My wife Jun and I are big Game of Thrones fans and when deciding on our honeymoon/summer vacation locations, we naturally agreed on stopping by Dubrovnik, Croatia, the central filming location of King’s Landing in the show. Our time in Dubrovnik was absolutely wonderful; in addition to the Game of Thrones tour where we got to stop by filming sites of major scenes in the show, we also got to walk around the famous wall surrounding the old town and go on a kayaking tour around the city’s coast with pristine waters (both activities are absolute musts when you are in Dubrovnik). In fact, Jun and I agreed that, while Santorini was breathtaking with its famous view of the caldera, it is Croatia that we will come back to again in the future. While Dubrovnik was certainly packed with tourists, we both loved navigating the narrow alleys with a lot of charming shops, bars and eateries. For all the tourist appeal of Dubrovnik, though, I wasn’t sure if we will have a good dining experience. Croatia, for all its proximity to Italy and its neighbor’s influence, hasn’t been quite well known for its food. When I was looking for places to dine in Dubrovnik, I first stuck to the same rule that I had when picking restaurants in Santorini – a restaurant offering romantic sunset dining experience. While we failed miserably in Santorini, we did have a very good meal at Nautika, located just outside the old town’s wall.
Nautika looks like a classic fine dining restaurant with professionally dressed staffs, live piano performances and stunning decors (definitely try to grab a table outdoors overlooking the St. Lawrence Fortress). And the restaurant charges New York rates for comparable fine dining establishments in the Big Apple. When you dine a la carte, appetizers easily cost $30 or more apiece and the whole fish option costs close to $140. Despite these hefty prices, the kitchen does seem to know what it’s doing. The cold appetizers of “seafood delicacies,” consisting of lobster and sea urchin terrine, tuna tartare and sea bass carpaccio with wasabi, were solid, especially the terrine which gave a delightful taste to my palate. While Jun thought the large shrimps on polenta with goat cheese cream and almond flakes were “predictably” delicious due to its generous use of butter, I still really loved the hearty feel to the dish that wasn’t overpowering it its flavor.
For the whole fish option (yes, despite the price tag, we figured this would be their signature main dish), we had a type of red snapper called campechanus with grilled vegetables and potatoes. Our server brought up the entire grilled fish and then started expertly carving it for us. It was not the most ground-breaking seafood dish, but the fish was quite capably cooked with balanced seasoning and worked well together with the vegetables and potatoes. Jun certainly seemed to agree that this was a nice dish, as she made sure that we eat all the flesh that we can see until we saw only the bones. For dessert, we ordered a dish called Adriatic chocolate fantasy, which according to the server was presented with four different flavors of chocolate (sweet, sour, salty and bitter); its plating was beautiful but we agreed that we had had better chocolate desserts elsewhere.
Getting a reservation at Nautika wasn’t too difficult (the reservation desk was fairly responsive via emails), but the outdoor dining space got packed over time with a good mix of tourists and locals so make sure to book in advance. I have yet to open up to Croatian wine (Jun said too many wines that we tried during our time in Croatia were tasteless sour grape juices), but we did have a nice bottle of white made of local Croatian grape called posip for our meal. You will get the level of service and attention comparable to a fine dining restaurant in a big city. Dubrovnik has a lot of dining options, and not some of them necessarily good (especially at classic tourist traps in the old town), but if you are looking for a romantic dinner and are liberal with your budget, Nautika is definitely a restaurant worth considering.
KenScale: 8.25/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.0/10)
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
- Value: 7.5/10
Address: Brsalje 3, 20000 Dubrovnik, Croatia
Telephone: + 385-20-44-25-26