Lobsters. Clams. Fish of all sorts. The world of Croatian restaurants awaits you with a joyous desire to please. But this article won’t cover the cuisine – at least not from the angle you’d assume. This time, we’re going to talk about specific things to expect in Croatian restaurants. Don’t worry, it’s not rocket science. Just a few tips that might help you in getting around the place.
For starters, Croats rarely (almost never) include tip in the check, leaving it to your discretion. Not leaving anything does not mean you dislike the service, so don’t run for the exit if your budget is limited. If you do intend to tip, the usual amount is 10% – 15%. If you want to tip the waiter specifically, leave the money at the table or give it to him directly. Since most of these folks are young, seasonal workers, they will greatly appreciate it.
Certain European countries have a habit of charging you seating in the more picturesque places, without the obligation of ordering. Croatia is not one of them – you simply have to order something if you intend to stay. A glass of mineral water is usually the cheapest choice.
A couple of years ago, smoking indoors was prohibited entirely in Croatia. Today, the situation is slightly different. In restaurants, smoking indoors is still forbidden, but cafés with ventilation systems might put an ashtray on the table. If you see such place, feel free to light one up. The terrace, though, is a sure shot. You can always smoke there, regardless of what’s being served.
Another thing to keep in mind. Croatia tolerates alcohol levels of 0.5% in traffic. The police randomly pull over drivers for checks, so you might end up being screened for alcohol even if you did nothing wrong. If you intend to drink and drive, keep it in check. Although many factors influence alcohol in one’s body (such as weight, age or sex) a second glass will usually push you beyond the limit. We know Croatian wines are hard to resist, but as any other, they don’t go well with vehicles.
Serving alcohol to underage guests (under 18) is prohibited. That said, interpretations of age are liberal in most locales. Just in case though, carry around some ID if you are of age but have a lovable, youngish face.
Croatia is a country with drinkable tap-water. It’s not the best in the world, but you won’t have to run a marathon for the toilet after having some. Actually, if you order a cup of coffee it will usually come with a glass of tap-water. The latter won’t be charged. However, when visiting islands, it is generally a better idea to order bottled water.
Now, when dining, more expensive restaurants might serve a couvert you did not order. Although it’s not usually bad, it will be charged (sometimes up to 10€ !) so check how it works with the waiter before you sit down.
Eating clams? Ask the waiter if they are fresh, and check their scent on your own after that. Yes, we know you heard this one thousand of times. No, we are not your mother, but she seems to be a wise woman.
Squid-lovers, take note. If the price is under 100 HRK/13.35€, you will be served frozen Patagonia squid. In all honesty, that doesn’t mean the dish is bad, as olive oil or some other ingredient might improve the taste. But if you want the real thing, and by that we mean Adriatic Squid, you will have to invest a little more in your meal.
More on olive oil – it is always an option. If it doesn’t come to your table, it might be ordered separately (and we recommend you do order it).
Gablec and Marenda are local versions of brunch (a small lunch). If you see a sign offering these, it means you can get an affordable meal or a daily menu item at bargain price. However, if you feel like eating lobster carrying diamonds on a golden plate, you might skip this option.
Got that, mate? Olive oil and lobsters with diamonds. Surely, you will enjoy yourself in the Croatian restaurant of your choice.