Gastronomic monologue in 36 squares

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People are amazed when twenty of them come to the terrace from different boats, sit down, no one orders anything, everyone eats equally and no one wonders what they are eating. And then they wonder and say that they never sat in a restaurant where they didn’t order anything, where everyone ate equally and that everyone was oversatisfied.

Just as you are free to let Marko Prižmić choose dishes, it is best to do the same – in the story. Only then will the experience be complete, and you will take advantage of everything from the unofficial menu…

The restaurant was opened quite by accident, I retired young and then, according to my ideas, slowly built a restaurant, not for a big crowd and not for a lot of people – our small 36 square meters. In the beginning, it was difficult because we did not give dishes that were common in restaurants, both on Šipan, and in Dubrovnik and the surrounding area. From the beginning, we offered our dishes and our recipes.

People are amazed when twenty of them come to the terrace from different boats, sit down, no one orders anything, everyone eats equally and no one wonders what they are eating. And then they wonder and say that they never sat in a restaurant where they didn’t order anything, where everyone ate equally and that everyone was oversatisfied. This is exactly the concept of the restaurant. Exceptions are only if someone warns us that he is allergic to octopus or will not eat fish, everything else is in my hands, everything else I personally serve, prepare and give. It has advantages and disadvantages because if guests ordered from the menu what they get for dinner, it would cost them much more. The advantage is that you can express yourself, that is, give what you think you have the best that day, the advantage is that you do not waste time on orders, the advantage is that there are no things that you will not sell or place. However, when you take it all on yourself, then you can’t tell the guest that he ate the lobster and charge him $ 500. You have to move within the limits to make it pay off, for the guest to be satisfied and for everything to go well. By the way, you get out of his hand – I would do this, I would do that. For example, if he ran into me in those two square meters of the kitchen, then it’s over! But we throw out 20-40 dinners with 4-5 appetizers, and that’s already two hundred people. Today is the time when guests cannot come without a reservation, they call fifteen days in advance.

I have my regular guests, sixty percent of the guests keep coming back, and they say to themselves: Marko, it’s time to raise prices. Although I haven’t touched my prices for 6-7 years, we are satisfied, the guests are satisfied, the book of impressions is full. From crowned heads, Carolina from Monaco to our Mesic, other presidents, Italian counts …

A good comparison with us would be today’s gastronomy of Vis, where people came back and tried to pull out some old dishes, which they interpreted in a new way. There really are a few people out there who are fantastic. We do the same. This potpourri of mine, for example, is unique. My father was a fisherman and he had a kogoj (it’s a small net, like a koča) and he would pull that koča for an hour and a half and catch 5-6 kilos of everything. And it was boiled, fried or stewed. It’s a potpourri that I make today. I didn’t invent anything, everything is inherited. This octopus meatball, it’s a dish that a Sipan family gave me a recipe for, and I may have added something of my own and that’s it.

We hope that home-grown food will not continue to be a problem for us. What we drink is Sipan merlot. I have leased the entire production and I am worried that it will not fail. As for fish, we only buy it on Šipan, as well as most vegetables. The seed may not be native, but the difference is as soon as it grows here. True, tomatoes before, it smelled like a soul …

Small restaurants need to be constantly improved, even if they think it’s best, it can always be even better. And they need to invent dishes, add something…

For example, I have a lamb chop from the meat, but when the lamb disappears, there is no more meat, almost. We also have a steak that is great – and those are the two meats I make. Possibly some veal if some child comes, but the meat is not my first.

And we have everything from fish. I was the first in Dubrovnik to bake fish in salt, when I ran the marina, and that was in ’78. Now I see everyone baking. Not me.

When I ran the Plat Tavern (1967-78), people waited in cars in the middle of winter to enter the tavern, not to mention in the summer. It was a Dubrovnik restaurant to remember.

What we do today, this Dalmatian cuisine – there is not much invention. Everything is food based. What are we going to say now that we made some fillets like this or carpaccie like that when we didn’t. We have never eaten raw fish in Dalmatia even though I love to eat it.

What they do on Vis – salted anchovies, marinated, that’s fine. This is what I give and it has always been eaten in Dalmatia and will be eaten while there are anchovies and sardines. In our country, everything dried up. In my youth, octopus was also dried because there was no refrigerator and I can tell you that next year we will include a new dish of dried octopus. It was made in such a way that the legs were torn thinly, the onion was fried, it was thrown on that onion and then it was drizzled with egg. It’s been eaten like that before.

Yes, a short season is a big problem. And I hear that these marinas of ours are constantly raising prices. And that many will leave Croatia. Despite having a small marina here. Now look at the Kornati, they are full, they are already working like in the middle of the season. And here our season is two and a half months.

And all this else is like what you see today. Maybe the ship comes, and maybe it doesn’t. So when you have a booking book, you know when and how many guests you have. That’s how you’ll prepare. Otherwise, ten people come to you at once and what are you going to do?

It would be good if the season was extended, but I think that there is no cooperation between the Tourist Board, the Ministry of Tourism, hoteliers, everyone runs their own policy, and no one runs the price policy – prices rise 30-40 percent from year to year and they think it’s just like that.

Spoken in the breath, with octopus and shrimp meatballs, Mark’s words receive a calm confirmation from his successor, son Gin: We will continue like this, we will not expand, we will not introduce anything new, we will continue like this. We will continue to procure groceries on Šipan, from fish, vegetables, wine…

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Italians, for example, can never understand that they will eat something in a restaurant that they will not order themselves. They try, they want to see the fish, and I ask – why? Well, to see her. I ask him: And what will you do when you see her? So, he seems to see her. I answer: when you come to a posh restaurant, are you looking to see the fish? No, he says. Well you eat at a posh restaurant, I say. After all, I can show you the fish, but are you sure the one in the posh restaurant would serve you the fish he showed you? He gives you what he wants, and that’s not the case with me. They insist they would see the fish anyway. But I don’t give it anyway, but when I go to the oven, I show it to him along the way – here, you will eat this!

And I did not succumb to what is said in the City that one cannot sit at Mark’s without making a reservation, let him! I think I would have failed to do otherwise. Because, 5-6 thousand people walk around the City and every hundredth sit in a restaurant, but they never come back. And we don’t have those who walk, but 5-10 yachts enter the Port and you can hope in vain that some of those five crews will come by. If someone didn’t tell him or if he didn’t read, and I don’t think there is a nautical magazine in Europe that didn’t mention our restaurant – from England, Germany, Poland, Sweden, the Czech Republic… And that’s the huge difference between me and Dubrovnik. Their guests come alone, and I would like that when the guest leaves, he is convinced that it was his best dinner on the Adriatic! I am left with the pleasure of creating what is on the menu that day.

An Englishman comes to me and when he hears that he has lamb, he says: do you have mint sauce? I say: I have, but I do not give it. So how, I only eat with him, he says. I say, you eat lamb with it, but in me it is not eaten. He says he won’t eat then. I say, well, I’ll bring it to you so you try it. And when he tastes that lamb (without mint sauce), he is surprised. He did not know that there was such a lamb in life.

  • Autor: ALBERT DONSKY
  • Photos: DAMIR FABIJANIĆ
  • Source: Iće & piće
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