Two times a year, many restaurants in Croatia unite and participate in unique promotion – a restaurant week. Second weeks of March and October are reserved for delicious meals in some of the popular restaurants around the country. What is even more popular is the price – 100 kunas for a three-course menu per person (around 13€)! Normally, in every participating restaurant you can choose between one of three set menus, or you can choose one of three offered appetizers, main courses, and desserts. Some places even include a glass of wine. This bi-annual food event became one of the most popular gourmet manifestations in the country and, if you find yourself around, you should most certainly try the creative menus of the participating restaurants.
This October, we decided to treat ourselves to a meal in a restaurant we did not try before. We really wanted to visit Le Bistro in hotel Esplanade, but we they were already full when we called to make a reservation. I had some other secret wishes, but none of the restaurants from “my wishlist” were participating. Some menus were very appealing, but I let mom choose the restaurant where we would have a meal all together.
She went for Bracera, a cute konoba (a type of traditional restaurant characteristic for the region of Dalmatia) in the heart of Zagreb. It was a marathon Sunday and Jaime was running the whole morning, so Bracera’s location was unbeatable. It was just across the Cathedral, less than five minutes away from Zagreb Main Square, where Jaime just finished the race.
Jaime ran so fast we came almost an hour earlier than the reservation was made. I decided to take a chance and ask if there was a table for four available at that time. Lucky us, we were seated in no time. Since Restaurant week is highly popular, the specially designed and printed menus were already on the table.
As I mentioned before, konoba Bracera offered three different appetizers, three main courses, and three desserts, from which you could choose and compose your own menu. Since we were four, we tried to order as much diverse as possible to try different dishes. Tried. 🙂
We did well with the appetizer and ordered all three. The smoked tuna prosciutto served with Grana Padano cheese and rocket salad was simply delicious. We never tried tuna this way before so we were pleasantly surprised by this dish. I went for duck liver mousse, toasted focaccia and leak and apple chutney. If you are a liver lover, this dish would be perfect for you! The mousse was fantastic, very decadent and tasty, but what I loved the most was the chutney. The leek and apple combination was superb, I never expected it to be so pleasant. It was the biggest surprise of the lunch.
We tried hard to order different dishes, but somehow we all ended up ordering the same main dish. There was one vegetarian option, one fish and one meat dish, so the meat was a logical choice for us. The lamb cutlets with pine nuts, cherry tomatoes, and fresh cheese croquettes sounded appealing.
The main dish arrived (too) soon and left us unpleasantly surprised. The looks were great, but the portion was extremely small. Two tiny lamb cutlets, one-half of cherry tomato and five croquettes. Five. For us ladies, the portion could (maybe) be enough, but the male part of the family was left hungry. The meal was well prepared and tasty, but it was just so small. We ate the whole portion of bread to fill up the holes in our stomachs.
After delicious, but still disappointing sized main dish, we were all looking forward to the desserts. While dad decided to try the eclair, the rest of us went for the chocolate pastry with caramel sauce. The eclair was big and dad really enjoyed it. Our dessert was a bit smaller but still yummy.
I must say we had better experiences during previous restaurant weeks. There was nothing wrong with the dishes in konoba Bracera, but we could eat the whole lunch once again with no problem. During this manifestation price for the menu is really a bargain, but we are all aware it should and could be a fantastic way to promote a certain restaurant. Two times a year, they completely fill their restaurants and, certainly, still earn a lot.
The thing is that Croatians, in general, do not like small portions. Dear restaurant, except if you are offering spectacular five-course tasting menu, such small portions are a big no no. Especially if you are trying to promote yourself to a wider audience. Konoba Bracera offered a great menu, but we would love to know if this is a standard size for main dishes, or they are normally a little bit bigger. If they are, we would consider coming back.
Overall, our experience was good (but nothing more than that), we liked the food and the service, but not the portions sizes and how fast they were serving course after course. The restaurant was only half full so we did not feel like they were trying to get rid of us, but they were just too fast.
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