We are back from the Split and Hvar area, had a great time, some excellent meals and one terrible meal... all in all a great success.
Konoba Matejuska (Marmontova 1) had a great tiny outdoor seating area and an equally cozy and intimate interior restaurant space. The staff were very friendly and ready to recommend whatever was fresh from the sea. We ate her twice because our first meal was so good. The first time we had the fried shrimp starter, very good sized shrimp fried head on in a very light batter with a healthy sprinkle of sea salt. These were outstanding and by far the best dish of the trip… couldn't get enough of them. We also had some grilled Dorada as our main for two and enjoyed it greatly with a tomato salad.
The second night here we had friends with us so added little fried fish to the shrimp starter, they were a bit of a shocker at first as they were full bodied, uncleaned little fish but they tasted wonderful in the same light batter with sea salt (perfect snacks with a beer). We followed it with a combination fish plate for 3, sadly they did take advantage of us a bit here and loaded way more fish on the platter than we needed, but we also didn't specify exactly how much we wanted. Either way the fish was perfectly grilled and tasted wonderful.
Our other meal was at Konoba Marjan as recommended in my previous request for info, it was right around the corner from Matejuska. We had a great meal, my wife had the seafood risotto which was massive (a lady at the table opposite us just about had her eyes leap out of her head when she saw it arrive, then she ordered the same for herself). We also had some grilled squid to start and I had another grilled fish (bream). Everything was great here, the house wine was very good, the service friendly but not cloying, the only complaint was the lack of outdoor seating and the decor was a bit like my Grandma's basement in the 80's.
Other highlights included really good seafood pasta at a large restaurant with a red awning in one of the main squares just outside the Diocletian Palace across from the No Stress Cafe. I was a bit skeptical eating here as it was in the main flow of tourist traffic on the main drag but was pleasantly shocked by the excellent seafood pasta. Everyone else in the group felt their meals were also quite good.
I also can't remember the name of the place we had the bad meal, which is too bad as I would like to warn other visitors. We had a seafood pizza and grilled squid. The pizza tasted like it was frozen, the seafood sparse and a little old looking but the squid was a horror show. They came uncleaned & head on... it was a very messy and less than satisfying effort to clean them and remove the spine and beak.
We had a few wines at several places around the centre of town and found pretty much all the local wine in the little 200ml bottles to be less than stellar, while the unlabeled house wines were excellent. We also went through the green market on the international port side of central Split; they had excellent local cheeses, honey, nuts, fruit and veg. Artichokes were in season as were strawberries and a very thin wild looking asparagus.
We had 5 days in Hvar town in a house we'd rented, great location, new house with all the amenities including a great outdoor grill.
We had dinner twice at the very close Konoba Bonaca, very friendly staff who took a lot of care to ensure our experience was excellent. The night was cool so started with some local fish soup, not too inspiring and did not compare to Maltese Ajota fish soup. Followed it up with some lamb (shocking yes, but we don't get much lamb in the Czech Republic) that was charcoal grilled and very tastey. Others had a local specialty of beef simmered in red wine and served with gnocci (Pasticada). Everyone really enjoyed dinner, the house wine and the complimentary dessert and grappa that was delivered after dinner.
Our other dinner out was at Gariful, on the main harbour with a great selection of fresh fish (handed over to the restaurant by the fisherman from their boats) and a great looking spit roasted lamb that they did a couple of times while we were there. They have a bit of a gimmick with a massive salt water aquarium under the floor of the restaurant, complete with sharks and dueling East coast lobsters.
No lamb tonight, but the fried squid was excellent as was the grilled seafood platter for two that we shared. A very robust selection of mussels, squid, shrimp and fish... really well done and fresh. Our friends had a seafood pasta with a ton of fresh clams in it and a chicken dish with blue cheese sauce, everyone was happy.
Two lunches were enjoyed at Pizza Floramye on the main square in Hvar town. The owner of the house we rented recommended it and pointed out it was locally owned and operated, which is a big deal. We had a couple of great pizzas and tomato salads, washed down with some very light and refreshing Croatian beer.
Another two lunches were had a beach bars out in the Peklani Islands, one on Sveti Klement and the other at Mlini Beach Bar. Sevti Klement was good, some basic bruschetta and crepes were enjoyed after a few hours on the beach. Mlini had a more robust offering, but in the end not terribly high in quality. We enjoyed our salads and fried sausage (I think I'm turning into a Czech) but it was pretty much beach shack quality.
The green market in Hvar seemed to run pretty early in the morning, as such we never saw much going on there, which was too bad as the one in Split was excellent.