The next day the weather had indeed improved. In fact, it was pretty much perfect – sunny 71 degrees with a nice sea breeze. Given that, I decided to walk to a seaside restaurant had been highly recommended – Dvor.
It was about a 30 minute walk out of the old city and I enjoyed seeing Split from a different vantage point. Along the way, I passed by the famous Bacivice Beach which was already teeming with sunworshippers eager to take advantage of the great weather.
From there, I diverged through a lovely wooded pathway and soon found myself in front of Dvor and made my way down the stone pathway to the garden seating area.
The wind had picked up considerably but I decided the view plus the sound of the water sloshing against the rocks below was worth being a bit cold. My server explained that their dishes were traditional Dalmatian but with a modern twist. I decided to start with the first sea bass tartar I had ever tried and paired it with glass of Posip – a crisp Croatian white wine.
The tartar soon arrived and was simply outstanding. Perfectly diced and super fresh, the meaty sea bass had been reduced to a melt in the mouth smoothness. It was nicely complemented with a compressed lemon sauce and crispy toast points to scoop it all up.
The main courses had several intriguing options but I decided to stick with my seafood kick, selecting “Interpretations of Octopus Under Glass” I’m still not entirely sure what in the Hell that meant but I’m a sucker for a good octopus dish.
I was surprised how traditional the presentation was after that frou frou name but it was outstanding as well. The octopus had first been boiled for several hours, then a quick sear on the grill and finally finished in a pan with a Court-Bouillon sauce that also used octopus with roasted potatoes. To accompany this, I very excitedly chose a Syrah from the famous Bibich Winery, which had been heavily featured on a Anthony Bourdain episode about Croatia. It lived up to the hype with bold, rich flavors and a nose to die for. Life was good.The wind had picked up even more so I cut my post-lunch stupor short and decided to take a different path back, this time over to the marina to watch the giant cruise ships and ferries dock.
From the marina, I made my way towards the seafront, called The Riva, which was a hive of activity from all of the tourists unloading from the various ships pulling into port.
Since the weather was still pretty much perfect, it was now time to really explore the old part of the city. In the late 400s, the Roman emperor Diocletian had decided, for good reason, to make Split his home and built a massive palace. Over time and through many wars, the majority of the palace has been reduced to ruins but what ruins they are!
I purchased a combo ticket that allowed me onto the palace grounds along with access to the 14th century chapel and crypt that had been built on top of the palace in typical new conquering empire, in this case the Venetians.
Across from the chapel was actually my favorite part of the area – the temple of Jupiter, which once I entered made me feel like I was truly in ancient times.
By this point, the old city was packed with tourists and I decided that was my cue to get some rest. A couple of hours later, I staggered out of my apartment and ventured once again into the narrow alleys of the old city. I had initially planned to go to a restaurant called Zinfandel but upon arrival, I was told they were booked for the rest of the evening. Undeterred, I headed to another option, Apetit, a few blocks away which thankfully had a table for me.
Since I was solo, I was given a high table that gave me a great vantage point, including the massive group of 15-16 year old girls who kept looking over and giggling at me, to the chagrin of the chaperone at the far end of the table. My waiter was very pleased to hear about my new love of Croatian wine and insisted I get a glass of Plavac Malli, but this time not a barrique. I think I still prefer the barrique style but this was quite tasty.
One of the specials was freshly caught hake steaks with roasted vegetables so that became a no-brainer pick for me. Simply grilled with salt, pepper and olive oil, the fish was perfectly cooked and the vegetables were quite tasty as well. Since I was having fish, I opted for a glass of Posip, which was fantastic. I paid up and headed back over to the Riva, which was now brightly lit
I meandered for awhile but soon started craving a night cap of one more glass of Croatian wine. I had been wanting to check out a wine bar called Paradox near the Riva, which was closing in about 30 minutes. Given that, it was hardly surprising that the room was fairly empty.
The wines by the glass was vast and after some consultation, I decided to get a 2006 Placa Mali, this time from a different Croatian island and my server’s personal favorite. Given the aging, the wine was very bold but also pretty supple with a long, lingering bouquet. I sipped and enjoyed my wine until they made it clear it was time to close. This turned out to be good timing as the wine started hitting me hard. I woozily made my way out the door but stopped a few yards away due to an intriguing sign that said “Craft Beer Bar.”Although I was pretty much done imbibing anything fermented for the night, I did want to at least see what they had on tap. It turned out one of the beers was an IPA from someone who used to work at the bar and happened to be there celebrating its release. That didn’t sound too appealing at the moment, nor did the other few options. Probably for the best anyway. On the way out I noticed they also had a fridge of bottled Croatian craft beers.
By the time I got back to my place, the wine was sending me off to slumberville. I had a big day planned tomorrow, including a short bus ride, so instead of joining the boisterous crowd at the bar next door, I opted for sleep instead.