A restaurant that feels more like an Alpine lodge clinging off the edge of Croatia’s Mount Biokovo, Vrata Biokova is home to some of the best locally produced Croatian cuisine on the Makarska Riviera, says Sasha Arms.
Vrata Biokova is also the only restaurant inside the Mount Biokovo National Park, which you have to pay around £3.75 to get into. You imagine the restaurant will therefore take advantage of the passing trade with hiked up priced for less than average food. Nothing could be further from the truth.
On entering the establishment, it’s all about long, sociable wooden tables and an après-ski feeling. Hikers and bikers enjoy hearty home-made stews while glugging back a glass of beer or two. Whatever the weather, the interior is familiar and cosy, with laid-back service to match. Everything is either homemade and/or locally sourced here. The proprietors make their own ‘mountain tea’ using (in no way dodgy) herbs from the mountain. You can even blend it with their own mountain honey if you’re so inclined.
While the homemade stews are tempting in that intimate farmhouse way, it doesn’t feel very conducive to the summertime, so we plump for a selection of small dishes: Croatian tapas style, if you please. Dalmatian and Italian hams, ‘mountain cheese’ and hearty breads and salads fit the bill perfectly.
Despite all the fine dining we sampled in Dubrovnik and the highly recommended local seaside eateries we tried along the coastline, this lunch at Vrata Biokova is undoubtedly the best meal we ate during our Croatia foray. In fact, Vrata Biokova does more than just food, it’s also a base from which you can go horseriding on the mountain or go camping nearby. The mountain really is spectacular and makes a real change from the touristy seaside resorts down below. Even on colder nights, Vrata Biokova’s homemade liqueur, made from 48 herbs sourced from the mountain, will be sure to keep you warm.
Vrata Biokova: The Hungry Nomad verdict
Best bit: The hospitality of the staff who welcomed us like long lost friends, matched with food of equal candour.
Worst bit: Leaving Vrata Biokova’s new puppy shivering after we removed his heat source in the form of our legs.
Our ideal menu for two:
Dalmatian cheese and ham selection – 55 kuna
Potato salad – 25 kuna
Mixed salad – 25 kuna
Bread basket – 10 kuna
Mountain tea x4 – 60 kuna (total)
TOTAL: 175 kuna (approximately £18), plus service
Visit Vrata Biokova:
- Croatia car hire starts from £16 per day or £108 per week with www.rhinocarhire.com.
- Croatia tourist information.