Dining Review: Theatrium – Zagreb, Croatia
Since we did not focus on fine dining for this trip, we wanted to treat ourselves while in Zagreb. There are tons of well rated spots, some of which boast Michelin stars, but we wanted to find the ASPIC or Rezdora equivalent of Zagreb – the one that is up and coming, awaiting its Michelin star in the in the future. This is certainly a difficult thing to search Google for but rather takes a bit of digging. While I had a short list to choose from, our final decision was Theatrium.
It was fun to get dressed up for a night on the town – proof that you can still look great and pack all your items in a carry on bag!
The interior was very modern and chic as well as having attractive table settings. We were impressed! Also, capacity was reduced, tables were spread out, and staff diligently wore masks and sanitized frequently- two thumbs up. It helped to be able to see everything as the kitchen was visible to guests.
The menu was not too extensive, which was a good thing – at a place like this you want a specialized menu that focuses on certain elements. The wine menu on the other hand was massive so we went with what we knew best – one last Malvasija.
An English version of the menu was not yet available as they were debuting a new one. So we got to hear a personalized description of every menu item from our awesome server – the service here was top notch. After some deliberating and the assistance of Google Translate, we settled on our plates and prepared for our meal.
The first item brought out was bread and butter… but not just any bread and butter – a homemade loaf of joy with truffle butter.
I could smell the truffles before our server approached the table with the plates. This was so delicious. We evenly split the bread and butter so we both got to thoroughly enjoy equally. Usually a solid bread and butter course is a good sign for things to come. We were certainly excited for everything else.
Zucchini Flower Stuffed with Fresh Goat Cheese in Tempura with Tomato Jam
I live for the opportunity to eat fried zucchini flowers. It is so uncommon that we find them but when we do, I devour them. I told Kevin from the that at a place like this, the portion size would not permit me to share – so we each got our own. What was especially thoughtful was that while Kevin got three large flowers, I got four small ones so they were not taking the easy way out and did a great job keeping the portions even and fair. I noticed and I thank you. These zucchini flowers were perfection – lightly fried, filled with strong goat cheese, and dressed with a flavorful red sauce to accompany. We both really loved this dish.
Homemade Spaghetti, Adriatic Shrimp, Oyster Sauce, Basil
I really wanted to love this dish. In reading and hearing about this plate, it sounded like it would be a shrimp forward entree with homemade pasta. First, the shrimp were very small. But second, I could barely taste them – the dish was full of black pepper and that was the only flavor I could taste. The shrimp should have been the star of this dish and instead it was the pepper. The pasta itself was well cooked and very good when de-peppered but there was so much of it, it was an impossible land mine to navigate. Also, the portion size was enormous – no matter how much I ate, this Mary Poppins bowl of pasta just did not budge. Normally, large portion sizes are a positive thing a you are getting more bang for your buck. American dining is known for their over sized portions but Europe has always need great about portion control in our experience. However, at a nice restaurant like this, I am not expecting bang for buck, I am expecting goof flavors and quality ingredients. I really wanted to love this dish but I just could not finish it.
Slow Roasted Veal, Roasted New Potatoes, Young Carrots, Veal Jus
Veal was well cooked, perfectly tender and jus was full of flavor. Carrots and potatoes were a fine accompaniments. Portion size was a bit large but that’s not a complaint. Overall a well executed but standard dish.
We can’t recall the last time we did not finish our meals, we were baffled why the entree portions were so darn big.
Tiramisu – Marscapone and Whiskey Cream, Coffee Ice cream, Chocolate Ganache, Homemade Biscuits (and coffee!)
Worried about dessert, we decided to split one. We chose their take on tiramisu as we learned it is what their are known for so we split that. And then the dish came out and it was so tiny! We were so confused. Granted we were both completely stuffed so splitting was still the right move but still. Anyway, this was a deconstructed tiramisu where the marscapone was on the bottom and there was a scoop of coffee ice cream shaved chocolate and biscuit on top. It was a solid dish, nothing too ground breaking but it was a good dessert.
Overall, we came away of this meal with an average impression for a meal in this price range. We started off the meal so strong and ended a bit confused by what the restaurant is going for – especially given the aesthetics of the restaurant, the amazing service, the open kitchen, and the quality of the food – all of which point to giving guests a fine dining experience. The place has all the makings for a great experience but I think they would benefit from taking some risks. The flavor profiles of what we ate were safe – if the focus is turned to diving beyond the classics and instead of elevating the flavor profile to create something exciting.