Ask any of the locals in Split. Fife (FEE-fay) is the quintessential konoba in Dalmatia’s largest city. The word konoba means ‘cellar’ in Dalmatian dialect, and since many small taverns began operating in family wine cellars, the term is used also to refer to casual dining and drinking establishments where traditional home cooking is all you’ll find. At Fife, you’ll find the requisite assortment of expertly grilled fish, meat and sausages along with a vast array of saucy braised meats, pastas, risottos, vegetables and sides. Order the traditional Dalmatian pot roast known as pašticada (pahsh-tee-TSAH-dah) with a side of potato gnocchi. You won’t be able to stop thinking about it for a week. If you have room for dessert there’s a variety of filled palačinke (pah-lah-CHEEN-keh, meaning ‘pancakes’) and a daily torte available.
All in all, the focus is on fresh ingredients prepared simply and traditionally, and Fife’s prices can’t be beat. For these reasons and others, it’s a unanimous favorite with families and senior Dalmatians in Split. Seating on the small terrace is accented by soft breezes that rattle nearby palms and carry whiffs of rosemary and lavender from the promenade. The sound of a busy Dalmatian harbor in late afternoon is all the music needed to complete the atmosphere, but if you opt to sit inside you’ll be serenaded by songbirds in hanging cages.
Located at the north end of the promenade in Split, Fife often does a brisk business during the high season. The waiters sometimes look as if they’re about to lose their minds (it’s part of the place’s charm), but food always arrives swiftly, without a hitch and served with a smile. The dress code is whatever you’re wearing, portions are generous, prices are reasonable, and reservations are hardly required. A short list of soft drinks, beers and Croatian wines is a more than adequate selection of liquid accompaniment.
Buffet Fife – Trumbićeva obala 11, Split
tel: +385 (0)21 345 233
About the writer:
John J. Goddard is an independent writer and veteran culinary professional. He has lived in Zagreb and on the Dalmatian coast, and travelled extensively throughout the republic. John is currently at work on a Dalmatian cookbook and a non-fictional account of his experiences as an expatriate chef in Croatia. He publishes DalmatianCooking.com and a few other blogs.