Balkan cuisine with a metropolitan flair
The story about this successful restaurant serving favourite dishes of Balkan cuisine is slightly different from everything you read about on Delicious. Primarily because this is not a romantic story of restaurant tradition and family business, boutique dining and catering related to one location and/or name of a committed and respected chef. Batak, which is named after the Croatian word for chicken drumstick, is fruit of a serious and well-thought-out project; omitting its name in the discourse on gastronomy in Zagreb would simply be unjustified.
Although the owners set off their business journey by opening several well-attended nightclubs, considering Zagreb's deep-seated love for good food, the step into the world of gastronomy was quite logical. The first restaurant of this, today, chain of grill restaurants, opened its doors in Zagreb's Rudeš – which soon showed to be a good idea. Ten years and fifteen locations in Zagreb later, Batak is still flourishing and spreading to the Croatian coast. Recipe for success? A consistent delivery of quality, a nonstop re-evaluation and adapting to challenges of trends in a tastefully decorated interior, which is a must for the ever-stylish Zagrebians, along with warm atmosphere and always-smiling staff.
What is served
The most popular dish in Batak is certainly the Balkan-type barbecue, locally called roštilj, in other words delicacies made of minced meat, mostly beef, in the form of super-popular ćevapi and burger-like pljeskavice. Ćevapi, the most famous dish of the Balkans, as well as the rest of the offer usually served with them, are a legacy of the Ottoman Empire rule on the major part of the Balkan Peninsula. And as soon as you bite into a succulent and spicy grilled ćevap, it's easy to understand why. Ćevapi are usually accompanied by juicy, warm flatbread soaked in meat juices from roast, and delicious kajmak, a creamy fermented milk fat. Then there is the star in the supporting role – the burger patty, locally called pljeskavica, often in a “gourmet” spicy version, with the addition of bacon and paprika. Both are often found in the so-called “plate”, which are a kind of tasting menu, in fact large meat platters to be shared between several persons, with various meat dishes with side dishes, among which, in addition to ćevapi and pljeskavice, there are also stuffed vješalice, which are rolled pork steaks filled with cheese and wrapped in bacon. There are also mazalice – toasted bread slices with a spread of a tender minced meat mixture, meat patties (dumplings), and a whole variety of side dishes, most often baked beans, baked potatoes and croquettes. In keeping up with the trends, Batak gradually included dishes that are not traditionally served in such restaurants, such as traditional burgers or American BBQ ribs, but also more refined dishes such as foie gras pate with truffles, burrata or beef tartar. We should also mention the Zagreb steak, which is a must-try for people visiting the city; other dishes include, for example, black angus ribeye or salmon fillet. There is also a variety of salads, as well as kids’ menus including, for example, fried chicken.
The beverage program is rather thorough. Of the fifteen beers, several of them are from craft production; the wine program includes some important Croatian wines and autochthonous Croatian varieties, and among the spirits there is a number of popular Croatian liqueurs and brandies, as well as several important world spirits. In addition, the list of drinks has been refined with several cocktails, and there is also the usual selection of juices and hot drinks.
What our chefs had
Although the Delicious team visited the restaurant with a firm plan to taste ćevapi, we were intrigued by their daily offer, which includes traditional winter dishes such as ham hock with sauerkraut, Zagorje soup, or delicious roasted veal liver with garlic, which were also our choice. We continued with the excellent beef tartar, which was, following the today’s trends, nicely understatedly spicy, and served with toasted brioche and butter. Before the imperative plata, we shared a burger in the classic version, in a bun with sesame, tomato, onion and green salad. The finale was the “Gourmet plata” for two, consisting of ćevapi with cheese, a gourmet pljeskavica, a stuffed vješalica, meat dumplings, and baked potato and button mushrooms, with a spicy sauce. As the side dish, we opted for an excellent fresh Shopska salad. The meat was clearly of high quality, as always, perfectly roasted on the outside and juicy on the inside, with a smoky flavour coming from open fire. We had a bottle of excellent wine, from the most important Croatian wine variety, graševina, recently awarded at the world's most important wine competition.