soberandhungry's Blog

we love wine, we love food and we love sharing


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Trogir – Croatia – would not recommend a visit

For the last leg of our holiday we traveled to Trogir which is a short coach ride away from Split. We would not recommend that you visit the area if you have spent time in Split because Trogir is a smaller, less impressive and touristy version of the former.

We visited the number one restaurant according to TripAdvisor at the time Don Dino and were hugely disappointed by the set lunch. Although we ordered two different pasta dishes the sauces were the same, the gnocchi was hard and the feta salad should have just been called a feta plate and was really salty. It did not really hit the spot.

Luckily we stayed in a really lovely apartment Ulica Matije Gupca 25 which had a lovely outdoor courtyard. We made use of this for a few of our meals enjoying a takeaway pizza from Riva one night and a large picnic from Konzum (the local supermarker) on another.

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Although the majority of the restaurants and cafes felt incredibly busy and bit ‘samey’ Café Bar Dovani is worth a visit for its ice cream Sundaes, one of which looks like Spag Bol!

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Vis – Croatia – where to eat / best restaurant: Konoba Stončica

After a couple of nights in Split we embarked on our next adventure to Vis the farthest inhabited island off the Croatian mainland. The ferry took a couple of hours and as we entered the harbour we were both pretty chuffed that we had decided to visit. Vis is stunning.

The island itself is not huge with an area of 90.26 square kilometres but it felt like there was a lot to do and the size of the island makes it accessible for exploration! All around the edges of the island are small intimate beaches and our host had recommended a small sandy beach which stood out amongst the pebble beaches we had become accustomed to in Croatia. This adventure led us to discover Konoba Stončica which was our favorite find on the island.

We rented bicycles to get there and where feeling pretty parched as we manoeuvred our way down the side of a hill to lock up our bikes.  Only intending to stay for a drink our eyes were drawn to the food and we stayed for 3 hours! Here we discovered some delicious Croatian Rose that we later discovered was a highly rated brand, the best Octopus Salad we have ever had and Croatian’s can cook potatoes as well as my mum’s Sunday Roasties. Again, the fish came out on a silver plate and they only had the freshest in stock (some items on the menu were not available because they had not been caught) and again we feasted on the best seafood that the Dalmatian sea had to offer. The total bill came to 575.00kn (2 people). After the meal we enjoyed some snorkelling in the sea.

TripAdviosr’s no 1 restaurant at the time of publishing this post is Roki’s. They specialize in ‘Peka’. A Peka is a large metal baking dish with a bell-shaped dome lid. It is used to cook food in an open fireplace, with hot coals and embers placed on top of the dome for even, slow cooking. You need to book 3 hours in advance and we chose the lamb. All the vegetables where freshly plucked from their gardens and their wine is home-made. The restaurant is situated in the heart of Vis and the owner will arrange a car to pick you up. It is worth a visit if you have the time. The total bill came to 496.12kn (2 people)

Some other useful notes if you are off to Vis:  

  • Outdoor Cinema: for 25kn you can sit out under the stars and watch one of the latest blockbusters (in English with Croatian subtitles, need a total of 8 people for the film to show)
  • Rent a bike: to get to all the beaches
  • Rent a Scooter: to get to Komiža which is the other side of the island. Ride through all the vineyards that make up 20% of the arable land
  • War History: we did not find the time to do it, but Vis is island steeped in war history. As well as tours revealing Vis’s secrets, there is a World War Two US bomber at the bottom of the ocean if you are into Scuba Diving. One for our to do list next time.


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Split – Croatia – where to eat / best restaurant: Konoba Matejuška

Following on from our amazing holiday in Pula we quickly booked another holiday back to Croatia to satisfy our hunger for Dalmatian life! This time we planned to visit 3 new areas. Firstly we went to Split, the second-largest city in Croatia. Our apartment was in the old town a stone’s throw away from the Diocletian’s Palace (a Unesco World Heritage site). We had done our research ahead of the trip and knew which bars and restaurants we needed to frequent for our short stay ahead of travelling to Vis.

The number 1 restaurant on TripAdvisor, as well as our favourite, was Konoba Matejuška. Situated off a side street from the main Riva, this unassuming restaurant probably only seats around 20 people. We had emailed and called ahead to book to no avail. On our first day we walked to the restaurant to book ourselves in and found that there was only one table available during our stay late in the evening (they do not check their emails we were informed).

On our arrival we were greeted by a very friendly waiter and ordered the local wine (the wine is usually classed as first rate or second rate, if you go for first rate you are getting a top notch bottle). He then came out with a huge silver plate of fish. You select your fish from the plate and that is what they cook with the fish charged by weight! For our starter we had muscles in a white wine sauce and squid ink risotto. The muscles were cleaned really well and were huge – the biggest muscles I have ever seen and the squid ink risotto was exquisite. We chose a large Sea Bass and a mixed fish plate including Tuna and Shark (with a side salad to add some colour). Our waiter de-boned the white fish at the table which was charming and impressive. The total bill came to 1,109.90kn (for 4).

Another restaurant that is worth noting is Trattoria Bajamont. Although it is not rated in the top 50 restaurants on Trip Advisor (and has some mixed reviews), other bloggers rated it, as did we. The muscles did have a little crunch at times but the sauce they were in was amazing. As we were looking at the menu the waitress came out to cross out all the dishes that had been sold out and we were quick to secure a spaghetti and scampi (king prawns) and a spaghetti and mixed sea food dish. They were both substantial portions and we enjoyed sitting outside the restaurant on a rickety small street in the heart of the old town. The total bill came to 435kn (for 2).

Some other useful notes if you are off to Split: 

  • Bobis: within the Diocletian’s palace there is a  bakery chain called Bobis – great for a cheap light bite.
  • The Basement of the Diocletian’s Palace: For 40kn you can go under the Palace and walk around the impressive basements (also good for GOT fans I am informed)
  • Tour Ticket: you pay 10-20kn to get into the attractions within the center. Rather than paying individually the most cost efficient way is to by a muti-ticket for 45kn which will get you into the Cathedral, Treasury, Crypt, Bell Tower and Baptistery.
  • Rent a bike: Split is really bike-friendly, we would recommend renting a bike and cycling around ‘Marjan’ a hill on the peninsula of the city. It is covered in a dense Mediterranean pine forest and completely surrounded by the city and the sea, making it a unique sight.
  • Froggyland: a fun collection of stuffed frogs in human poses 35.00kn


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‘Seven’ Course Tasting Menu – Typing Room Bethnal Green

Stepping out of Bethnal Green station onto an unassuming crossroads, you would not know that a mini Old Street has formed on Paradise Row and an innovative modern restaurant serving European dishes has appeared in East London’s Town Hall.

My friend recommended visiting Paradise Row’s Mother’s Kelly which boasts 23 taps of beer with massive fridges full of bottled goodies, before heading to Pen and Patriot for a very posh cocktail and smoothly moving on to Typing Room for my anniversary dinner (Pen and Patriot is next to Typing Room). Although named after the building’s original typing room in which all communications from the mayoral, council and judicial system were scribbled, it is a far cry from what I imagine a ‘typing room’ would have looked like. With teal / grey walls, open seating and a bustling kitchen to our right, we sat through a ‘Seven’ Course Tasting Menu’ with accompanying wines.

I will let the pictures below do the talking…


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First Mince Pie 2014

Every year our first Mince Pie needs to be amazing. Any Mince Pie after doesn’t matter – but the first one always needs to be epic (this has become a Christmas tradition). We assumed that we would be on to a winner at the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market – but alas, Germans do not seem to go in for fruit-based-sweet-pies. We set off enthusiastically around Leyton, then on to Walthamstow in search of a local cafe/bakery but it was all to no avail. FINALLY, Patisserie Valerie in Covent Garden came up trumps! 

Best Mince Pie 2014

The sweat, thick, crunchy pastry tasted like shortbread biscuits. The mincemeat was really moist and perfectly balance with the fruit and spices. The pie was stuffed to the brim with Christmas. It was all worth the wait – if you find yourself in Covent Garden – get one!


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Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market and Craft Market

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. Dreams of a short break to a large European Christmas market had been flooding my mind, and although it was November, the Christmas spirit had taken over. A passport renewal threatened to scupper my plans but undefeated, I did some research and discovered a little gem – Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market and Craft Market.

With over 180 stalls, it is the UK’s largest outdoor Christmas Market – and a busy one at that! We arrived in Birmingham at mid-day on Sunday and the streets were already bustling with families and large groups enjoying a Stein or two.

Birmingham festival

The German food stalls lining New Street were very busy, with people patiently queuing (a good 20 people back) to get their hands on a 0.5m German Bratwurst (sausage) in a Brötchen (bread roll). It was worth the wait; we chose to share a grilled Bratwurst, which we smothered in ketchup and mustard. Later that evening we enjoyed a Blooming Onion with garlic sauce. If you ever have the chance to try one, we would recommend that you do – it a thing of beauty! The onion is carved, lightly battered and then deep fat fried so that it opens up like a flower for you to pluck tasty onion morsels from. Yum! We also enjoyed some beer and a Brezel, rotisserie ham baguettes, gluhwein, and mulled cider. We proceeded to sing into the evening with two very jolly Germans entertainers in Victoria Square, dressed like Santa (sort of) singing Christmas tunes with some Abba thrown in for good measure.

Dotted around the food stalls were Craft Stalls selling a good range of items such as Christmas decorations, jewelry, clothes, candles, wood carvings, as well as some more obscure items like lego comic book figures and eco-friendly fire places. The stalls in Victoria Square and Chamberlain Square got a bit repetitive, but we found some nice stalls in Centenary Square such as flowerjewellery.com.

In addition to the crafts and German food stalls, there were also stalls selling locally produced food and drink including real ale (Woods Shropshire Beer), delicious cider courtesy of Orchard Pig Cider, fudge, pork scratchings, as well as homemade chutneys and cheeses (of which we bought everything).

I detail some useful info below. The market is definitely worth a visit – you only need to stay for one night as you will run out of things to do / see / eat. People told us that Saturday was full of debauchery. Sunday was full but pleasant.

Where is it?

The market starts at the Bullring shopping center with stalls along New Street leading to Victoria Square (where the main market is) and Chamberlain Square. We nearly missed Centenary Square, which you can access through Paradise Place shopping mall.

 When?

The event is still on – it started on 13 November and ends on 22 December (open 10:00am – 9:00pm)

 Where should you stay?

We stayed at the Staybridge Suites which are in a great central location. The room felt like a little apartment. We would recommend it.

 Toilets?

Toilets are very scarce! We found some portaloos in Centenary Square and everyone was utilsing the facilities at Weatherspoons in Paradise Place.


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Vienna – Austria – where to eat / best restaurant: Figlmüller Wollzeile

The last leg of our adventure landed us in Vienna – the capital and largest city of Austria. It took us a while to get used to the hustle and bustle of a major city after being in the smaller cities of Salzburg and Graz. Vienna is best explored in the evening when the large tour groups have dispersed and there is room to breathe and take in the stunning architecture.

We had booked ourself into Figlmüller Wollzeile in advance, and it was a good job that we did as they were turning away custom all night. Famous for its Schnitzel, we had been saving ourselves for this sizeable Austrian classic. Even though the restaurant is an obvious tourist trap, it is still quaint and intimate. We orderd a traditional House Schnitzel (pork) with a roast potato gratin and a Chicken Schnitzel with a side salad. The reviews had not lied about size with the House Schnitzel barely contained on its plate and the Chicken Schnitzel consisting of three whole breasts! The Chicken Schnitzel came up trumps with a flavoursome batter and a well seasoned salad with potato, cabbage, carrot and green leaves. We washed it down with  Blauer Zweigelt Classic  2012 a raspberry coloured red wine with good hold that was not too strong or sweet and complimented the meat well.

 Some other useful notes if you are off to Vienna: 

  • Salm Bräu: we were a bit disappointed when we visited this brewery/restaurant. We had read raving reviews about their pork knuckle and beer selection, but rather than feeling like a homely family brewery it was quite commercial and very crowded.
  • Zanoni & Zanoni: for some of the best ice cream ever!
  • Naschmarkt: a vast but somewhat limited market. There are a few restaurants that you can have a sit down meal in, but the majority of the food stalls sell dried fruit and sweats or fruit and veg. You will struggle to find a nice takeaway lunchbox or sandwich.
  • Suite Novotel Wien City: we risked the Secret Hotel on Lastminute.com and found ourselves at the Novotel, it is located ideally next to a main tube and the room was really big and spacious (images online do not do it justice). We would not recommend buying into the breakfast because it is badly managed.