For traditional Dalmatian food with a mercurial twist, there are few better places than Giaxa, a relatively new venture from the team responsible for the highly-regarded Luna, a few doors down the same alley. Transforming local dishes with a touch of contemporary invention is Giaxa’s main strength. Creativity runs through the whole menu, and it’s a good idea to come sufficiently hungry to work your way through a full three-course meal. Signature dishes include a grilled octopus salad flavoured with pine nuts and peppercorns; while the pršut-stuffed gnocchi in asparagus sauce represent the perfect marriage between tradition and invention. Mains feature poached sea-bass stuffed with scampi and wild herbs; and lobster in tomato and white wine sauce. The gregada or Hvar fish stew is served the traditional way with juicy bones-and-all hunks of fresh fish. The delectable desserts run from chocolate mousse to the divine, melt-in-the-mouth Split cake made from nuts, sponge cake and dried fruit. In summer, look out for the daily three-course tasting menus, which make best use of what’s fresh and seasonal. Giaxa also bake their own bread. 'It’s good to feel a bit of hard manual labour in the food you eat,' says owner Tomislav Rudan. The setting is as splendid as the food, a fifteenth-century gothic palace that once belonged to the Jakša family – of which Giaxa is a Venetian-dialect rendition. A trio of stone columns run down the centre of the dining room, overlooked by brightly coloured wooden animal sculptures courtesy of local artist Darko Šoša. Šoša is also responsible for the tubular metal light features that hover enigmatically over the courtyard. Quality wine is served by the glass as well as the bottle, so you get the chance to sample the island’s best tipples, course-by-course.
Petra Hektorovića 3, Groda
|Opening hours:||Apr-Nov noon-midnight daily|