Dining Review: Kut – Zagreb, Croatia
Deep in the crevices of the internet you can find some gems waiting to be discovered. I researched way more than I needed to but I was determined to find the best food hiding in Zagreb – a city full of great cuisine and dining. It seemed impossible until I adjusted my search to find healthy dining options. And up came a glowing review of Kut – new restaurant that opened in 2020 (somehow in the middle of a pandemic!) and serving up incredible dishes.
I knew we had to eat here – but the catch is the hours are extremely limited, open Monday through Friday from 11A – 4P. Luckily, we had a Friday lunch spot while visiting Zagreb so it easily went to Kut. While I sent a Facebook message to make a reservation, I was told if we arrived at 11A when we intended, it would not be an issue. I will say after this dining experience – make sure to secure a reservation. When we left it was packed and I think this spot is only going to go up in popularity.
The spot is a bit tricky to find as it is not off the main road but is instead down an alley way. I think this spot has so many great benefits since car traffic is minimal they are able to really utilize their outdoor seating. And there is no indoor seating to be had anyway – there is just enough room for the kitchen and an entryway filled with various cooking books, art work, and an adorable puppy.
The outdoor seating is really fun and creative making use of all the space that is available to them – some high top seats to bar stood style seating.
And the menu is as simple as it can be – a chalk board with typically three dishes written in Croatian. Changes from day to day so you never know what you may get. This was certainly a gamble for me and my anti-spicy palate but I had full trust that this was going to work.
We picked out our table and were immediately welcomed by our (and the only) server. He gave us the run down about the menu – the three dishes (drum roll) were swordfish, hake fish, and salmon all with veggies. I asked for further clarity on preparation to help differentiate the fish options. He stated that the swordfish and the salmon were grilled and the hake fish was served in a tempura.
And the winning word goes to – tempura! I thought I could spot that word on the menu and I was thrilled to have a tempura option to save me of all the fish. We do not generally enjoy swordfish so that meant Kevin was going with the trust salmon option. I was so excited for this meal!
Our server asked about drinks and we asked for some white wine to enjoy with all of our fish. We spent the next several minutes to try and detect the grape – which we learned after asking him was Pinot Gris. Delightful!
Shortly after, our plates came out from the kitchen and we were amazed! Both plates looked like pieces of art work.
Both were topped with an enormous pile of spinach making it hard to see the entire dish! It was lighted dressed and very fresh. After we ate our way through the spinach, the fish appeared. The portion sizes were incredible – there was so much fish! Moving the fish around on the plate revealed the rest of the show – Kevin’s salmon came with a curried mashed potato while my tempura hake fish was over a bed of cous cous. Then surrounding the curried mashed potato and the cous cous (respectively) where an arrangement of pureed vegetables, bursting with color as if they were colors of paint on a painters palate. We had loads of fun trying to guess what each of these were – thankfully our server was a good sport as we asked so many questions about everything we ate. Not only did I want to write about it and remember this meal forever, we were so curious how these flavors were so intense with such a small amount. The yellow/orange was carrot, the white was homemade mayo, and the purple was cabbage.
OK time to talk about these dishes.
I believe the salmon was oven cooked or poached, no char whatsoever and minimal seasoning away from salt. The salmon was delicious and perfectly cooked, and served as the perfect base for the entire plate of purees, mashes, and sauces. All elevated what was already an excellent salmon dish, and this meal easily rose to being my favorite in Croatia. Elegant but simple, and a completely unpretentious experience despite a meal that could easily be marked Michelin star level fine dining.
Tempura Hake Fish
- I am not a huge fan of fish that swim however, I am a huge fan of fish and chips – tempura makes everything better. But in this case, the fish itself was so delicious. Kevin and I both determined it was perfection.
- I so rarely eat cous cous and after this dish I do not know why – it was so yummy.
- It was so fun to mix and match the different elements on the plate to create different combinations of flavors. I think my favorite was the mayo and the fish, kind of like a tartar sauce but this made eating each part so enjoyable.
We both sat there eating in pure bliss – we could not get over how incredible these dishes were and we were sitting on stools in an alley.
We cleaned this plates with nothing left on them and I was so sad it was over. There was no dessert on the menu so while I was hoping for more food, I figured that was the end of the meal. When our server came back, he asked if we would like dessert and I think I scared him at my excitement. I did not care what it was, we were getting it and both getting own on portion. The desert was brownie with peaches.
So simple yet so delicious. The brownie reminded me of a vegan version with some sort of substitute as it was a denser brownie. It was also not a sweet brownie which is why the peach combo worked so well. The peaches were fresh and bursting with flavor and natural sweetness. There was also a peach chutney that had a savory component (not sure what). We tried to slowly eat this dish so we did not have to leave!
Wow, just WOW! If we lived in Zagreb, we would be here every day for lunch. And I do not even mean that in an exaggerated fashion – we would actually be here every day. I cannot even image the endless creative dishes this kitchen is pumping out on a daily basis if this is the meal we experienced on a Friday afternoon. And do you know why we would actually be able to be here every day? It was so insanely affordable – it was our least expensive sit down meal of the trip and the most memorable by a long shot.
When we left, almost all the seats were full at the tables and one of the two bar seating areas. Clearly this is a secret spot among the people that know what is up. Like I mentioned before, definitely secure a reservation ahead of time. When we went inside to pay, we noted the team of three in the kitchen – I wanted to applaud to show my appreciation! It is so special when you find these unique dining experiences, knowing that you discovered something that is going to be really big.