If one wants to grab a beer in Rijeka, there are plenty of places to do so, but Brasserie As, in the very centre of the biggest Croatian port, is the unavoidable point for every Belgian beer fan. Still, there are is also a wide range of Croatian beer present and, of course, wine. But, not to have another gastronomy report that started with alcoholisation, we would like to stress that our arrival here was part of de-toxication therapy with asparagus! And, as it usually turns out, we did end with great introduction to the menu of this brasserie.
Newly refurbished As entered a new season with its old flair and charm of a cosy urban beerhouse that serves both local and mostly Flemish cuisine. Interestingly enough, the kitchen is made of Bosnian cooks, whose hands are used to making homemade bread, strudels and pies. A Belgian touch came here with chef Dragan Đurđević, who was also a cook for the French ambassador. He left for Canada, but also gave an important transfer of knowledge which is now the core of As’ cuisine, which is in control of chef Janja Penko.
We listen to this story while sipping Frajona Merlot and indulging into veggie appetizer constisting of full-flavour cucumbers, carrots and celery combined with tartar sauce, olive oil and acetto balsamico. These sauces are just perfect. The olive oil is mild, coming from a family olive grove on island of Cres; it blends great with just a drop of acetto balsamico. Soon we are out of vegetables and beautiful homemade bread takes place in order to clean the plates.
The atmosphere of a Belgian beer house is felt in every detail here, although it has a distinctive urban Croatian addition. This is especially accentuated when huge terrace is open for guests, where additional to nice food and drinks, one can enjoy a typical Croatian hobby: watching people passing by. We even found later Mrs Jasna Delić, the owner of restaurant, sitting with her husband on this great place that overlooks seafront on one side and the famous Korzo street and Governer’s Palace in distance on other side. A special table in entrance reminds us of health and vitality on plate, during the Rijeka Detox Week, with asparagus as the main actor.
But it was an excellent soup of chickpea, beetroot, toasted bread and few drops of olive oil that took our imagination. Mild soup is full of chickpea taste, while beetroot is like those you would plant and care in your own backyard. We ask how come that vegetables in As are so good and full of flavour. Almost all vegetables come from the Rijeka’s marketplace, a usual belly of town, and there are some vegetable growers who sell their products directly to the restaurant. In this way, As uses the best of seasonal ingredients. Beetroot and chickpea is also part of salads, enriched with corn salad.
Not to be left without having something typically Belgian, the chef surprised us with the Flemish beef cooked in dark Leffe beer and with baked potatoes. It has characteristic aroma of beer-based meals. The beef is evidently cooked by experts, as it is soft and perfectly blended with the sauce. Belgian recipes are great example for blending of beer in plate and wine for drink, and this dish is no exception. It is an old tradition in Belgium to start a dinner with glass of Belgian beer, which goes also with appetizer. Later, beer is usually served only as part of a dish, while people drink wine as major companion on table.
Another As’ favourite is its dedication to game dishes. Such is the young boar goulash served to us, very nicely prepared cubes of meat with even better gnocchi that goes excellently with forest berries sauce. Not too spicy, just perfect to savour without having that familiar feeling of full belly.
Brasserie As is part of the Belgian Beer Café chain. offers a wide range of Belgian specialty beers, ranging from the renowned brands to local beers. On top, it also offers many more experiences besides the sampling of Belgian beers.The hearty dishes and the excellent service in an authentic atmosphere make Belgian Beer Café the place where you can come for every occasion. It serves as rural and cosmopolitan place. The Belgian Beer Café ‘Cosmopolitan Concept’ is not a place for excess and carousing. No, here people eat and drink with style and moderation. The cuisine is simple, but is really intended for gourmands who love robust, original flavours. The service is flawless, a detail which is emphasized by the spotless white jackets of the waiters who serve at the tables.
And they bring sweets too! Chocolate mousse reminds very much on the Belgian traditions, but there are traits of local flavours especially when the kitchen staff combines forest berries with cream and add them to sweet black gnocchi in very presentable glass boxes.
Overall, Brasserie As is true to its brand of a Belgian beer café, but with a distinctive local twist. As such, it can be a great place for a night out or for brunches; and while its wine list is pleasantly offered, it is still a beer-fan place with great and hearty food, reminiscent of Belgian and Croatian traditions.
Brasserie As Trg Republike Hrvatske 2, Rijeka Tel. 00385 51 212 148 https://www.facebook.com/Brasserie-As-569999426429881/ firstname.lastname@example.org