I’m trying to start a new section on TCG, focused on restaurant reviews from around the world.
I always loved to travel and now that the world is finally open after the pandemic -I’m sure this will sound sooo weird re-reading about the pandemic years ahead– I’m back on my traveling adventures.
My most recent trip was to Croatia for my 29 Birthday. It is such an underrated country. In my personal opinion, it gives me more paradise vibes than Greece or Italy which are crowded with tourists during the summer.
It’s always a challenge to plan a trip around my birthday because it’s right in the middle of the high season here in Europe. But, this year was a rotund success with Croatia. I loved everything. The beaches, the history, the culture, the people and of course the food.
And following one of my favorite traditions while I’m traveling, I booked one fine dining restaurant for a fancy dinner. So, scrolling around the internet I noticed that one of the highest rank fine dinings in Split was Zoi. They even have 1 Michelin start – not that I honestly care about that- so I was quite excited to visit and take their 5-course dinner.
So, I will start with the ambiance: It’s a lovely setting on the walls of the most important historical place in Split: The Diocletian’s Palace.
The location is amazing and you can enjoy the Dalmatian architecture from your table.
The only drawback of the location is that just in front of the restaurant it’s one of the busiest streets in the city, also a bar with loud music is located right on the other side of the street and it collides with the refined ambiance of ZOI.
The service is impeccable. A bit too ceremonious for me, but they make you feel like royalty for sure. The wine recommendation was spot on.
Now, the most important part of all this review: The food.
And here is with a heavy heart that I must say I was a bit underwhelmed — especially if you consider the hefty price of 100$+ per person —. Let me elaborate.
The presentation is exquisite and I’ll give them props for that. Every plate looked so clean and meticulously crafted.
We asked for a 5-course dinner. The first two courses were a chef’s selection. More than a course they were more like an Amuse-gueule.
The first was olives and sun-dried tomato paste wrapper with steak carpaccio. Spoiler alert this was my favorite dish. I was sad that it was only one small piece. The strong flavor of the olives with the saltiness of the sun-dried tomato and the extremely tender meat was a fabulous combo. Strong flavors, well balanced.
The second course was a sea bass paté with sourdough bread. The bread wasn’t anything special and the paté was tasty, yet nothing remarkable.
Now, for the three following courses — appetizer, main, and dessert— we could choose from a small list of 4 options per course.
We decided to pick different dishes — my husband and I — to try as much as possible.
My husband’s appetizer was steak tartar with CBD butter and caramelized bone marrow. The meat was super tender but the caramelized bone marrow and the butter didn’t have a strong flavor that could offer some contrast with the meat.
I ordered squid carpaccio with orange and lime caviar. the squid was finely sliced and it was pleasant to eat. The oily sauce made the process of eating the carpaccio a bit messy, and honestly, I dint feel it added much to the dish. The lime and orange caviar is a clever way to add some acid to the dish and I liked it.
For the main dishes, my husband ordered the lamb and I ordered the octopus. And here is where my disappointment settled.
I was super excited to try the octopus. It was overcooked. The potato cream was bland and the edamame unseasoned. The only good point was the cherry tomatoes that were super sweet and delicious. But overall was my least favorite dish.
The lamb was also overcooked — my husband ordered medium-rare and it was definitely medium-well — so the meat wasn’t tendered as it should’ve been. But at least the seasoning was right.
Finally, the desert was superb.
I ordered bitter orange sorbet with caramelized apple. And it was fantastic. The sorbet was highly appreciated, especially because it was 28ºC (82) out there.
My husband ordered the Hazelnut mouse and it was so beautiful to look and it tasted great. Crunchy chocolate and hazelnut.
Overall, I enjoyed my birthday dinner, but I was definitely expecting more because of the price and the reputation of the restaurant, and for me, it fell short.
Owner and Food blogger on The Cookware Geek. She loves cooking, baking, traveling, playing with the cats, and knitting. She believes that eating delicious meals doesn’t require a culinary degree or a Michelin-star chef in your kitchen.