Best traditional Zagreb dishes in a rustic setting under the Sljeme
Situated in the neighborhood of Mlinovi, Okrugljak is the oldest restaurant in Zagreb, with a hundred-year culinary tradition, focusing on authentic dishes of the region.
Okrugljak interior is dominated by massive Slavonic oak beams and decorated with traditional folk patterns of the Šestine part of Zagorje. The main room has two old green ceramic furnaces from the beginning of the 20th century.
In the summer months, Okrugljak garden is probably the coziest restaurant terrace in town, cooled by the shade of the trees and the bubbling brook Medveščak, turning the creaking wheel of an old water mill attraction.
Table setting invokes tradition, with traditional tablecloths of Šestine paired with premium Villeroy and Boch plates and cutlery. The seating is so comfortable that we did not even notice how long we stayed at Okrugljak.
In Okrugljak, where regular guests are addressed by name, the staff is well trained and knowledgeable and is the heart and soul of the place.
Okrugljak consists of several halls and “houses” for private events and gatherings. The wedding hall can take up to 200 people. The main room takes up to 80 people. Two smaller buildings named “Kućica” can accommodate 50 and 24 people, making them ideal for smaller parties.
Kids are welcome at Okrugljak which has an entire playground on the premises. The restaurant has private parking.
What is served
Okrugljak’s menu is a school of tradition and flavor when it comes to authentic Zagreb dishes, with a couple of classics that add a dash of contemporary to otherwise traditional recipes. The menu changes with seasons, adding dishes based on ingredients available at that time of year.
The set menu varies per day too, 4 cold starters, with a cheese and charcuterie board being the most authentic, 4 soups, 2 kinds of hot starters, 10 meat-based mains, and 1 fish dish.
As a traditionally Croatian place, Okrugljak is known for their lamb from the spit, and veal from under the bell (both have to be ordered in advance, as they take hours to cook) duck roasted on a spit, and a selection of traditional grilled meats.
Guests often comment and love their Steak Tartare, and štrukli.
Okrugljak makes their own mlincI (traditional pasta sheets served with roasts), rezanci (soup noodles), strudels, and štrukle (dough pockets filled with fresh cheese).
Desserts are prepared daily, and the selection changes often, but strudels, especially apple strudel with ice cream, are a staple dessert at Okrugljak.
The wine list is extensive, covering all of the grape varieties from Croatia and the rest of the world. Okrugljak staff can advise or recommend a bottle to your taste.
Gault&Millau awarded Okrugljak with 2 chef’s hats, while Falstaff gave them 1 fork.
What our chefs had
Our meal at Okrugljak began with two kitchen greetings – a chunk of young unsalted local cow cheese on a bed of arugula paired with two cheese-filled pickled hot mini peppers and a grilled slab of homemade bread with goose liver pâté. The flavors were exceptional and well balanced.
For our next course, we had an authentic Zagorje soup, a hearty and filling winter staple of the region.
We continued with slow-cooked veal under the bell, another Croatian favorite, where meat and vegetables are covered with a metal dish, which is then buried in embers and hot coals, leaving it to simmer slowly for hours until it is soft and tender. Served with two balls of gratin potato.
The second main we tried was slow braised cow cheeks, a local delicacy, served with pasta (pljukanci), porcini, and shavings of Grana Padano. So soft and full of taste.
To conclude this symphony of traditional Croatian and Zagreb dishes and flavors, we had pancakes with wet walnuts and hot chocolate.
Altogether with rakija, Coca-Cola, two glasses of wine, and a bottle of water, our meal at Okrugljak came to 97 euros for two people.