Gostionica-Restoran Purger was the very first restaurant we set foot into when we arrive in Zagreb. After a long flight from Singapore, the restaurant was selected because it was just a convenient 4 minutes walk away from the Palace Hotel Zagreb which would be our base for exploring the capital. In case you were wondering about the name ‘Purger’ is local slang for an individual born and raised in Zagreb.
There is nothing fancy about Gostionica-Restoran Purger interiors except for the Christmas decorations. It is a very casual local food place that serves traditional Croatian cruise and we were surrounded by locals all having a great time – a true sign that a restaurant is doing something right. In fact, we were the only Asians in the restaurant. Before diving into the menu, we got ourselves a bottle of local beer to relax our senses and ease our mood for a nice meal.
Gostionica-Restoran Purger – Savouring Local Favourites
We were forewarned by travel vlogs that portions in Croatia are huge. Keeping that in mind, we kept to one main dish each with a small hot side for sharing. True enough, our Roasted Veal came with a generous portion of mashed potatoes and vegetables on the side. The meat was tender and flavourful but that was not enough to make it the star of the show.
Our favourite dish is Sarma which is rolled sauerkraut leaves stuffed with minced meat. Sarma has been traditionally a winter dish of Croatia and the Balkans. Although it is considered a national dish in Croatia as well as in Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia, its historical roots come from the Ottoman Empire, all the way back in the 16th century.
Being someone who adores strong flavours, I fell in love with Sarma from the first bite. It is not hard to understand why this is one of their favourite comfort food in winter. The stew warms you up and the inviting sour taste stimulates your taste buds for meals. By the way, it was not easy to find another place that serves good Sarma after we left Zagreb.
Breaded Cheese With Tartar Sauce was our shared hot side. We are not exactly sure if this was a traditional local dish but it tasted awesome. It is really hard to go wrong with deep-fried cheese but you do need to enjoy the dish fast while it is still hot.
Although Gostionica-Restoran Purger was chosen for its close proximity to our hotel, we were glad to dine here for our very first meal in Zagreb. The restaurant offers a good introduction to the local way of life and a tasty glimpse into their culinary culture. If you are keen to savour traditional local favourites, here are the full details: