3 types of white and red wines on glasses. We will stimulate this action with better (read lower) price.’’
There will be restaurants owners which will say; no, I will continue the way I did it before. But if only 20 or 30 % of the restaurant owners accept this deal, all the community, circle (wine growers, wine makers, restaurants, guests, Hvar as destination) will result with win - win situation.

Wine on glasses Local house iwne
Wines in glasses Local table house wine

I remember the meeting, coffee in September 2010, with one of the New York travel agent specialist for Croatia which wanted to offer Hvar to her clients. So she came in Hvar for few days to investigate a little bit more. She was in Hvar as tourist also few years before we met so back then she realised she wants to work and offer Hvar to her clients. This travel agent tells me: ‘’what’s with these restaurants in Hvar’’? I said: ‘’what you mean by that?’’ And then she tells me that she was on the dinner a night before, in one of the best local restaurants and that the food was lovely. After the second appetizer or course which was fish soup she wanted a glass of white wine. But only what they had to offer was table house wine which she characterised as something worst she ever tasted. They told her that she needs to get a whole bottle of quality or the top quality wine if she wants to have some of that. Also interesting to mention, when she was asking to recommend what kind of wine do they offer on glasses the waiter said: ‘’Only local house table wine but I don’t recommend it’’. Hey!? You can imagine reaction of somebody who’s coming from NY eating in Four Season and Micheline star restaurants. Anyhow, she got up after the soup and furiously went away from the restaurant. And then I had to convince her that there are restaurant exceptions. But see how one bad comment can ruin the image of Hvar restaurant offer.

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