Gin Tonic Tuna, Vegan Burger at Lucullus, Hvar’s Most Innovative Menu

Total Croatia News

July 14, 2019 – Gin & Tonic tuna, one of the many highlights on Hvar Town’s most innovative menu at Lucullus.

I get asked a LOT for restaurant recommendations on Hvar. I actually rarely eat out on the island these day, and with so many places opening, I am not really up to date with the latest, but my number one recommendation is always the same. Especially for guests looking for a little variety to the traditional Dalmatian fare. 

It is not the cheapest restaurant, nor the most expensive. There are fancier restaurants on Hvar, and plenty that are not so fancy. There are restaurants in the town with better locations, and there are those with worse locations. 

But for a combination of innovative menu, quality food, service and the overall guest experience, there is only one restaurant that wins – at least in my experience. 



I have known owner Crazy Stipe and his family for years, ever since we met through Total Hvar several years ago. Back then, his concept was more of a party restaurant, and there were theatrics from his excellent staff. It was the first time I had been to a restaurant for dinner with a friend and left feeling I had made friends with the entire restaurant. It was a fantastic experience. 

After taking a short break from Lucullus, Stipe was back last year, with an entirely different concept and cuisine. He became the first restaurant on the island to my knowledge to offer a wide selection of vegan and gluten-free dishes. As I am very fond of my meat, I accepted his invitation to try some of his vegan specialities with a little suspicion, but here is what I experienced last summer. And the vegan burger really WAS that good.  


“I have something new you might like,” Stipe told me a couple of weeks ago when I popped in to say hi. “Gin and tonic tuna. We will start next month. I will call you.”

Gin and tonic tuna?!? At least the lemon could multitask. Had Crazy Stipe gone a little too far this time?

As I was spending the day on Hvar with Alan and Marija, the owners of Secret Dalmatia and Culinary Croatia, I decided to arrange dinner at Lucullus. Alan is a big foodie and very demanding in what he expects – one reason why both Secret Dalmatia and Culinary Croatia are number one in their fields. After years of friendship, I know better than to waste his time on an experience which will be anything but excellent. 

Stipe offered the option of a la carte or to let him choose for us, as he poured a welcome glass of Lucullus-branded fizz.  

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And so to the food, which Stipe introduced lovingly.

Welcome – a little bit different Falafel with sunflower, cashew, hummus and lukewarm vegetable salad. We provide every day a different welcome but always try to serve it vegan. It is different because we add mushroom to the dough and oats to the falafel and we do not serve with yogurt but with hummus made of sunflower seeds and cashew.

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Cold cucumber mint soup – as we already had the gazpacho on the menu and the guests reacted very positively to that. The idea was to have another cold soup but less spicy, so we came to the cucumber soup. Perfect to cool down after a hot day, and it combines a lot of Mediterranean tastes… Cucumber, yogurt, garlic and mint.

Gin and Tonic Tuna… What to say, there has been a lot of hype about Gin and Tonic these last few years, so we had the idea to combine it with something. Scandinavians marinate their salmon with sugar, salt, pepper and herbs to add flavour. And in Hotel Gasthof Post in Lech am Arlberg, where I work in the winter in Austria, I worked two years ago with a chef who tried to combine G&T with salmon, but I didn’t like it (I do not like salmon). I remembered this at the beginning of the season when I was preparing some tuna.


So I tried a few times and now it is balanced how I like it. So we marinate it with brown sugar, pepper salt, juniper, lemon and lemon juice, and gin (we decided that it tasted the best with Tanqueray). The tuna is served on a bed cucumber lemon cream. (You can hear Stipe introduce it in the short video above. It was gorgeous, light and balanced, and the pepper gave it the perfect finish. I thought the dish might be a gimmick, but it was excellent).

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(Stipe brought us three main courses to share)

Wild Boar with lavender gnocchi – our classic back in 2011 when i put it on the menu for the first time. Everybody told me not to do it as nobody will eat boar in the summer.

Since then it has always been on the menu and it was always very popular. And now you have in Hvar a few places to eat Boar. The idea was to have a plate connected to the island but not a fish dish. So we came to boar which is a traditional dish on Hvar.

We braise it in plavac mali, the island red wine grape and make some lavender gnocchi. If they can add lavender to ice cream, why not to gnocchi. So it is a whole island story. Boar from Zastrazisce, plavac mali from Jelsa (Tomic), potatoes from Brusje, lavander from Velo Grablje, just the guy cooking it is from Vrgorac. 

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The vegan burger. I love meat but when I first tried this burger last year from our vegan chef, Luna, I was stunned. So I kept the burger even after Luna left our team. I changed a bit the recipe (sorry Luna) so now I like it even more.

The pattie is made of red beans, mushroom, carrot, onion and garlic, for the sauce we use again sunflower, cashew and hummus but with herbs on the pattie there is a marmalade of red onions the bun is made with turmeric.

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Chicken curry – my opinion is that I seldom had a nice looking and tasty chicken dish in a restaurant. Either it was tasty but not nice to see, or nice to see but not tasty. So we worked on it. I didn’t want a classic Indian curry because in my opinion it is too heavy and also I didn’t know where to buy proper curry paste. Thai curry is definitely too hot. So I played a bit with the spices and now I like it. It is chicken, vegetables, coconut milk, juice of peaches, and curry powder. To spice it up a little we have a home-made sauce of hot yellow chili peppers.

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Lemon tart – the idea was to have a refreshing and light vegan dessert not too sweet. So I came to the Lemon tart which is raw and vegan… All you need is almond dried cranberry for the bottom and the cream is lemon, cashew, coconut oil and dried cranberry. 

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Vegan chocolate mousse – rice, coconut milk, sugar, coconut oil, cashew and fresh ground cacao nuts. No refined sugar, just a nice and light chocolate mousse.

So how was it for the team from Secret Dalmatia and Culinary Croatia?

“One of the best summer meals one can have on the Adriatic coast. Highly recommended to our clients for ambiance, service but – most of all – incredible food.”

Fantastic flavours and interesting combinations. Two words were on all our lips as we walked through the town after the meal – light and balanced. The flavours blended really well, and although we were full, it felt light, in the same way one does after a good sushi meal. 

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There is one more detail to add. Lucullus is very much a family restaurant, and two of Stipe’s kids are working with him. Ivana is outstanding as front of house, and Marino makes a quality gin and tonic for such a young man. A true family restaurant trying to offer the best possible food, service and ambiance to their guests. 

They succeed on all three counts. 

Lucullus is located just off the main square, on the first adjacent street to the right as you enter the square past the cathedral. 

You can follow them on Facebook

Gin and tonic will never be the same again. 




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