ab ovo bistro in zagreb is a breath of fresh air

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It’s clear that this restaurant, from the art decor to the eclectic bar upon entering, is going to be memorable. Located east of the center of Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, across from the Maksimir forest park, is the Quartet’s social epicenter. Unusual decorative details dominate the energizing space – where distorted images of figures are featured on interior and exterior walls.  They’ve managed to create a space that is attractive to the passerby and even establish a space where the guests can feel comfortable and relaxed.

Ab Ovo translating from the Latin “from the egg’ implies a new beginning. This is the very concept which the bistro centers on – every day a completely new menu is comprised with fresh, seasonal and local ingredients.  A clever and concise selection from the menu, alongside some focused interaction with the waiter gives a stronger and more realistic feel of a fine dining experience. We begin by ordering an appetizer – Smoked Adriatic Tuna. The salty smoked tuna is well crafted with cream of coconut, avocado cream, cucumber juice gel, and bloody mary gel. You wouldn’t expect these unusual flavours to mesh, but I’m surprised to find myself enjoying the mouthful of flavors and textures comprised in this dish. If anything, this Smoked Adriatic Tuna is virtually refreshing and light which is choice since we intend to further indulge in the main dishes and dessert. 

For the mains, I am pleased with my choice of the Wild Adriatic Sea Bass Fillet. A beautifully grilled sea bass is poached in a black truffle butter and served with a smooth potato cream,sauteed assortment of zucchini, eggplant and red peppers and a foam of lemon verbena.  Though a small portion, the richness leaves me satisfied and I gingerly leave a little uneaten to save some space for the beefsteak.

The Beefsteak is definitely the highlight of the meal. When asked how I would like it cooked, I ask to prepare it medium-rare, though I am wary since I typically receive meat which is more overcooked than what is internationally recognized as medium-rare. What arrives is perfectly executed medium-rare cooked meat served with pumpkin mousse, cream of beetroot, cream of green pea, red sweet and hot peppers coulis, a beef reduction, on a young green salad. All of the flavors and textures pair exquisitely – the red sweet and hot peppers coulis is spicy which adds a wonderful touch to the dish.

Considering the dishes served were of a smaller portion, we have lots of space for something sweet. The waiter suggests the Peach Tart and the Chocolate Creme Brulee. The dessert, quite aptly, presents an elaborate arrangement – full-bodied chocolate creme brulee served on an almond, chocolate and salt flower crumble with Istrian olive oil, a chocolate and specialty coffee ganache, raspberry jam and chocolate ice cream. The filling of the creme brulee is rich and sweet . The interplay of sweet, sour and salty is delicate yet lavish. This dessert is very intense we had to order macchiatos to wash it down.

The second dessert completely opposes the first- roasted peaches sits on a crispy pastry and is topped with vanilla creme anglaise and a homemade basil ice cream. All of the distinct flavors in this dish sublimely play in your mouth, from the rich roasted peaches to the sweet vanilla creme and aromatic basil.

At 225 kunas per person, based on three courses each for food only, Ab Ovo Bistro is affordably priced. The ambiance is fashionable yet comfortable, which matches the simple and delicious food. Overall, both the food and service exceeded my expectations.

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