The name Lucullus has ties in legends to luxury and gourmet, which in essence, sums up Lucullus restaurant in Hvar.
Now, I cannot begin to speak about the restaurant Lucullus, before I speak a little about the name. As most should know by now, the history of Croatia is very much interwoven with the Greek and Roman era, remains of both cultures being scattered along Coastal Croatia. Diocletian’s Palace stands proudly as a testament to a Roman Empire long-gone and the Stari Grad Plain on Hvar, now a protected UNESCO Heritage site, tells a story of the lives, organisation and sophistication of a civilization that almost seems mythical now.
Then, along with standing monuments or discovered treasures, there are the legends, enter – Lucullus.
Lucullus was an Optimate, or today we would call him a Senator, from the 1st Century BC (or in fact last century BC). He was known for many things, but the story I am focusing on today is his fame in banqueting, so much so, that the word ‘lucullun’ now stands for lavish, luxurious and gourmet. There are two stories, one depicts how Cicero and Pompey were curious to see how Lucullus dined when he was alone. So, before their arrival, they forbade Lucullus from telling his servants he would have company, but Lucullus outsmarted them and merely mentioned the room he would be dining in to his servants – as they well understood that each room represented the style of dining and service. So, when Cicero and Pompey entered they found themselves in the midst of a most luxurious feast.
The second tells how, on another occasion, the servant heard that Lucullus would be dining alone so prepared only one course; Lucullus scolded him saying ‘did you not know that today, Lucullus dines with Lucullus?’
Following on from this short history lesson, it seems only fitting that Lucullus Restaurant in Hvar is named so. A feast, or dining should be a luxurious experience, whether you are dining alone, or in the company of friends or a large group. That, is exactly how I felt the first time I went to Lucullus. I did, in fact go by myself and was greeted by the hostess and staff just as warmly as if I had brought a whole army of diners with me.
Lucullus lies under the gorgeous boutique hotel – Villa Nora and is one of those restaurants that you would perhaps, easily walk by, as a glimpse into the courtyard is all that is offered from the street view. Stepping inside, you will be taken by the elegant, yet simple setting as the restaurant relies on the beautiful stonework and architecture from the original palace which was built in the 14th Century.
Anthony Jurica took over the restaurant a year ago and changed the direction to be more in-line with the name Lucullus; while previously the restaurant offered great quality food with the best local produce, Jurica has introduced a touch of luxury in the menu and service, that no doubt, would have pleased Lucullus himself.
On the menu, you can find beautiful dishes such as beef tartare, ceviche, chargrilled octopus or for pure decadence you can order lobster with foie gras.
For mains, they do not venture too far from the classical gastronomic path, but every dish is presented beautifully and executed to perfection; from their salmon to their black angus or seared blue fin tuna.
Many restaurants in Croatia have fallen victim to ‘wanting to please’ every tourist, hence the majority of restaurants offer everything – chicken, steak, seafood, pizza, pasta, burger – you can easily find ALL of these items on one menu card. Lucullus on the other hand, offer a menu that can please any gastronomer, but they have not bowed to the pressure of ‘needing to be everything, to please everyone’ and I have only respect for restaurants who stay true to their vision. I also appreciate a restaurant who remains elegant in its simplicity; the setting is nothing overstated – light linens, white plates or black slate… I will always love industrial looks, or following the latest trends, but there is something to be said for the restaurants who stick to ‘less is best’ and pull off a ‘classic’ look (trust me, easier said than done).
The staff are wonderfully attentive and, as the restaurant is off the main path, it has a relaxed, luxurious setting that is not compromised, by the rowdier tourists that Hvar is becoming infamous for. After years in the hospitality industry myself, I easily place Lucullus among some of the top Hvar restaurants like Passarola, Gariful and DiVino (without the price tag of some of them).
Do yourself a favour, if you are in Hvar, spend an evening dining like royalty and opt for a ‘Lucullun feast’ at Lucullus, you can thank me later.
To see more by Lucullus or for bookings and inquiries, vist their Facebook Page here.