Azur, Dubrovnik 09-2018

You'd be forgiven for thinking most places in the Balkans serve similar types of ingredients in similar ways. It's because they do. Most restaurants have the local specialties and otherwise a standard way of cooking each type of seafood. That's where something like Azur comes in, bringing Asian fusion to the local ingredients of Croatia. For that reason it is popular, and for that reason anyone who is in Dubrovnik for a short while should eat here. If nothing else, just for the variety.

The atmosphere is nice. Sitting along a stone wall (without insects luckily) in semi-natural mood light. The menu is cheeky and playful in its tone. 

- Pork belly Beijing tacos 68kn for 2 pieces - chewy meat but good with cucumber, hoisin, chilli, spring onion;
- Monkfish in black curry sauce with zucchini rice 158kn - this expensive dish was a surprise in its form. I expected a curry. Instead it was monkfish with firm flesh deepfried and placed on squid ink. I could taste some coconut milk but not any red curry paste. It was served with sushi rice;
- CroAsian style seafood laksa 125kn - nice very thick soup with a good clear chilli kick which is unusual for this region. There was an added lime and more of a curry flavour than a Thai laksa. Small seafood was tasty but the prawns soft rather than crunchy;
- Azur baklava (4 kinds of nuts, spices, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, star anise, cinnamon) 38kn - this was odd. The flavour was heavily anise spiced, and also annoying in that there was broken star anise through it which made it hard to eat. I told them this and they said it was the broken piece on top. Clearly not as it was pervasive throughout. Would not order this again.

Jazz versions of Avicii, Swedish House Mafia and Lorde are what it's all about - cool and hip but in a classy way.

As far as Asian fusion places go, this certainly wasn't one of the best I've had. But like I said, it's different and you need that in Croatia. Kudos on them for trying. I'd go back again.

Hard Jazz Caffe Troubadour, Dubrovnik 09-2018

It's an odd place. At night there is sultry jazz to listen whilst enjoying cocktails.

During the day, all drinks are 50% off.

Additionally it is the only place (I could find anyway) that had ustipci. Ever since these homemade gems were served to us in Montenegro along the Via Dinarica (, I was searching them out one last time before leaving the Balkans.

Those at Troubadour and not overly similar and not as good as in Nedajno. But they did suffice. And the sour cream to eat them with wasn't bad either.

Lokanda Peskarija, Dubrovnik 09-2018

On my one and only other visit to Dubrovnik, I fondly remember my final dinner being at Lokanda Peskarija ( On that occasion I sat inside (being colder and at night) but feasted on the most delicious charred squid my tongue has ever known.

For the final meal on this visit to Dubrovnik, I had to visit there again. Now that it was warm and sunny, a seat watching passersby, the boats and the mountains made for a different atmosphere.

The prices have escalated up by 50-100% since the last time. Hmmm. Such is the life of somewhere driven by tourism and Game Of Thrones.

- Mussels 104kn - as is typical for the region, the mussels are small and kept bearded. They are very flavoursome serves in salty water, and sometimes too potent but still strangely addictive with bread;
- Grilled squid 123kn - I thought it was a smaller serve but comparing photos now it probably is the same (with a 64% price rise). Tasty char of the squid was once again present and ripped through the sauce with with lemon, and bread to drag all the flavours together. Not as charred stiff as last time, but still good.

If I'm back in Dubrovnik, I'll come here again. I hope the prices won't have gone up by another 50-100%.

Peppino's, Dubrovnik 09-2018

There's a few icecreameries in Dubrovnik although none seem to have extremely high ratings. Dolce Vita is a creperie that also has icecream. If I'm honest, I didn't think the icecream looked very good and so didn't try it.

That left Peppino's which is more expensive but appears to be much more a single specialty gelato place.

The Pistachio Premium certainly caught my eye with its thick murky green colour flowing from tart shells. The serve itself was unusual - there's the dark brown sludge on top with some bits of nuts, and this part has all the pistachio flavour. The pale green below was really quite plain and lacking. I enjoyed eating the sludge but not so the pale.

It is likely to be the better gelato place in Dubrovnik, but maybe that just means there isn't a particularly good one (yet)...

Barba, Dubrovnik 09-2018

This place has remarkably good reviews for its burgers. It seemed like a perfect idea before a walking tour of the city.

Arriving just before opening, we were the first (and for a short while) only customers. There's a counter facing the street where I imagine people will queue for lunch, then sit on the stairs where Barba have placed cushions ready for gluteals. It would be glorious.

On this occasion we were inside and admiring the ridiculous number of creative forks adorning the lamps and walls.

- Anchovies on a bed of arugula with cherry tomatoes 73kn - it was this or the fried squid. Given it was the first meal since waking, we went for the fresher option. It was fine but in retrospect the fried squid looked and smelled fantastic. Don't make the same mistake;
- Fresh oysters 15kn each - I remember having these oysters at the more famous mussel place in the square ( Back then I thought the flavour was pretty good but the oysters themselves are so thin that there is only shivers of meat to chew on. This was the same;
- Shrimp burger 79kn - the octopus burger drew my fancy but the staff member recommended the shrimp. It was a breaded patty with bit of crispy outside texture and minimally discernible pieces of shrimp. The flavour of it was also therefore not that strong in the shrimp department. It was alright but I think I made the mistake of asking which burger she would suggest.

I would go back there but stick to the fried squid and try the octopus burger. The plate Barba might be a good combination of everything fried and fresh.

Pink Shrimp, Dubrovnik 09-2018

There's lots of places to choose from within the city walls of Dubrovnik. Knowing which are good is harder. The host of our flat highly recommended Pink Shrimp, and the reviews seemed pretty good. It was also close to the centre strip meaning minimal stair walking to get there. 

From the name you'd expect there to feature a lot of shrimp on the menu, and you'd be correct.

Unfortunately they all seem to be quite small and not all that satisfying. Thinking about this more now, that does seem to be the trend of the Adriatic shrimp.

- Mantecato Orzotto, saffron, shrimp 105kn - barley cooked well and al dente with good chewiness. Small prawns lurking inside. Overall nice;
- Buzara Adriatic shrimp, sea bass, julienne vegetables 115kn - tiny prawns that needed to be peeled. Seemed like a waste of time. Good fish and sauce however.

Expensive for the amount of food in each serve. I think there are better places and better value. I wouldn't go back here.

Il Bio Gelato Di Salvatore, Budva 09-2018

I had a gelato place in mind in Budva and I knew it was between the bus station and the beach. Perfect. I planned to swing through on the way back after some time basking in the sun.

It's a long stand with many flavours on offer.

The hazelnut and pistachio were both adequate without either being very strong or overly memorable.

The server was very unhappy that she was in my photo. Oh well.

Kafana Rivijera, Budva 09-2018

One of the key decisions when planning Montenegro was whether to stay in Kotor or Budva. The lack of beaches in Kotor (not absolute, but the online reviews are mixed - to be fair I thought it was actually ok) is what attracts people to Budva. Budva is supposedly bumping in summer, but once September hits it quietens down a lot.

Before whaling it on the beach, lunch beckoned. I really wanted to eat at Portun. Sadly the opening hours on their front sign didn't correlate with them opening. And so after waiting specifically for them to open, then realising they wouldn't be, I was despondent. The waiter from the restaurant across the path (perhaps opportunistically) suggested eating at Rivijera instead. He didn't know when Portun would open. But they have the same owner. Ok...

Rivijera has a nice outdoor seating area with a canopy overhead that allows sun to filter through. It is certainly pleasant. I was happy to find that Njeguski stek featured after wondering where I would get to try it since missing out in Zabljak (

- Njeguski stek 400g (pork steak, smoked ham & cheese, cream cheese, homemade baked potato) €15.5 - pork heavily cooked and not very flavoursome or tender. Saved by the parts with cheese and prosciutto which added a big salty flavour hit;
- Special of seafood pasta €13 - black fat pasta cooked in a tasty tomato and slight spicy sauce featuring crisp prawns good calamari. Not al dente.

The food tasted nice. The pork was somewhat disappointing (a common theme in places that only know to cook meat extremely thoroughly). Portun was open by the time we finished lunch. I hope their opening times are more consistent if I'm back in Budva.

Ladovina Kitchen & Wine Bar, Kotor 09-2018

I really wanted to eat food cooked under the peka bell. Although I expected it to be much more available in Croatia and the Balkans, it seemed much more difficult a task, particularly because the few places that offered this only did so in 1kg servings. Which obviously meant for 2 people, there wouldn't be the opportunity to try anything else.

Ladovina was a well-related place outside of the Kotor city walls with nice outdoor atmosphere, good reviews, and lo and behold bell-cooked lamb, veal or octopus at a price per 100g. Perfect!

A walk-in on a rainy night meant there were no available tables (other than a couple not under cover) and so I made a dedicated reservation to anticipate the next night. This was a smoother evening, warm and barmy. People around still smoke which was the only annoyance.

- Ribarska supa (fisherman soup) €4 - very thin and watery but very fishy flavour;
- Octopus €16/200g - very tender pieces cooked in a tomato reduction. I definitely prefer grilled for the char flavour;
- Lamb €10/200g - very soft and good flavour although too much fat and not enough meat in our serve. Potatoes soaking in cooking juice all day were very nice;
- Stuffed calamari €14 - these were stuffed with bread and calamari pieces and cooked in the same tomato reduction as the octopus. In fact the dishes looked near identical with the sliced carrots. Maybe they are cooked together. It was also very tender, although I prefer grilled.

A good meal overall and the opportunity to try the peka bell dishes. I know now that I prefer my octopus and calamari grilled, and so would stick to meats for this again. However the lamb on this occasion was too fatty. Veal may be better for this, but also tends to have less flavour. I suppose I'd have to pick my poison. It would be lamb (being cheaper) and just ordering a larger serve.

Caffe Bar Cukar, Kotor 09-2018

This little cafe is a cute one full of colour of the adornments and flowers, and also includes a nice view of the stream leading to the lake. The sun shining makes for an excellent place to lunch and escape the city walls and daytrippers.

I was most drawn to the bubble waffles available there and the reviews for desserts. But being lunch time, lunch food was the priority.

- Omlet (3 eggs, cheese) €2.5 - very good, smooth, buttery, tasty omelette;
- Cukar sendvic (cheese, prsut, cheese, lettuce) €6 - you can see the very persistent wasp on my bread. The sandwich was ok but expensive considering the makeup and the general prices of food in Kotor. The bread particularly was basic white;
- Slatke palacinke (kinder cokolada) €3 - a decent crepe with some kinder chocolate sauce.

I was a bit disappointed to not have a bubble waffle or desserts. I planned to go back for it but never did. If for a meal, I'd get the omelette again.