We dined at Passarola looking for a really good dining experience in Hvar. Initially we were looking for some fresh lobster (normal Hvar-price for lobster is around 240Kn per half kilo). Despite the price at Passarola being 400Kn per half kilo the menu looked enticing and the appointing of the whole place was lovely. We thought maybe we'd forgo a whole lobster and try out the rest of the menu anyway.
We were staying in the old town in an old house so while the restaurant was immaculate and beautiful it wasn't something we'd have paid extra to see - so to speak. A lovely and warm welcome on the street was very encouraging and was a good thing to receive.
Wines were all very very expensive even by national standards (a problem with Croatia in general and Croatia's restaurants especially - when they join the EU next year and have to scrap punitive taxes on imported wines I wonder what will happen.....). The choice is impressive, with some big names. We settled on a Grk (around 4 times the supermarket price for the bottle).
We ordered a couple of starters of 'beef carpaccio stuffed with lobster'. What arrived was a plate of a generous mound of chopped rocket, topped with the flimsiest amount of slivers of beef imaginable, perhaps 5g, perhaps 10g (in any case it fitted onto a single fork in toto), scattered with shaved parmesan. Where is the lobster? We searched on our plates and dissected the shrubbery to no avail. We hailed a waiter to explain. We showed him the plates of chopped greenery. He rather diffidently told us that the lobster was there, and a single lobster only yields a little meat (yes, I know that, I've eaten plenty). There was no attempt to address what seemed to be a problem. I think I may have found a single scrap of lobster shaved translucent around 5mm square, but the lighting wasn't powerful enough to confirm the discovery. I was deeply annoyed at this as it was something like 20 EUR for the dish of rocket (which I don't actually like - I order carpaccio for the meat, not the garnish). I sat and stewed over the money until the main arrived - not a good start.
The main course was of sea bass stuffed with chard with a variety of accompaniments. All very lovely actually. Well cooked and presented, and actually delicious (though what on earth was that pile of relish/salsa doing on the far end of the plate??!). But the portions were tiny - we were expecting to see something resembling a fish, rather than the array of bite-sized offerings on the rather pointless long-and-very-thin serving plate which didn't really fit on the table setting. Not quite nouvelle cuisine, but nodding toward those lines. A plate of grilled vegetables was dully indifferent and stupidly priced for the quantity. Potatoes with truffle cream were delicious and rich, if you like that kind of thing, though I'm not quite sure what they had to do with Dalmatian cuisine.
We left before dessert to seek out some less ethereal fare from the ice-cream window on the main square.
I have been visiting Hvar for 10 years and know it well. Eating well has always been a problem there and I'm frequently underwhelmed by anything I try in the town beyond the reliable pizza emporia on the main square (Hannibal was for a while the only real choice, but they've not been so hot for the last 5 years and seem to be on the verge of closing judging by appearence - a great shame as ten years ago they turned out restaurant-fulls of delicious and generous local seafood dishes). Perhaps there are just too many daytrippers and rich fools now. Passarola is capable of making tasty fine food. It mustn't think that it can just look pretty and hike up prices for mean tiny portions. It's the old style-over-substance problem.
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