Maybe I’m inordinately impressed by raw food, maybe I was in awe of the owner’s previous, long-term experience at the famous & fancy Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia. Or maybe it was just incredible food, with incredible attention paid to everything. All of these considerations made this experience one of my all-time favorites.
The restaurant was a little tricky to find. It’s on the third floor in an apartment building, and you have to check the little name plates at the door to buzz in. Once inside, I loved the place. It felt like a shabby chic home, with the kitchen out in the open in the front room, and two comfortable, airy dining rooms off to the side. We were the first customers and chose a lovely table right in front of the open terrace.
Darko and his wife, Lena, own and run the place. Lena was also our server. They were both so kind and friendly. We talked a lot, especially with Darko about Philadelphia and raw restaurants in the USA.
Once we sat down, they brought a dish of cherries. If you haven’t heard, Zagreb is lousy with the stuff. No, seriously, the cherries I had in Croatia are the best I’ve ever had, so we devoured these quickly.
Lena also brought us a dish of fig carpaccio. This blew my mind. Thinly sliced fresh figs, covered in olive oil and salt and pepper. They did not taste like any figs I’ve ever had. Who would have thought of doing this? The oil and salt really softened the figs and they fell apart easily. The usually sweet figs were now savory and they were just wonderful. I love when novel but really simple concepts succeed with flying colors.
Just look at that detail! So many vegetables are stuffed in there. The sushi I’ve had recently (and frequently) in NYC is amazing but heavy, stuffed with fried tofu and grilled mushrooms and covered in heavy creamy sauces. This raw sushi was light and delicious and a welcome change of pace. I just loved it.
We were pretty stuffed, but of course we needed dessert. We ordered the torte, a creamy filling on a chocolate nut crust. It was pretty good, not too sweet which I liked. Strawberries filled the bottom half and flower petals were scattered in berry sauce. It was lovely.
Overall, this was an amazing restaurant. I wish it was in a more convenient place for me, but it makes it a special destination spot. Darko and Lena are great people, and I hope you get to meet them.
The Art of Raw Food, Zagreb
- Water speed: Good; we were given big glass bottles to refill our glasses, which I always love
- Bathrooms: Fine, clean. A little weird that the sink is next to the dehydrator, but whatever – the toilet is separated!
- Service: Great
- Food: Wonderful. Go if you can!
- Bonus: Everyone was so friendly. We loved talking to them about Croatia, raw food, and America.