The Michelin recommended restaurant ZOI in Split beautifully adds to a Mediterranean dream getaway. Above the bustle on ZOI’s terrace you can see the promenade and waters below in Old Town Split. You are hugged by palm trees and the ancient palace that was once and is still arguably the beating heart of Split. The gentle summer breeze, the soft music playing and sounds of the ocean removed you from the excitement of the harbour and people below. Although an A-lister spot, the restaurant is approachable and authentically proud to cater for all. That came through immediately in the dishes and service.
We started with a sunset cocktail that matched the sky. The reds, oranges and yellows. Between the drink and the sky, you weren’t sure where to look. The drink was made up of strawberry syrup, orange and lime juice with a splash of Botanist gin and was a perfect treat to begin the experience.
Up first we were served two surprise dishes from the chef which immediately played with flavours and left us excited for the dishes we had chosen. The first surprise bite was a combination of granny smith apple, foie gras and grated cherries wrapped in a short crust pastry. Our second chef’s choice dish was smoked fish made into a silky butter served with sourdough and olive oil. The fish was rich but not overpowering. The bread-and-butter idea created a fresh twist on a very familiar and normally safe dish.
For the starters we both stayed with fish. Both dishes rather than flavours battling to overpower the other, it was an orchestra. Each flavour sang and played to each of the other’s strengths, creating a Symphony both visually on the plate but also in the mouth. My partner chose the crab and shrimp tacos and I selected the more traditional seafood risotto. The tacos were crispy and light, with apple shining through and the crab being the star. The saltiness and freshness of the crab cut through the sweet apple and challenged the wasabi and chilli. The dish had an explosion of colour from the green wasabi, red from the chilli and pink from the shrimp.
Risotto is a tricky dish as a starter as it can be extremely heavy and can linger through to further dishes. ZOI knew the secret to a light but fulfilling risotto. The flavours melted and land and sea truly met perfectly with the salty sea urchin meat, fresh bottarga and the rich shrimp bisque foam paired with the earthy tomatoes and zucchini chunks.
For the mains I opted for the beef dish. The textures on the plate were a sensory playground. The meal was made up of oxtail enveloped in a gel sheet of spices, sweet bright orange carrots, mustard seeds in honey creating a satisfying pop and crunch and a tender slab of beef you could sink your teeth into, but that didn’t overstay its welcome when chewing. My partner chose a more traditional octopus. The dish’s colours were crafted beautifully along with the flavour. The bright colours against the octopus from the bright green of the edamame beans, sweet orange and yellow tomatoes and the three-potato mash.
For dessert we chose caramelised apple and panna cotta. In the apple dish the almond scattered through the dish was the dark horse. The dish was balanced with the sweetness of the honeycomb and apple paired with the sharpness of a citrus sorbet. The fig cookie was a surprise as one often thinks of fig as soft but the biscuit had a nice firm snap to it. For the panna cotta, the eater controlled the journey of the dish. The cinnamon and rosemary spices through the mango panna cotta hit first. You then dictated the dish by either going for the chewy biscuit or for a burst of rose and cherry in the gel balls. The colours again linked to the sunset with bursts of pink, red, yellow, orange and white for clouds. The wine pairings ZOI made with each course were also perfectly swirled into the experience.
The sun set at the end of our meal on the eve of our journey home creating a memorable end to our Croatian stay. ZOI Split is a must for an authentic and elevated Croatian experience.
To discover more, visit: zoi.hr
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All imagery courtesy of ZOI.