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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.