Restaurant of the Day: Giaxa in Hvar Town
At the beginning of last year, as I was researching material for the first edition of the Hvar guidebook, I sought out the opinion of an English guy who is a long-term resident of Hvar Town. He was very helpful, and I was particularly interested in his restaurant recommendations.
"Giaxa," he answered without hesitation. "It just had that something extra, that little bit of class."
The association of Giaxa and class is something I have come across a lot when talking to people. The setting is superb, with choices of stone arched interior, street dining or the fantastic outside terrace area; the food is superb, matched by an outstanding wine list and excellent service.
It was the scene of the wine-tasting of my life earlier this year, as I gate-crashed an exclusive event for Hvar's restauranteurs, moving from Barolo to Chablis Grand Cru via vintage Champagne (read more about THAT day here). And as good as the wines were, it is the service, the ambiance which stay with me from that day. What was it? That word again - class.
Giaxa is consistently in Hvar's top five restaurants on TripAdvisor, and if recent comments are anything to go by, it will be there for a long time to come. Here is a sample from the last few weeks, to give you an idea of Giaxa 2012:
"This restaurant is a real find. The food was absolutely outstanding and the wine was as well. Dinner and wine for four people with tip was $130. The interior was beautifully decorated, air conditioned, the service excellent. The best restaurant of all that we tried in Croatia. July 12."
"This place is absolutely phenomenal. We ate family style so I tried the lamb, chicken, sea bass, lobster and filet mignon. I'd recommend the mac n cheese to start (with homemade gnocci) and the lobster and filet. The swordfish carpaccio was also delicious. Although truly everything here was fantastic. The service was impeccable as well. The place was busy, but once you realize how good the food it, it's understandable. The ambiance is fabulous (it seems like you're in a castle) and the bar is great as well. I've been back in the states for a week and I want to fly back to Hvar to go back to Giaxa. Highly recommend. July 10"
"Wonderful setting, fantastic menu and great service.
Don't really need to say anymore - it's a must if you are visiting Hvar. June 28"
"We were on a walking tour of Hvar when we passed by Giaxa. Its located in an alley off the main plaza. No ocean view, but the place looked completely different -- more "classy" and "refined" than the rest of the restaurants we had walked by in the harbor and plaza area: there are some tables out in the alley, but most of the tables are inside the walls of the restaurant with no roof covering them. On an impulse, we made reservations for dinner for 9 people. What a find! While we were waiting to be seated, I talked with another couple who pointed out that Giaxa was #3 on TripAdvisor. Well, it should be #1! Our waiter, Mlavin, was fantastic: perfect English and very charming. Plus, he seemed to know everything about each wine on the wine list, even talking me out of a more expensive wine for one he said was better -- and he was right. We started with a bottle of proseco and they brought a small square of a sandwich with a tasty spread and a shot glass of spicy tomato juice to go with it. The bread basket had the best and most interesting breads we've come across in Croatia. For starter, we had the mixed starter plate which had a bit of everything: oysters, octopus, john dory in a tomato sauce, swordfish carpachio, and shark with a bit of a sweet sauce. For the main, we shared a huge john dory and some lobsters -- both fresh from the Adriatic (the lobsters were still moving around when brought out for display) grilled simply, but perfectly -- and several side dishes of vegetables and potatoes with garlic. Desert was an interesting mix: a chocolate souffle cake, a "cake from Split" (which looked like a carrot cake, but was actually made with figs instead) and a special chocolate sphere that dissolved when a berry sauce was poured on it. We had a mix of desert wines to chose from, again with expert advice and commentary from our waiter. All in all an exceptional dining experience we won't soon forget. June 25."