One thing you’ll notice everywhere when you visit Croatia are number of cafes and bakeries, the exact same way you’ll notice a pub on every corner in the UK. While I’m all up for a black coffee or hot chocolate, I tend to be more interested in gourmet type venues where smoking all day indoors is not permitted. Yes, I know, welcome to the balkans Adriana, this can often be simply impossible.
I was with my cousin in Zagreb’s Avenue Mall (nothing like Westfields but good for Croatian standard) and decided to ask information if there were any cool hip cafes. She directed us to two “obicni” (simple/standard) cafes where there was no lunch menu, just drinks available. Or, we could have Macdonalds or KFC. As you can see, the customer service in Croatia is impressive #not. We then decided to check out what restaurants there are upstairs in the food court and came across Cantina Restoran.
We ordered fresh orange juice and it was so fresh it made our throats hurt a little, in a good way. I couldn’t decide between a salad or pasta and after pestering the waitress in which meal she figured was best for me, I realised I was becoming one of those annoying people and opted for the pasta. I chose the fresh pasta, prawns, cherry tomatoes in a creamy chilli sauce.
My cousin made the rookie error of ordering while taking a phone call and ordered the gamberi verde pasta pappardelle, despite having an absolute dislike for anything to do with seafood. This meant that I was able have all her prawns so it’s safe to say that lunch was good for me.
I could tell the pasta was freshly made on the day and the prawns were king prawns, nothing to complain about. Actually, maybe slightly overcooked by a minute max. The sauce wasn’t too heavy, something Croatians are notoriously famous for and the dish came with the perfect touch of parmesan cheese. If you’ve shared an italian meal with me in the past, you’d know that I am a true sucker for parmesan cheese. I also love adding chilli to all my meals, I find it boosts my metabolism, but found I didn’t need to with this case as the chefs had already added the perfect amount.
Pasta dishes at Cantina in Zagreb cost between 30-45kunas (4-6€) and they get the AK stamp of approval! Give them a try, they won’t have you feeling seedy and heavy afterwards, I promise.
Cantina – Iblerov Trg: Trg Drage Iblera 10 (Importane Galerija) Zagreb
Cantina – Avenue Mall: Avenija Dubrovnik 16 (Avenue Mall, 2. kat) Zagreb