Plate With A View: Atlas Club, Dubrovnik, Croatia
Saturday 10 May 2008
Situated on the waterfront by the Pile Gate (the western entrance to the Old Town), this is Dubrovnik's most famous – and most expensive – restaurant. Pope John Paul II dined here on 6 June 2003, and the menu for his visit is still proudly displayed (the signature dish, "Scampi Tails Lucifer", was tactfully renamed "Scampi Tails Dubrovnik-style" for the occasion).
There are three terraces and five dining rooms over two storeys, giving a feeling of intimacy wherever you eat, but in summer the real pleasure is eating outside. Light lunches are served on the ground floor, on the Brsalje Terrace, with business lunches served on the adjacent Penatur Terrace. For a romantic evening beneath the stars, dine on the upper-floor Lovrijenac Terrace. With just seven tables, booking is a must.
The chef, Nikola Ivanisevic, specialises in regional seafood dishes: the Pope ate lobster from the nearby island of Korcula, and other delicacies include brodetto (fish stew) from Lopud island, and an elaborate creation incorporating octopus, prawns, raw fish and anchovies from Sipan.
Carnivores are also catered for, with standards such as chateaubriand, or poultry dishes with sauces using local Dingac wines. There is also a special vegetarian menu. Desserts are mostly fresh fruit and liqueur-based, but the determined can try some delicious Konavle cake, if they still have space.
The setting is lovely, especially when flooded by moonlight – a film-maker's dream. To the left are the city walls of the Old Town, defended by the imposing Bokar Fortress. Across the water to the right, more spectacularly still, is the Lovrijenac Fortress, after which the terrace is named. Nearly 40m high and built on sheer rock in the 14th century, it rises over the Adriatic. In the past, as well as being a military hub, it was used to store gold, and its entrance, across two drawbridges, bears the city's motto, Non bene pro toto Libertas venditur auro ("Freedom must not be sold for all the gold in the world").
In more peaceful times, the ramparts have become the atmospheric venue for performances of Hamlet during the annual Dubrovnik Festival (this year, from 10 July to 25 August; www.dubrovnik-festival.hr)
Business lunch menus are around €45 (£37.50), with set evening menus around €78 (£65), both without wine. Dine and drink à la carte, and the sky's the limit.
Restaurant Atlas Club Nautika, Brsalje 3, Dubrovnik, Croatia (00 385 20 44 25 26; www.esculap-teo.hr), 12noon-12pm daily
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