Updated: Feb 19, 2019
When you see a fully packed restaurant terrace and waiters that give you a smile while they engage their warp drive to serve all the tables, then you must be in a right place! Mrs Lenka Šajina, the director of the Tourist Board of Žminj, took us to the Tavern Žminjka, right in the centre of this cosy town in the Central Istria. It is an institution of traditional Istrian specialities and a family run business since 1972!
Mrs Oriana Erman, the lady of the house, greets us with a warm smile, and gives us a place inside, right beneath an old picture of Žminj. The restaurant is just classic, with fireplace in the centre, and Istrian bukaleta, inviting to taste the famous Istrian wine soup. But few glasses of Legovina Istrian Malvasia, and world becomes instantly happier!
Žminjka is a place of excellent brunches (marenda), but don’t expect fish as the main dish here. There have been no fishermen in Žminj, not in the past nor in the present. People used to rely on local dishes and the most festive ones consist today the core of the Žminjka’s menu. It includes fuži or gnocchi with game meat, beef or chicken. You can find here ravioli with cream and prosciutto, homemade sausages, pork’s loin (ombolo), beef, pork or turkey schnitzel. More elaborative offer is baked rabbit, cooked hen with a soup, and grilled pork or lamb.
Our own experience in Žminjka was indeed meaty… Even for our hardcore meat-eating team, it was somewhat a surprise to find beef tripe, sausages with sauerkraut, and fuži with beef stew as the summer fair menu! They tell us it is even meatier for the St. Bartholomew Fest. For this favourite saint, Žminjka prepares cabbage with mutton, fuži with roe deer, and the best minestrone one can find in Istria! Sheep roam freely in nearby Krculi before they end up on the table of Žminjka and similar places in this town.
Minestrone (maneštra) is something Istria is particularly famous for, but Žminjka is known far and wide for its excellent thick soups and stews. Jota (bean stew with turnip), jačmik (barley stew with beans), hen stew, dishes with mushrooms, all these simple meals with substantial memories are given nowadays as prime specialities of rural Istria. And yes, they are good. Really good!
We confirm it without a shred of doubt, as our own lunch guided us to the core of Istrian country dining. Tripe, so despised by generations of children and often by adults too, carry completely different meaning in Žminjka, where it is a soft and hearty dish. The fuži with beef stew turned to be even better, and it clearly shows how much effort and time is needed to make a good beef stew! Personal favourite is the Istrian sausage, rich in flavour, with surprisingly mild and juicy sauerkraut, definitely a better version from the winter variation when sauerkraut is, well… sour.
A place for family gathering or just a brunch, for some festival or as a gastronomadic experience, Žminjka is an unavoidable place of real rural dining. You cannot miss it if you arrive in the centre of Žminj. It is on the southern side of the big junction, on a road to Labin and Barban, with a clear sign pointing to the big terrace and cosy interior.
Stara vrata 7D, 52341 Žminj
+385 (0)52 846 438