Istria is heaven of Earth, something that’s known to anybody who’s visited it at least once. A vision and the superb way local restaurant owners treat their guest is definitely what makes this area so special. If you’ve come to Istria to unwind, it’s exactly what you’ll get once you visit Tavern Sole.
Halfway between Umag and Buje, just a ten minutes’ drive from endless beaches is a lovely house that looks like an Istrian version of a Mexican hacienda. The pleasant, spacious and elegant terrace (available during the summer, whereas during the winter everything happens in the interior section where wood and rock prevail) makes an ideal sanctuary for those who feel drained and seek a bit of pampering and great service. Of course, they should be hungry as well because this primarily fish restaurant is a place where you eat slowly and every bite is fully relished...
As soon as you take your first bites, you’ll see how seriously freshness and seasonality are taken into account. A wide selection of finger food coming from local fishermen straight to your table. You should definitely try the marinated anchovies, salted sardines in peppers, fresh raw shrimp, sea bass carpaccio or something from the wide selection of shellfish. But you’ll get the biggest kick when you try the warm starters because Sole chefs are renowned for their homemade pasta (fuži, tagliatelle, bavette) with the somewhat forgotten bigoli being an invaluable delicacy. But when they’re combined with shellfish, penny buns and truffles, they make a specialty worthy of cookbooks. A brilliant dish!
The varied fish selection is based on the catch brought in by local fishermen with John Dory, scorpionfish, sea bass and sea bream always being included in the menu. But asking the helpful staff for advice regarding the suggestion of the day is always the best option because the fishermen often bring in a surprise catch. Meat dishes are based on local ingredients and traditional recipes. It’s not uncommon that these traditional recipes are combined with the latest culinary trends. Fuži with home-reared chicken, gnocchi with venison, several kinds of beefsteak and the mandatory fiorentina are highly sought after.
Olive oil, bread, all types of paste, except spaghetti, are homemade. The wine list contains about twenty local labels, mostly from Bujština and northern Istria. As a traditional representative of Istria, Malvasia is a special standout. Here you’ll get a superb Malvasia from the Katunar winery. Finally, you can choose from five fresh homemade desserts ranging from chocolate, cheese to wild berries...
Tavern Sole isn’t a place to have a quick bite nor does it cater to people who eat just in order to stay alive. Sole is an homage to relishing the best cooking, a family business run by hard-working people where everyone knows perfectly what they need to do. One of the best homemade pastas you’ve ever tried, a fabulous fish selection, fireplace, nets, shells, rose garden and pure love for Istria. A place where you’re bound to come back.
Author of photography: Duško Marušić/PIXSELL