Locally caught fish around the islands of Cres and Lošinj is the basis of fish restaurant “Za kantuni” menu. This place, owned by the tourist company of shipping firm Lošinjska plovidba, is situated as its name says “round the corner” from Lošinj’s main coast road. It looks old, and the look is truthful, as this was in 1903 Bierhalle Dreher, a beer house for Austrian tourists led by a Slovenian Franc Jakobič. At the time, Lošinj was known as a fragrant island, perfect for a winter getaway and summer paradise. It stayed like that, and the place was a restaurant up to the present day.
Today, Za Kantuni offers authentic island foods, made according to the recipes of old grannies and adapted to the modern times. The restaurant also offers adapted ancient menus, based on the Greek and Roman artefacts. All ingredients used by Chef stem from the Kvarner region and wine predominantly from Istria.
We came (a bit) late, but the staff was very pleasant, and the restaurant’s manager was eager to tell us more about the history of this place for fine dining. For us, it was indeed a fine dining, a combination of seafood so fresh that you can really taste the scent of the sea.
Marinated anchovies with Pepe-Fish tomatoes, pasta with scampi, tuna steak, shrimps, bonito pate, and octopus salad was an introductory meal, somewhat as a menu and greeting from the chef. Even a bit of this fish plate shouldn’t be wasted, as the fresh aroma gives impulses for more. Do not be afraid of dipping the bread into olive oil afterwards, as Za Kantuni bakes its own bread.
We’ve also tried the homemade pljukanci pasta with shrimps. It is a solid combination of Kvarner and Istria, as pljukanci originate from this biggest Croatian peninsula. Pljukanci are becoming more and more favourite among locals and tourists as it brings back old styles of pasta making. It is hand-rolled and specific to Istria. Chewy and perfect for seafood, in Za Kantuni they make pljukanci with a variety of toppings.
Our main course was sea bass filet that came from the fish farm in Cres we have visited earlier, and combined in an old recipe from Lošinj, served with mint and artichoke sauce. It is a really old recipe, discovered partly through the records in the restaurant itself, but more than that it resembles Lošinj as a fragrant island, full of Mediterranean scent.
Evidence for that may also be found in desserts, such as the lemon cake. Lošinj is the northernmost island in the Adriatic that is rich in citrus fruits. Due to its mild climate, Lošinj boasts with oranges, mandarins, lemons, and all other fruits that usually grow in more southern places. Given this fact, the lemon cake in Za Kantuni is superb, as well as the mild wine from Istria, featuring Pilato Malvasia from Vižinada, from where also come Cabernet Sauvignon and Borgogna. For more nuanced tastes, there is Žlahtina Toljanić, a respect to the nearby island of Krk.
Anyone visiting Lošinj should definitively try sea richness in Za Kantuni, and learn a bit more about the island’s history of food.