How Croats imagine tapas

On the northeastern corner of the Ban Jelačić square, next to (or within) Johann Franck, you'll find Sol (Salt), a tapas sharing concept where all the ingredients and wines are Croatian, and plates are made for sharing. Created and run by Mate Janković, a well-known Croatian chef, this is the second incarnation of Sol - tapas the Croatian way, having moved from the corner of Ilica and Margaretska.

The tapas here are a restaurant concept of food meant to be shared between a couple of people, with courses coming to the table in an orderly fashion, not Spanish finger foods you pick at the bar with your glass of wine.

The interior is simple and functional, with nods to the salt theme, including huge overhead lamps filled with salt from the island of Pag.

The service is efficient, even when the place is packed, and the food is technically perfect.

What is served

Sol makes breakfasts with several kinds of poached and scrambled eggs with a bunch of toppings to pick from.

Most guests come in the evening for a selection of hot and warm tapas, exciting variations of Croatian classics like savory profiterole filled with smoked trout and trout caviar, or a chef's version of Sicilian arancini made out of typical Skradin veal risotto or Lamb with peas stew.

Flavors are masterfully combined, food is elaborate in preparation and technique, and it offers great value for money—when we consider Sol's prime location in the city center.

Cooking is playful yet standardized, using distinctively Croatian ingredients, such as the black Slavonian pig, Gacka river trout from Lika, and Simental beef.

Most dishes are the chef's interpretation of traditional Croatian dishes, like Dalmatian classic lamb stew with peas, or pašticada, even the fabled veal risotto from Skradin, which takes two days to cook.

Among the hot and cold tapas, there are 4 vegetarian and vegan options, such as roasted carrots with pesto, zucchini carpaccio, and grilled peach with goat's cheese and caramelized onions.

Every dish is technically perfect, flavors are balanced and exciting.

Sol's menu has 6 kinds of cheese from the island of Pag, most made by Gligora, in different stages of aging and varying mixtures of cow and sheep.

The wine list fits the concept of a tapas bar, with 33 reds and 17 whites. Three champagnes, 6 Croatian sparkling wines, 2 roses, and 6 dessert wines, carefully picked from every corner

of Croatia, among the more commercial wineries and the smaller, family-run ones.

The concept works well since Sol seems packed most nights and the staff handles it well. Everyone is happy, which you can tell by the good kind of bistro noise.

What our chefs had

We started the tasting with the signature dish, profiteroles filled with cheese and smoked Gacka trout lightly dusted with sugar and red trout caviar. This menu's true star balances flavors nicely, offering an exciting play on the textures.

Our second plate was a giant gnocco filled with pašticada, traditionally slow-braised beef in bitter-sweet dried plum and red wine sauce, with cloves, bacon, and carrots. Tasty and satisfyingly rich.

Next, we were brought cottage cheese croquettes, deeply fried and sprinkled with foraged edible herbs. Refreshing and mild in flavor.

Beef tartare with truffles, and chives, sprinkled with pine nuts followed, and it was well done and fresh, with balanced flavors.

Refreshing branzino carpaccio served in an emulsion of olive oil, orange and lemon juices served as a palate cleanser, with citrusy notes and young, spicy olive oil.

For dessert, we had zlevanka, a traditional white cornflour sponge cake with raisins, topped with sweetened cottage cheese, and baked.

We finished everything with the second star of Sol's menu, Međimureo, an interpretation of traditional filo pastry layered cake from the region of Međimurje, where layers are filled with cottage cheese, poppy seeds, apples, and walnuts. In Sol's case, it was two sponge layers, one poppy, the other walnuts, and a layer of creme fraiche with apples in the middle. Great textures and is reminiscent of the real thing but much lighter.

We had a glass of Šember sparkling wine from nearby Plešivica vineyards.

Altogether our bill came to 67 euro for two people.

Monday to Saturday, 12:00 to 00:00
Trg bana Josipa Jelačića 9, Zagreb
Monday to Saturday, 12:00 to 00:00