It is not easy to look from the wine cellar through the window at guests eating in the restaurant, but it is very nice to eat and enjoy the view through the same transparent wall at the barrels in which wine is maturing. And at which ones will be drunk next time. This is what the Josić Restaurant in Zmajevac in Baranja offers, a place famous for its unique wine cellars (gatori) which have been dug horizontally into the sandy hillside. Into five such cellars Damir Josić has combined a tasting room, a wine cellar and an excellent restaurant whose offer goes beyond the ordinary. Freshwater fish are not only prepared in the ordinary way of the Danube basin and Slavonian regions but also like those from the sea.
Besides the paprikaš, perkelt and čobanac stew fish recipes, also on offer are marinated and risotto dishes. There are different kinds of smoked fish and the dishes are not so delicate as those that are normally from the sea. The recipes are very well thought out and the combination of tradition and modern trends is very refreshing for a restaurant selection at the far east of Croatia. Also attractive are the catfish on skewers and fillets of perch filled with aromatic cheese. They offer grilled, baked and skewered carp. The portions are, it could be said, in the Baranja style, ample.
Grilled duck breast, goose liver in cognac sauce, rump steak with porcini mushrooms are some of the meat dishes, amongst which there is a lot of wild game. Almost all of the dishes are prepared in front of the guest because the barbecue, baking lid and spit are in open stove in the restaurant. They also have some excellent bread, and for every dish from the menu there is also some wine on offer from their own winery. The pairings are very well thought out, however these recommendations are not mandatory, and a dozen of the fine wines can be ordered by the glass. Occasionally they offer either fish or meat menus that include a main course, starter, dessert and a bottle of wine at very reasonable prices.
Of course, before or after eating you can visit the wine cellar, taste the wines, and in the gift shop they sell Baranja peppers, straw animals, ceramic model Baranja houses and other decorative items, as well as Josić wines, the majority of labels of which feature the protected birds promoting the nearby Kopački Rit Nature Park.
Authora of photography: Davor Javorović/PIXSELL i Marko Mrkonjic/PIXSELL