Despite the genius advert „Žuju pijem i na renesansu brijem“ (understandable only to Croats, but lets say it is a good way to connect Ožujsko beer and Renessaince), the staff of Fran Krsto Frankopan tavern in the Nova Kraljevica Castle are not dressed in Renessaince uniforms nor do they roam the castle in knight dress. Still, they make food suitable for the royalties! It was our overwhelming luck to try the best of it.
The owner Vanja Devčić can be easily mistaken for the guy from the neighbourhood, but he gives a special flair to this place. Checking all the corners of his restaurant with a blink of his eye, he still sits relaxed with us during our meal and tells us everything – from the astonishing ideas of his kitchen to the first words of his kid. Bless him! Vanja is a true modern face of Kraljevica's and Kvarner's culinary scene and yet loyal to the traditional flavours cherished by the locals.
Of course, the setting of the tavern gives tremendous charm to the rustic interior, evoking the bygone ages. Within the thick walls of the castle, guests can enjoy the elaborative menu consisting of daily local dishes (marenda) and a la carte pasta, fish, and meat specialities. If you thought we were thinking of poor old Fran Krsto Frankopan when we have tried gnocchi named after his family, you're wrong. This might be one of the best things we have eaten lately in the realm of pasta and its relatives. Gnocchi Frankopan is filled with a combination of prosciutto and shrimps in a white sauce made of four kinds of cheese (gorgonzola is easily detected); almost as a balance of influences in Kraljevica, which is characterised by the sea and by the mountainous hinterland. Indeed, an ingenious dish!
Beautifully arranged octopus salad was an excellent object to be photographed with the sea in the back. We did it on a single window overlooking the narrow mouth of the Kraljevica's port. Here, on the southwestern wall of the castle, one can see numerous sailboats dotted in a small marina. Their owners come back every summer and often eat in the tavern, where they can understand some verses of Card from Kraljevica by heart. It is a poem about this town, written on a vault inside the tavern, with pictures of old Kraljevica. There is something, well, medieval and romantic in it. Can you imagine saying your neighbours and friends: „Yes, we've been again with our boat in Kraljevica; we parked it in front of the castle, where we had a nice lunch and dinner“. Not only will they envy you substantially; the image in their heads is way smaller than the reality.
The reason is that they cannot feel the flavour of food served in the castle. We continued our exploration with a solid scampi served with šurlice (typical Krk/Frankopan pasta), a mild reminder of the seafront and we were astonished by the Cabernet Sauvignon of Iuris Winery, which was just perfect companion to this gastronomic journey. It was continued with another three main courses, each specific and great for its tastes.
First, we had a juicy medium beefsteak with very mild truffle sauce, served with green pasta, an excellent piece of meat and our recommendation to all of you carnivores! When steak is prepared with a minimal amount of additional sauce or sides, we claim it is a quality-made and nurtured meat. Indeed, truffles are obviously deliberately made mild, just to accentuate the tenderness of steak. But, if you like fish more, don't despair. The tavern has a beautiful experience in fish dishes. We had first swordfish, one of the best quality fish in the Adriatic. Grilled swordfish steak is a very rewarding dish, with a specific and substantial flavour. That is why we were satisfied that it was served with Swiss chard, which gives only a mild background to this nice meal. Tuna might be same oily fish as swordfish, but its familiar taste gives an option of playing with its meat. In Frankopan, they serve tuna steak with wok vegetables and curry sauce, which is a great combination of strong and rich tuna and total twist with crunchy vegetables and the everpresent scent of curry.
The scenic backdrop of this tavern is perfect for various celebrations, brunches and banquettes, and of course the weddings. Given the castle's vaults in the inner courtyard and perfect food inside, the Tavern Frankopan is among the most romantic and enchanting places for lunch or dinner.
Konoba Fran Krsto Frankopan
ROVINA BB, Kraljevica
+385 51 282 192, +385 92 298 9885
Working hours: 10:00 – 23:00