Modern Croatian cuisine as it should be: surprising and seasonal
In one of the old courtyards of Masarykova, the promenade street that connects Cvjetni trg and Croatian National Theatre, you’ll find Nav – a modern restaurant, focusing on sustainable food with Zero Waste, run, owned and maintained by Tvrtko Šakota.
Cooking at Nav is competent and whimsical, as it all runs straight from the chef, who prepares the food and serves the guests himself, so the experience is personalized and entertaining at the same time.
The restaurant interior is minimalist, yet cozy, with comfortable seating.
Nav accommodates 15 people, so prior booking is recommended. Service is dynamic and personalized.
Gault&Millau gave Nav 3 hats and Michelin guide describes it as creative and surprising.
What is served
The menu comes together every day, based on the available ingredients and chef’s inspiration. Sometimes each table gets different dishes, at the chef’s discretion.
The wine list is short, but assembled with care, focusing on biodynamic and organic wines that follows the chef’s artistic approach to cooking.
Nav can be summed up as a personalized cooking experience with a lot of interaction with the chef and the kitchen, since there is no other staff involved. Dishes you can try at Nav are completely opposite from anything you might find in Zagreb; exciting, modern, with a lot of fermented foods.
Nav’s highly original recipes with recognizable signature of the chef equals amazing value for money.
What our chefs had
Our Nav journey started with sprouts of wild asparagus, whose mild bitterness was complemented by another similar flavor, of the fava beans, a pairing that worked surprisingly
well and used a neglected flavor palette.
Kefir with sweet baby carrots served as a palate cleanser and refreshment, before we dived into the complexity of macarons with charred vegetables.
Macarons with charred vegetables which had a specific sweetness and a kind of creaminess paired with the bitter taste of the charred sections, then brought back with the sweetness macaron. This dish is an impressive balancing act of flavors.
Chili and ramen worked as two ends of a spectrum, savory and simple on one end, and aggressive and hot on the other, to reach amazing heights out of almost nothing.
“Ćevap” kajmak was enjoyably greasy, with a bit of salt and tang from the clotted cream (kajmak is the Balkan version of clotted cream, sour and salty, but very satisfying).
Squid was sweet and tender, meaty and tasty.
Beetroot chocolate pairs several earthy notes, that of the cocoa bean, and the humble beet, to accent the sweetness of each part of this pairing, and draw out other lingering aromas.
The circle was complete with another kefir and carrot cleanser, but this time it was carrot leaves, which added a nice herbal component to the aromas.
Each dish was deserving of a Michelin star – if they ever gave them out to one-man kitchens, like Nav.
Wine pairings worked well with the dishes served.
Our Nav experience cost us 150 euros per person, including wine pairings.