Zagreb Restaurant Week: How Bistro Lauba ruined our romantic dinner

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Zagreb Restaurant Week: How Bistro Lauba ruined our romantic dinner | Mexatia

Restaurant week in Zagreb just ended last night. This time, we decided to treat ourselves in two restaurants so last week we enjoyed family lunch in konoba Bracera and this Saturday Jaime booked a table for romantic dinner on a budget in a modern Bistro Lauba, or at least we thought.

Lauba became a big hit several years ago. From a failed factory suddenly there was a nice, renovated space for rent , a gallery and also some fashion shows were organized there. Still, I did not really know what exactly Lauba is, what their offer is and the fact there is a restaurant was completely unfamiliar to me, and to many other citizens of Zagreb. So, when I saw its name on the list of participating restaurants, I totally fell for it. The menu seemed nice, especially because I read many praises about their creative bread with different spreads. Soon enough, we had a table booked for Saturday night.

Zagreb Restaurant Week: Failed romantic dinner in Bistro Lauba | Mexatia
Zagreb Restaurant Week: Failed romantic dinner in Bistro Lauba | Mexatia

We arrived at 7, while the restaurant was still almost empty. The waiter told us to sit wherever we like, the only problem was they almost do not have tables for two. There were only 4, of which one was right next to the big table of 8 or so which was full, and the other three were in other, “ugly” part of the bistro, completely isolated. Hm, ok. We sat in one of those three, the brightest one. It seemed like they prefer having big groups over couples. More when they started to move chairs from two other tables for 2 next to us to the bigger ones. For a moment they even put something that looked like folding chairs and they were changing them right in front of guests waiting for the table.

Doesn’t matter, we said to ourselves. We liked the modern decor mixed with industrial elements and the chairs were super comfortable. The menu was interesting and it sounded perfect on the paper. In the end, we came here because of the food, not the table in a prime location.

The menu was already on the table so we decided fastly. The waiter came and asked what would we like to drink, brought drinks and left, not checking if we are ready to order. He did not come back for more than 15 minutes. We felt like they forgot about us and we were even consider leaving when he came again. 

The starter came fast. The variety of Lauba signature bread with different kinds of spreads sounded fantastic. We are bread lovers and we were looking forward to it, moreover because everybody on the internet was roaming how good they were. One popular foodie site in Croatia even stated as they are the best little bread in Zagreb. We expected a lot and here’s what we have got.

Zagreb Restaurant Week: Failed romantic dinner in Bistro Lauba | Mexatia

Zagreb Restaurant Week: Failed romantic dinner in Bistro Lauba | Mexatia

Honestly, I expected something completely different. I imagined warm little buns, fresh from the bread oven. I could even smell it. You know that appealing smell of a fresh bread? Yummy. Well, the bread was neither fresh neither warm. It was cold and in one piece. We needed to cut it ourselves and, needless to say, we made a mess all around.

Besides two pieces of bread (what a variety, huh?), we got four different spreads. I would love to share which kind of spreads they were, but I have no idea. The waiter did not say a thing, either the menu and we did not consider we needed to ask what are we eating, the waiter needs to present each dish in at least few words. I overheard words anchovies and cuttlefish ink when he was describing the dish to other guests and we could taste olives and cucumber. All in one, not what we expected it to be and we ended up quite disappointed with the appetizer.

For mains, we had a duck confit served with bread puree seasoned with blue cheese and beetroot chips. After tasting the best duck in my life in Julija, a wonderful restaurant in Ljubljana, I can say this one was just ok. The bread puree was weird, I think you can imagine how wet bread tastes like haha. We could not feel any taste of the cheese in it, it also lacked salt. The beetroot chips were such an excellent idea, but also without taste – it would be wonderful if it was seasoned well and served with some aceto balsamico. I left the most of it and Jaime ate my duck…

Zagreb Restaurant Week: Failed romantic dinner in Bistro Lauba | Mexatia

Zagreb Restaurant Week: Failed romantic dinner in Bistro Lauba | Mexatia

When they brought the mains, they did not clean the table – they left the whole appetizer on the table. There was no way we are going to eat it all and it was just occupying the space. I must mention they did not ask if we would like to keep it or no, they just assumed. This is how the table looked like… and we stopped eating the bread 20 minutes ago.

Zagreb Restaurant Week: Failed romantic dinner in Bistro Lauba | Mexatia

At this point, we were just waiting to go home. Our table was finally cleared and the dessert arrived. We were scared how is our next course going to look like, so we waited for it covering out face. 🙂 Luckily, served in a cute jar, beneath which was a plate from Ikea, the Lauba sensation with honey and rice flakes was really tasty. The highlight of the dinner, definitely.

Zagreb Restaurant Week: Failed romantic dinner in Bistro Lauba | Mexatia

Zagreb Restaurant Week: Failed romantic dinner in Bistro Lauba | Mexatia

To sum up our experience in bistro Lauba I will write just two sentences, which are saying more than the whole this text together. I work in a hospitality industry and we always leave a tip. This time, we did not.*

(*tipping policy in Croatia is way different than in the USA and some other countries. It is not mandatory, neither expected, but it is highly appreciated. Since I am a hospitality worker and I like receiving tips, I also always leave one in the restaurants.)

ps. Photos are the same quality as the restaurant 😀


Bistro Lauba
Prilaz baruna Filipovića 9
Zagreb, Croatia
website | TripAdvisor


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15 Discussion to this post

  1. I’m sorry you had such a terrible meal! What a disappointment.

  2. That seems like such a disappointing experience. I can’t say I’ve had a bad experience with tapas before, so I’m even disappointed that it happened to you! I would’ve been expecting warm, fresh bread as well, and to at least know what I’m eating during the appetizers. And it definitely sucks when you just had an amazing meal, only to be disappointed by the same meal at a different restaurant. I truly hope they were having an off night with a bad server.

    • Unfortunately, it seems their service is always like this. Pity, the whole complex could be much more successful that it is with the right leadership and different attitude.

  3. What a shame, I was disappointed looking at your photos! Seems like an awful lot of bread for such skimpy spreads. I’m sorry it was so awful but thank you for pointing out the raw truth! Since they had so many great reviews that you read about I wonder if this was just an off day? Years ago I worked as a server and I agree on the tipping, I always leave one even if the food is crap because I always feel like it’s not the servers fault! However, in the end it really is there presentation that makes it and if the service is bad well there’s no making up for disappointing food!

    • I actually think those reviews in online magazines were paid. Here there is no law you need to disclose if something is actually an ad. After discussing it with some other people, it seems their level of service is always the same…

    • Here servers have more or less normal paycheck so they do not depend on tips, they have them as a nice bonus. Bonus you give if they make you happy 🙂

  4. I love eating out and honestly there is nothing worse than getting a bad meal. The bread sounded awful and who doesn’t have tables for 2???? At least the dessert was a little better

  5. ilive4travel says:

    It looks like such a nice place. So disappointing to get bad service and not great food. I always hate it when you read great reviews and it’s not like that when you visit.

  6. arzotravels says:

    Oh no, not a great experience. I am actually not a fan of dark places but it would be okay if the food were great. What a shame. If I had been you I would have probably left and had the dessert somewhere else (luckily you enjoyed that at least).

  7. so sorry that you got something other than what was expected. That bread does not even look edible. Glad you liked the dessert though. Never heard of Honey and ricce flakes before.

  8. ljlegend says:

    aww sorry you had such a terrible experience with your Tapas. I have to say that non of that food looked very nicely presented. I to work in hospitality and I would not have left a tip either!

  9. Joanna says:

    I always hate it when restaurant’s don’t really care about you and just ruin your evening. The worst thing that ever happened to me was to be told to get up and leave while I was having a drink with my friend in a pub, just because we didn’t ordered food. I felt so ashamed, like we would have done something wrong, and everyone was looking at us… Coming back to your story, that duck looks very fatty an oily. I wouldn’t touch it either.

    • Oh, I know several places like that – they have a cafe and restaurant and they do not allow you to sit in the restaurant part (even it is completely empty) if you just want to grab a cake and coffee. Too bad, right?

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