We were driving down from the centre of Vrbovsko, always sharply descending all the way to the railway station. Then, next to the wood factory, over the railway, and when you think there is absolutely nothing in front, you reach the entrance to the Kamačnik Gorge.
Right at the beginning of Kamačnik is the restaurant bearing the same name, a testimony to the Vrbovsko gastronomy on the most important tourist spot of this region. The birds are singing, the sun is shining, and all 60-ish sitting places in the restaurant is packed with people. No worries, Mrs Andreja Gudac says. She is the manager of the inn and she takes us to the shadow of wooden pavilion just next to the Kamačnik, which makes a small waterfall into the Dobra River.
The scenery is absolutely gorgeous and akin to the Lord of the Rings fantasy areas. It takes just a small imagination to see the creature Gollum looking for fish that is “juicy sweet”. We didn’t have to grab the Ring of Power to try the juicy and fresh trout, the pride of this restaurant. It comes from the fish farm in Vitunj, not so far away from Vrbovsko, and is among the best fish in the highland area, says Mrs Gudac while we sip tremendously fruity blueberry liqueur.
Not so long ago, a mill was working right where we sit, and its ruins can be seen today. Romantic and enchanting, it guards the entrance to the gorge. At that time, there were more inns around here, serving typical highlander’s cuisine. As the classic industry left, less and less eating opportunities were needed. Today, Kamačnik is the only restaurant in town and serves brunches to the railway and wood industry workers. These consists of stews, tripe, polenta, homemade cheese. The place is known for its deer dishes and especially trout.
But, our mothers would be proud to see we started with a soup, a tradition rooted in the veins of Croatian dining culture. And while mama’s soup is the best, homemade vegetable soup in Kamačnik is refreshing and in fact suits great in hot summer weather. Another toast with Kutjevo Graševina, photo session with Mrs Gudac and her staff, and there comes Her Majesty the trout!
Can you imagine a taste of freshwater with a crunchy crust? That is the essential taste of Kamačnik’s trout! Together with Swiss Chard and potato, a classic combination, we got the garlic and olive oil mix. But not any garlic! Instead of Chinese-origin garlic that is eaten even by vampires, this one is truly tasty and spicy thing, stemming from local producers. A bliss for kissing your boyfriend/girlfriend afterwards! Luckily, we neutralised it with a forest berries strudel, another typical but excellent and rich dessert to die for.
There are lots of opportunities to visit Kamačnik, as they organise many gastronomy events at the inn. From fishermen night and mushroom days up to the largest Vrbovsko’s event, the Pumpkin Days, Kamačnik is place to be!
So, you’d like to be Gollum yourself and eat the fish that is juicy fresh? Take a turn on Rijeka-Zagreb highway to Vrbovsko, enter the city itself, then follow the signposts while descending next to the railway station:
Željeznička 8, Vrbovsko
+385 (51) 896-6957