When you're driving from Split to Dubronvik--and you should be driving from Split to Dubrovnik, and not sitting on a bus, or, not visiting Dubrovnik--you'll pass by a little town on a peninsula called Mali Ston.
Mali Ston and Ston are well worth a stop. There's an incredible wall built some 500-600 year ago, which connects Mali Ston and Ston. And there are also oyster and salt beds. And where there are oyster beds, there are oysters. And where there are oysters, there's me with a glass of white wine.
Mali Ston is a tiny little town situated right on the water. Incredibly clean and pure water. That's where the oysters grow. There are two restaurants right next to each other: Bota Sare, and Kapetanova kuca. We chose the latter, as Bota Sare has restaurants in both Split and Dubrovnik, two towns we'd be spending time in. And, the owner of the lovely Dominus Little Palace in Dubrovnik advised that Kapetanova has a "the best" black rice dish.
Once we got to town, there's a tiny little road took us around what appeared to be the remnants of a castle (and I wasn't sure if I was even supposed to be driving there) and dropped us off right in front of the restaurant. This was my first day on the road and I wasn't sure where to park. But cars seemed to be just sort of parked next to the water. So that's what I did. When we arrived at about 2 pm, the place was jumpin'. There's a very spacious outdoor patio that seats about 60 people. We grabbed a table and got right into it.
Since learning about this town a few weeks prior to arriving, I couldn't wait to have my first oysters from Mali Ston. Judging by some videos and photos, I concluded that there's not much liquor in these oysters. That seemed to be the case. It's unclear to me if Croatians enjoy the liquor. They seem to dump it out, which boggles my mind. Additionally, the shells on these oysters are quite shallow, so there's not much of a chance to enjoy that liquor. Unfortunate, given that beautiful water.
But, BUT, they seemed super fresh, briny, with an incredibly clean flavor. Really a pleasure. But I will say that I didn't order oysters during the trip after having them here.
The meal started off with an amuse-bouche. Some shrimp in lemon and olive oil along with what was described as "fish pâté." I assumed this would be made from sea urchin, since those things are abundant up and down the Dalmatian Coast, clinging on to the rocky waterline, stabbing the bottoms of the feet of unsuspecting tourists. But, it was actually a puree of white fleshed fish.
We also ordered grilled shrimp. I had assumed (wrongly, again--it took a while to figure out this Croatian cuisine business), that some big ol' langoustines would be coming to the table. But they were shelled (and grilled) with garlic and olive oil. Cooked very well and super tender.
Most notable about this shrimp dish was that it was at this point that we realized Croatia has some of the most incredible lemons we've ever had. We couldn't get our heads around how/why this piece of lemon was so good. I shoved it into my mouth to confirm. Yup, like no lemon I'd ever had. Sweet, flavorful, not nearly as tart as the typical specimens. It's a shame there's no cocktail culture in Croatia. They're sitting on incredible raw materials.
The risotto in squid ink came with a variety of seafood (cuttlefish, shrimp, mussels, etc.). It was super, as I was hoping it would be. Typically I'll tire of a dish after eating forkful after forkful. But not the case with this dish. I almost finished the entire dish. Almost.
Everything went well with a bottle of Posip, my new favorite Croatian wine (and new favorite white wine in general). The reds in Croatia tend to be big, fruity affairs, with an ABV of 14% and up. The whites, however, are refined and refreshing.
The prices seemed reasonable, all things considered. It was certainly not an expensive meal, but it wasn't the cheapest we had. The risotto was $18, and the most expensive dish. The service was super-friendly, and entertaining. The server insisted on putting a bib on everyone. He was making jokes all along. It was really enjoyable.
After lunch I walked out to the impossibly clean water and pulled up a mouthful. I finally got that liquor that the oysters didn't provide. And it was glorious.
Kapetanova kuća : Obala dr. Ante Starčevića 9, 20230, Mali Ston, Croatia