Plate With A View: Taverna Rustica Dubrovnik, Croatia

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The Independent Travel

Perched on a cliff edge overlooking Dubrovnik, this tiny taverna (open 7pm-1am daily) has been both a church and a private house in its long history. In 1972 when the 160-room Hotel Excelsior expanded along this rocky stretch of coastline, it preserved this small building and turned it into a romantic dinner venue. Dining at the Taverna is very like eating in a small gostionica in rural Croatia. The décor is plain and the simple terrace is roofed with rushes. A lone guitarist plays and executive chef Steven Pieters adds a touch of glamour by lighting flares to guide you along the path from the Excelsior.

But nothing is allowed to distract from the only two things that matter - the food and the view. Seafood is a speciality, including oysters from Peljesac and lobster and mussels from Ston.

For meat eaters, there are three cuts of Croatian beef; dessert is limited to crêpes and ice-cream. Croatian reds and whites make up an excellent wine list although anyone who opts for a litre of Posip from Korcula retailing at only 90 kuna (£9) deserves what they get for scraping the barrel. Instead, spend Kn150-250 (£15-25) for a really good local wine.

THE VIEW

Dubrovnik has many excellent restaurants but they're all in the city, either looking out at the Adriatic or across at each other. Taverna Rustica has the view that a 16th-century galley might have had as it approached the ancient city. Most tables rest against the sea wall, affording stunning vistas of the old harbour and walled city. You can see the tower of St John bristling with 16th-century gun portals, the Jesuit Church of St Ignatius, the Cathedral, the medieval bell tower, the Franciscan monastery and the huge Minceta Tower, the highest point of the fortifications.

THE BILL

The most you'll pay is 500Kn (£50) each plus wine. Book via Hotel Excelsior, Frana Supila 12, Dubrovnik (00 385 20 353 353; www.hotel-excelsior.hr.

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