Chanoy Honeymoon: Dubrovnik, Split and Zagreb, Croatia, February 2016

Note – photo gallery at the bottom of this post.

The morning after we arrived in Croatia, K woke up in the early hours of the morning with an unbearable pain in his right foot. He took some painkillers so that he could get back to sleep but by the time morning rolled around properly, it became clear that it needed to be looked at by a doctor. After a quick call to our insurance company (always buy travel insurance kids!), we went to the local hospital in Dubrovnik where K was diagnosed with gout. This not only affected our holiday in the short term (we spent most of our time in Dubrovnik in the apartment so he could rest) but will also affect our lives in the medium to long term as we move towards a diet that will hopefully make another gout attack less likely in the future.

So what did this mean for our time in Croatia? It meant we didn’t get to explore Dubrovnik the way we wanted to – it wasn’t until our last day that we walked down to the Old Town for a few hours to have lunch and to visit the pharmacy to pick up some medicine for K. The rest of the time we spent in our apartment on the hill, cooking meals at home. Luckily our apartment’s balcony had a fantastic view of the Old Town and the Adriatic Sea, so we spent hours on the balcony reading, drinking tea, eating our meals…we didn’t miss out entirely.

It also meant we tried to make healthier dining choices as we moved onto other cities in Croatia. That’s why we had a semi vegetarian meal at Konoba Matoni in Split, and a completely vegan-friendly meal at Zrno Bio Bistro in Zagreb. We also did a lot more home-cooking to ensure that we were eating healthier meals with lots of fresh vegetables from the local green markets being turned into risottos and vegetable stews. The fact that many restaurants are actually closed in the tourist low season in Dubrovnik and Split also contributed to this increase of home-cooking!

Of course, we couldn’t stop ourselves from having some less healthy, if incredibly delicious meals at Mazzgoon in Split and Mundoaka Street Food in Zagreb (not to mention Kamenice and Dolce Vita in Dubrovnik as well). I also managed to search out a half-decent Chinese restaurant in Zagreb where we could have a small Chinese New Year celebration – thanks Asia T House!

I’m just glad that K got over his bout with gout relatively quickly. By the time we reached Split, he had healed enough for us to go out everyday for long walks along the coastline, watching the sun glimmer off the impossibly azure waters. The whole Croatian coastline is impossibly beautiful, and I know I need to return when the weather warms up and it becomes possible to go swimming in one of the many quiet sheltered coves along the coast. I might even try to overcome my chronic motion-sickness and go on a cruise around the many small islands along the coast – what do you think?

There’s other things to love about Croatia other than its stunning coastline. While it turns out that I didn’t actually take too many photos in Zagreb, the capital, it’s certainly not a reflection on the city as a travel destination but more on the gloomy weather during our stay making lighting for photos particularly difficult! I found Zagreb to be extremely cosmopolitan, but a bit bohemian as well – possibly a reflection of our interactions with our Airbnb host who was extremely extroverted with anarchist views, who also happens to be part of one of Europe’s most popular psychedelic rock bands!

This somewhat bohemian nature is also reflected in the city’s excellent eating scene which caters to all demographics – I mentioned some meals we had above, but it’s important to note that Zagreb offers everything from healthy eating green juice bars and vegan cafes, to American-style sticky barbecue ribs and dude burgers. It’s quite like Australia in that respect – open to different lifestyles and different eating habits, where it isn’t unusual for locals to have a green juice and salad for lunch before going out for juicy burgers for dinner.

Croatia’s the type of country that’s very liveable – the standard of living seems to be quite high when compared to other countries of that region, most people speak good English, and you can live a cosmopolitan lifestyle in the big city before retreating to the coast for leisurely long sunny weekends. It’s well worth a visit for any traveller who loves beautiful coastlines, sunny weather even in winter, and old baroque cities.

Review: Zrno Bio Bistro, Zagreb Croatia

After the button-popping, belly-bursting, food-coma-inducing meal at Mundoaka Street Food in Zagreb, K and I both agreed that we needed to look for a healthier option for our next meal. As much as I loved pulled pork, it’s definitely not something you can have every day! Luckily, my Googlefu pulled up Zrno Bio Bistro as a restaurant that offered precisely what we were looking for – organic, local, natural food designed to nourish the body.


Located in the rear courtyard of a building, it can be hard to miss the entrance of Zrno – we walked past it and halfway down the street before turning back. As soon as you enter, you begin to learn about their food philosophy through posters, prints, and vinyl decals on the walls. They promote their farm-to-table ethos, with the restaurant’s produce coming directly from the Zrno certified-organic farm located only an hour out of the city. They talk about ‘real food’ and about making the most of vegetables through eating, preserving and pickling while fresh. They talk about their vegan-friendly menu, which can also cater to those with other food intolerances (gluten-free, lactose-free).

Monkey Business Smoothie (coconut milk, rice milk, banana, dates and cashew nuts), 35 Croatian Kuna
Monkey Business Smoothie (coconut milk, rice milk, banana, dates and cashew nuts), 35 Croatian Kuna

Making the most of their lactose-free smoothie menu, I ordered a Monkey Business smoothie – one of the more conventional choices on the drinks menu as it didn’t use rarer ingredients like hemp oil or green magma! Instead, my smoothie was made of a blend of thick sweet coconut milk, thin rice milk, a banana, a handful of dates for sweetness, and cashew nuts as a nutty surprise. An absolutely delicious lactose-free smoothie full of good fats and protein – one I would happily make at home and serve as a healthier alternative to our usual Milo milkshakes!

Homemade Sourdough Bread, 16 Croatian Kuna
Homemade Sourdough Bread, 16 Croatian Kuna

I’m always a fan of homemade bread, so we ordered a side of their Homemade Sourdough Bread to share. Interestingly, they offered three different types of bread in this serving, with cuts from an aerated cob loaf, an extremely dense sandwich loaf, and a sesame-crusted loaf. I liked the dense sandwich loaf as I love super-dense and heavy bread, but K preferred the sesame seed-crusted loaf as it had a better aroma.

Garden Burger (vegetable patty on a chickpea pancake served with marinated zucchini, boiled broccoli and a lemon, olive oil and garlic dressing), 59 Croatian Kuna
Garden Burger (vegetable patty on a chickpea pancake served with marinated zucchini, boiled broccoli and a lemon, olive oil and garlic dressing), 59 Croatian Kuna

K ordered the Garden Burger, which really didn’t resemble what most people would think about as a burger – it was more like a ball of solid vegetable mash on a flat pancake made of chickpea flour. With a healthy serving of greens on the side, this meal ticked all the boxes as a healthy meal, incorporating more than enough vegetables and some protein in the chickpea pancake too.

He did find himself hungry sooner than usual after lunch, so it might be worth noting that this meal could do with a bit more protein to help satiate the average diner. Perhaps the addition of some lentils in the vegetable patty? It certainly doesn’t need any help in the taste department (hearty and a little bit sweet with the inclusion of carrots), but adding some protein bulk would help.

Sweet Potato Fries, 25 Croatian Kuna
Sweet Potato Fries, 25 Croatian Kuna

I insisted on sharing the Sweet Potato Fries, one of my favourite side dishes to order in a restaurant when it’s available. I almost stopped the waiter when he put this down on our table though, as it didn’t look like any sweet potato I was familiar with – what happened to its usual orange tone? Wikipedia has since informed me that there’s multiple shades of sweet potato, and the orange shade that we’re used to in Australia makes up 95% of our production. Regardless of colour though, these sweet potato chips were a delight – while not quite as crispy as some might prefer them, you couldn’t fault the sweet flavour of the fries.

Daily macroplate, 65 Croatian Kuna
Daily macroplate, 65 Croatian Kuna

I chose the Macroplate which changes daily but always complies with the ideals of the macrobiotic diet – wholegrains, vegetables, legumes, sea vegetables.  On the day that we went, the wholegrains were a mix of brown rice and quinoa, and that was coupled with roast sweet potato, coleslaw, boiled green leafy vegetables, and a healthy serving of a mildy-spiced dahl. While I found the greens quite plain, the dahl was a delight especially when mixed in with the slightly nutty rice and quinoa. Interestingly, almost half of the other diners also ordered the macroplate, so it must be the restaurant’s specialty!

Veiled Farm Girl Apple Cake topped with an oatmilk-chocolate cream, 28 Croatian Kuna
Veiled Farm Girl Apple Cake topped with an oatmilk-chocolate cream, 28 Croatian Kuna

We finished off our meal by sharing the Veiled Farm Girl Apple Cake, as it was one of the desserts that was specifically marked as being lactose-free, using oat milk instead of dairy milk. It wasn’t quite the cake that K expected, offering a jellied stewed apple base rather than a fluffy apple sponge as he’d been hoping for. I liked the texture of the dessert though, as it reminded me of eating a Chinese-style jelly dessert like aiyu jelly. The oatmilk jelly helped to soften the sweetness of the apple jelly, while the chocolate sauce drizzled on top just amplified it again. Some will find the texture of this dessert challenging, but I liked it very much!

Zrno Bio Bistro is one of those rare finds – a vegan-friendly restaurant in a part of the world that tends to feature meat or seafood in one shape or another in most meals. Like our visit to Konoba Matoni in Split, we were pleasantly surprised by the superior veggie-friendly dishes available in these specialist restaurants. Rest assured that when you travel to Zagreb, you have the option of organic, local food served at a reasonable price in a cafe that’s able to accommodate most dietary requirements!

Zrno Bio Bistro is located at 20 Meduliceva ulitsa in Zagreb, Croatia.

Review: Mundoaka Street Food, Zagreb Croatia

Like many other cities in Europe, much of Zagreb closes down on a Sunday. Shops are closed, restaurants are closed, and there are only a handful of people who are keen enough to go out and sell their produce at the local green markets. For tourists like ourselves, it means that you definitely have to plan your day ahead of time – don’t expect to be able to just wander into a restaurant as excellent as Mundoaka Street Food for lunch as they won’t be open!


We headed back to Mundoaka on the Monday for lunch, after having our interest piqued on the Sunday. We were early in showing up before midday, but it worked in our favour as we were able to grab the last table inside that hadn’t already been reserved. Keep that in mind – Mundoaka is one of the most popular restaurants in Zagreb so if you don’t make a reservation, be prepared to show up early or sit outside in the cold!


Despite strict instructions from his GP father to cut out soft drinks because of his gout, K couldn’t stop himself from ordering a mango-flavoured Jarritos, a soft drink brand from Mexico. He claimed that it was no match for his favourite Jarritos flavour of mandarin, but it still tasted pretty excellent to me. I had to drink half of it of course to help him manage his health condition…or at least, that’s what I’m telling him.


Given that we were some of the first diners in the restaurant, I didn’t know quite what to expect in terms of meal size. Do we order entrees, mains and desserts? Or mains only? Having gotten into the habit of over-ordering in Croatian restaurants though, we thought we’d keep it simple with just ordering one main meal each without sharing any appetisers or entrees. That was lucky, because the servings that ended up being delivered to our table was absolutely ginormous!

Interestingly they chose not to give us individual plates but served both meals on a sharing platter, so we could pick bits and pieces off it to share. Not all tables got this same treatment – it obviously depends on what you order, and I imagine the restaurant also makes a judgement call on whether you’re dining as a couple who would share their food.


The first main meal we ordered was the Marinated Boneless Half Chicken, served with harissa sauce, sauteed slice potatoes and a creamy salad with roasted seeds (75 Croatian Kuna) – a far cry from the half chicken and chips takeaway meals we’re used to in Australia! This chicken was extremely well marinated in a salty barbecue sauce, and the meat itself had been brined before cooking to ensure that it wouldn’t dry out. The harissa sauce was a real winner, working well with both the chicken and the potatoes (and the house-made sourdough bread as well!).


The second main was the Mundoaka Pulled Pork, made of confit pork shoulder blade, smoked mozzarella, miso mayonnaise,  homemade pickled cucumber and coleslaw on a homemade focaccia with fried potatoes with mixed spice on the side (85 Croatian Kuna). We hardly had room to fit this in by the time we finished eating the chicken, so I actually ended up removing the sandwich contents from the foccacia so I wouldn’t fill up on carbs – a shame, because it was pretty delicious!

The pulled pork was too much on the salty side for my liking and was better suited to palates that prefer a real flavour punch, rather than a more subtle slow-burning taste sensation. I think the dish could have been improved by using plain mayonnaise rather than the stronger miso mayonnaise. Overall, it was a bit too strong for me but I can see how it would be the perfect dish to have with a nice cold beer.


The ‘fried potatoes’ that it came with however for another matter – simply some of the best potato wedges I’ve ever tasted. I’m not sure what the ‘mixed spice’ they used was, but I got regular bursts of chilli spice and a citrus spice as I ate the wedges. It’s well worth ordering these fried potatoes as a delicious side dish if you visit Mundoaka!


Despite the fact that we were absolutely stuffed to the gill, we couldn’t stop ourselves from ordering dessert. In particular, K wanted the Dulce de Leche Cheesecake (27 Croatian Kuna), made of crunchy biscuits with almonds and ras el hanut, with a filling of cream cheese with Dulce Leche, and miso caramel with milk chocolate and Dulce Leche. He was a bit doubtful about the miso caramel, but this salty umami caramel sauce actually worked very well with the surprisingly light and airy cheesecake. With the cumquats on top, this cheesecake actually left quite a fresh mouthfeel, and wasn’t too heavy on the palate.

An additional note – Mundoaka actually sells jars of dulce de leche so if you ever feel like a hit of South American caramel while in Zagreb, you know where to go!


I couldn’t go pass the Triple Chocolate Brioche Doughnut, made of sourdough brioche, creme patissiere 60% chocolate, white chocolate ganache with mascarpone, 30% milk chocolate glaze, forest berries marmalade and hazelnuts (20 Croatian Kuna). This was just as light as the cheesecake, offering a sweet intensity tempered by slightly sour berry jam. The soft cushiony brioche was partnered well with crunchy nuts, and the different grades of chocolate gave a good mix of sweetness and richness. This was just the perfect dessert – light but satisfying without sitting too heavily in your stomach.


Meals at Mundoaka Street Food are much too large for a single person to eat by themselves – especially if you plan on ordering one of their delicious desserts to finish off your meal. I would suggest ordering two appetisers to share between two people, or a main and an appetiser if you’re feeling particularly hungry. The menu changes every month (we were there in February 2016), so check their Facebook page before you visit to see what the latest menu looks like. Whatever you order, just make sure to leave room for dessert!

Mundoaka Street Food is located at 2 Petrinjska in Zagreb, Croatia.