Finding the best restaurant in Split was a bit of a challenge, but I definitely think we found it.
With the vast number of restaurants that Split has to offer, ranging from traditional food of the Dalmatian Coast, the freshest local fish, restaurants dedicated to barbecued meats of all varieties and wine bars stocked with local Croatian wines and huge plates of antipasti, it goes without saying that making the choice of where to eat is a difficult one. Especially for someone like myself who would be quite happy to eat all the different specialities in one sitting.
Restaurants in Split are ten a penny and it’s extremely easy to get caught in a tourist trap, eat a mediocre meal, and pay a hefty bill for a somewhat unexciting experience. Fortunately, I can say that Dvor restaurant is none of that. If you are looking for a fine dining experience, exceptional wine, fantastic service and a beautiful view then I believe Dvor is the best restaurant in Split.
Having spent a long, relaxing day on the beach soaking up the sun and wading out through the crystal clear warm waters far enough to take a swim, we found ourselves absolutely ravenous. As is often the case when I’m feeling like this, and anybody who has met me or heard me talk about food will know, I need to try everything. I need taste all the different flavours. I need soak up the atmosphere whilst grinning from ear to ear with every bite. There is something almost primal about it but when it all boils down I just really love food. Bryony agreed that she was also starving, so we decided it was time to head out and find a restaurant where we could suppress these cravings and experience some fine dining in Split.
After taking some time to decide where to go we booked a table at Dvor for 8pm. I would highly advise booking a table for any restaurant that you have your heart set on whilst visiting Split, trust me, we made the mistake of not booking the other day and found ourselves sorely disappointed.
Having made our reservation, we set off, away from the bustling Riva full of crowds and the cosy closed in Diocletian palace to a much quieter neighbourhood.
Dvor is located past Splits main beach and nightclubs. Walking up the hill the scenery changes around you. Quiet roads, tall leafy trees, and grassy areas give this part of split more of a friendly cul-de-sac feel. You are still just meters from the beach, but you can’t see it here, and tucked just on the right had side of the road, in what is almost unrecognisable as a restaurant since it looks like a little red house, is Dvor.
As we walked down the steps we instantly knew we had made the right decision. I had reserved a table in the garden/terrace and the first thing we saw was a dimly lit intimate setting, lined with twinkling lights, with candle-lit round tables which were positioned to look out over the sea.
We took our seats and soaked up the atmosphere and our waiter Neno (who I would like to say a big thank you to if he reads this) informed us that Dvor serve a 5-course tasting menu. He had barely finished the sentence and I was sold.
We both agreed that the tasting menu was a must Neno also assured us that all the ingredients are sourced locally so we were in for a real treat. Having checked the wine list we were keen to try a local wine but a little lost as to what to order, fortunately, Neno was straight at hand and recommended a wonderful Plavac Mali (red) locally sourced from the Senjković Winery on the island of Brač, just 1 of Croatia’s 79 islands. You can actually see the island of Hvar if your table looks out over the water, it is the closest one to Split and one of the largest of Croatias islands. Neno’s knowledge of the wines and the variety of grape used really gave us confidence in the type of service we were going to receive throughout our dinner at Dvor.
Then the food fiesta began.
Neno had recommended we skipped bread and we saw now why, our first dish was seabass pâté with homemade pickled shallots, chives, and olive bread crostini. The seabass pâté was light like a mousse that melted away with each bite. The delicately tangy shallots, crunchy oniony chives and the chewy rich olive bread set our taste buds tingling with the fresh lively flavours. A truly fantastic way to begin the meal.
Having definitely started on a high we moved quickly on to a Forest mushroom risotto with chive oil. It was such a large portion I was concerned that we wouldn’t make it through 5 courses, but it was the lightest risotto I have had in a long time. The depth of the mushrooms in the risotto complemented the lightly pickled ones used as garnish and the mild garlic taste of the chives cut through to further enhance the different flavours of the dish.
Number three, our final savoury dish of the meal, came in the form of the most tender pressed pork belly, with rich crispy crackling, lightly charred confit shallots, rosemary and thyme roasted ‘Mona Lisa’ potatoes, celery and forest mushroom creams, and a pork jus. As you bite down through the crispy skin to the melt in the mouth pork, the two creams and the jus combined to enhance the rich earthy flavours of this dish and it was delightful. A bit on the small side I thought, but I was wrong, this is a tasting menu after all and I couldn’t have eaten more by the end.
At this point Neno cleared our plates and returned with a shot glass of caramel and sage mousse. An extremely satisfying combination of sweet and savoury that any salted caramel fan will adore. This eased our taste buds away from the savoury flavours of the first 3 courses, moving us towards the feast for the senses that arrived next.
If you like chocolate, then you are in for a treat. Having taken a short break after the Caramel mousse (trust me you will need a break), What arrived next was a chocolate-lovers dream with a twist.
A dome shaped, warm, fudgy dark chocolate shell, hiding a cold milk chocolate ganache, surrounded with a white chocolate and black olive, I repeat, white chocolate and black olive sauce! All topped off with chocolate soil. Wow. The warmth of the cakey shell mixed with the cold of the ganache and the crunch of chocolate biscuit ‘soil’ was a delight for the senses. Add to that the light sweet white chocolate sauce infused with the briny saltiness of black olive and you achieve a flavour explosion and a desert which I have dreamed about ever since.
Needless to say, we were both on a bit of a higher plane of reality and on a total chocolate high by the time we had finished, so to perk us up and cleanse our palettes, Neno arrived with a freshly made gooey lemon marshmallow. The concentrated flavour and sharpness of the lemon soon woke us up from our chocolatey slumber and we were ready for our final course of the evening.
Have you ever had cheese that is matured so long that it has started to crystallise? Our last course was a 24-month aged cows cheese drizzled with honey and placed on a freshly toasted piece of walnut bread. The almost sharp flavour of the cheese combined with the sweetness of the honey and walnut bread alongside the Plavac Mali wine made for an exceptional finishing combination.
Both feeling full to the brim, we finished our wine and paid the bill. Neno, who noticed we were both in a bit of a food coma, suggested he would book us a taxi. We politely declined, it was such a beautifully warm evening that decided it wold be nicer to take a walk back along the Riva and soak up the atmosphere of twinkly lights that dance on the water on the way back to our Old Town apartment.
So why do I think Dvor is the best restaurant in Split?
The incredible food was locally sourced from suppliers close to Split and is fantastic value at 210kn (£25) a head for the 5-course tasting menu. I am yet to come across another tasting menu in Split, though I find it difficult to believe it will be of such good value.
The wine 270kn (£32) is locally sourced from an island off the dalmatian coast and paired so perfectly with the majority of our dishes (we do prefer red to white).
On a side note: Do make sure that if you drink any wine in Split it is a sample of their Croatian wines. This is not the place to ask for Argentinian Malbec (yes, I just said that!) Save that for anywhere else in the world because wine from the Dalmatian Coast is incredible, and not easy to source at home.
The knowledge of the staff and the service was of a level better than some I have experienced in 2AA Rosette establishments back in the UK. The attentiveness of not just our waiter Neno but the rest of the staff too, is what turned a brilliant meal into an exceptional evening.
The view, location, and setting gives Dvor the upper hand on any of the other restaurants in Split that we have visited.
All of the above totalling just 717kn (£85). That is why it is the best restaurant in Split and you would be mad to miss out on experiencing it for yourself.
How to get there: Put Firula 14, 21000, Split click on this link and it will take you to google maps.
How to book: By phone, the staff speak English +385 021 571 513
What to order: The tasting menu and a local Croatian wine of course. Make sure to ask for recommendations.
Website: Click here
We will be writing more articles about our other experiences of dining out in Split, alongside our experiences of other restaurants in Croatia such as in the Croatian capital Zagreb so make sure to sign up to the newsletter for the all the updates on restaurants we recommend in Split and Croatia overall.
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