Sunday, November 22, 2015

Review: Nostromo

Even More Seafood in Split, Croatia

Freshly caught squid, grilled and served wit half a lemon
Swiss chard with potatoes on the side

Nostromo is a seafood restaurant located by an open air fish market in Split. Despite the crowds and the smells nearby, the establishment itself is decidedly upmarket. Or at least, it probably is during the height of summer. When we walked in for lunch in November, frames and paintings were strewn all over the restaurant, making the place seem like a haphazard artist's studio. However, a waitress popped over to us right away, and lead us away from the discarded art and up a wooden staircase. We passed numerous photographs of famous patrons and arrived to the first floor, where the venue still seemed to be a restaurant. Imagine white walls, wood paneling and tables laid out in yellow and white cloth. A chef's jacket hung on a peg in one corner, and a large pile of menus were stacked on one of the tables. All told, it definitely felt like we'd arrived off-season. 

The interior. Apologies for the poor photo, but
someone here is obviously on a mission to cover
all the walls with paintings

Of course, there is an upside to all of this. Only one other table was busy, and we were looked after well by our waitress. She left us to spend some time with the menus once we were seated, dashing off to the kitchen. As she came back to take our orders, I skipped the simple a la carte offerings to ask about the fish and seafood sold by weight. Quite a large part of the menu was priced by weight, with better quality fish and seafood (i.e. lobster) being more expensive. She explained that availability generally depended on the day's catch, a sample of which she brought over from the kitchen in a huge tray. Sadly, my friend had her heart set on "sea fruit" risotto, and I had to hold back from ordering an interesting looking but monstrously large fish for the two of us, opting for grilled squid instead. 

Mixed "sea fruit" risotto

The wait for our food was noticeable - I suspect - due to the risotto. We had some not so fresh bread on the table to pass the time, and were charged 10 KN a head for the privilege. Thankfully, our main courses were much better. My friend's risotto came out delicious and creamy - a testament to the rice used and a welcome respite from the drier risottos we'd had in the country. The quality (if not the amount) of the seafood stood out, and the ingredients were really what made the dish special. The story with my squid was similar. Grilled just right, the tentacles were slightly charred but the bulk of the meat was soft and chewy. Each animal was properly cleaned out, something I'm very particular about, and an area where many restaurants fall down. A squeeze of lemon onto my plate, and I went on to have what was probably my best meal in Split. I'd also ordered a side of Swiss chard, which was served stirred through with potatoes, and rounded off my meal rather nicely. Beware - the portions for sides are generous, and easily shared between two. 

Our bill came to 280 KN, including our mains, a diet Coke and a small glass of house red. The risotto was priced at 100 KN, while my 300.00 g of squid cost 130 KN. The lesson to be learned - the a la carte menu is reasonably priced, and the food sold by weight slightly more expensive. It didn't feel so bad though, especially for Split, where everything is quite expensive in and around the old city. In fact, Nostromo is the only restaurant at this price range where we felt satisfied with our food, given the money we had spent. The food is simple, and the cooking perhaps nothing so special, but the fresh ingredients are what makes the restaurant stand out. 

Food: 7/10
Service: 7/10
Atmosphere: 6.5/10
Value: 6.5/10

Final Score: 7/10

Contact Information
A: Kraj Sv. Marije 10, Split, Croatia
T: +385 91 405 666
W: N/A

NB. The final score, while influenced by the sub-scores, is a qualitative reflection of my overall impression of the establishment.

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