June 8 – 10, 2016
We arrived on the 2:05 ferry from Hvar which got in closer to 2:30. I’m not sure how they do their schedules as both the ferry from Dubrovnik to Hvar and the one from Hvar to Split left on time and got in late. In any case we walked to our hotel, Villa Ana, five minutes east of the old town.
Villa Ana is a Rick Steves’s pick, I’m not sure what drew me to this place when I was choosing where to stay in Split but I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s not a bad place, rooms are spacious, clean and quiet, but it feels somewhat dated. Although it is convenient to the Palace, just 5 -7 minute walk, it’s on the side of the palace with very few recommended restaurants. Also the car rental agencies are on the other end of town, as well as the museum, swimming beaches and the Marjan Peninsula.
Wifi was Ok although the connection wasn’t consistent. The minimal breakfast options included a cheese and cold cut platter, hot dogs, a couple of pieces of fruit, small dish of vegies, eggs made to order – sunny side up or omelet – nice soft white bread, and a choice of coco puffs or cornflakes. Good coffee with fresh milk was also available.
We tried lunch next door at Hotel Diana which was OK but more convenient than good. They do, however, have a pleasant covered terrace.
Dinner at Augubio Congo
This small restaurant in the heart of the palace has a pleasant outdoor terrace open to the stars and surrounded by ancient walls. Service is friendly but not very efficient with a long wait between our first and second courses. I’m not sure why the delay, either, as the dining room was only about half full.
They charge 30 kuna ($4.50USFD) for the bread that is served with an excellent fish paté if you like that sort of thing.
We started with two cold soups, the gazpacho which was fresh and spicy and the celery, a heavy cream soup laced with truffle oil – tasty with nice celery flavor.
For mains we tried the tuna which Don pronounced delicious and perfectly cooked meaning just barely
and the monk fish – a huge portion in a creamy truffle sauce and served with crispy polenta wedges, a bit too creamy and saucy for my tastes but others might like it.
I was going to skip desert, but the pie case was just in view from our table and I kept seeing what looked like a key lime pie rotating in the case. No it couldn’t be. I asked the waiter if it was indeed a lime tart. He light up and replied, “Yes, yes it is. Do you want some?” I couldn’t pass it up. It turned out to be just the sort of key lime pie I love, nice and tart and not too heavy, and in Croatia even. I only rarely find it in the US. Better still desert was on the house.
Dinner at Mazzgoon
The atmospheric popular eatery was hoping on a Thursday evening with a mix of people of all ages, not just the middle aged English speaking tourist type you see at many of Tripadvisors’ top picks. Service, unfortunately, was extremely slow. We were there a good 30 minutes before we got anything other than the menu, not even an offer of water. It then took another 30 minutes to get our starter. They did give us a small bite from the chef, a small thin bread with a dollop of venison paté which was quite tasty.
Watching other tables our bad fortune didn’t seem to hold true for others. Guests at one table that came in after us got drinks and food and were leaving as we were just getting our starter.
Food quality is a mixed bag. The platter of hand cut local prosciutto served with a homemade onion jam was excellent.
For mains we ordered the seafood pasta, a traditional Croatian dish served in a polka dot pot – homemade pasta in a tomato based sauced and succulent white fish, shrimp and other seafood.
The goat however was the worst dish of the trip. Never have I had such chewy and fatty morsels of meat. The goat chunks, cooked sous vide, were served on a skewer. A terrible way to cook goat which generally does better with a long braise or roasted. This method only preserved the fattiness.
I don’t know where they get such fat goat which is generally a lean meat. When the server asked how I like the dish I told him that I don’t like such fatty meat. He suggested that next time I’ll know not to order the goat. I suggest that to you as well. Don’t order the goat.
Lunch at Posejdon
Located on the west side of the Palace near the Iron Gate, we picked this place at random based on its pleasant setting with good people watching.
We loved the anchovy pizza with onions and capers and no cheese.
The octopus salad, however, was one of the worst ever. How could such a beautiful salad have absolutely no flavor?
And don’t forget drinks under the stars at Luxor, located in the Peristyle Square, the heart of the Palace.