Unlike most Montenegrins, where Restaurant Jadran was concerned, I was something of a late bloomer. My first interaction with this legendary Montenegrin culinary gem occurred in 2012 when I visited purely by luck. There was a majestic thunderstorm pouring in old town Kotor, and given that I had an appointment in Sveti Stefan later that afternoon, my friend Lenka suggested Jadran as it was halfway down the coastline conveniently located right next to the old town of Budva.
We set out in Lenka’s car on a slow drive which was constantly interrupted by the monotonous and endless rain and the coastal traffic jam which it produced. Incredibly enough, just as we backed into the municipal parking lot in old Budva, the pelting rain slowed until it stopped altogether, creating a lifting of the clouds and the first majestic rays of the afternoon sun. It was destiny.
Upon arrival at Jadran, I was immediately struck by the interior motifs which comprised an eclectic mix of Route 66 meets Harley Davidson meets Coca-Cola and Alphonse Mucha classic prints. It gave the entire place a very welcome and relaxed feel, and I could understand why it was (and still is) one of the premier choices by locals and foreigners alike. The restaurant's classic look and feel resembled a high-end diner while the dishes – especially the seafood - were recommended by just about everyone in Dubrovnik whom I had asked. One of my cousins on the island of Korcula (a seafood restaurant owner herself) had highly recommended the establishment because the owner, Krsto Niklanović, in addition to being a friend of her husband’s, was also something of a local legend - it was not hard to understand why. I met Krsto briefly and immediately liked him. He was in his early 60’s but had the energy, enthusiasm and humor of someone much younger and an appreciation for the small things in life (in addition to motorcycles, hence the Harley Davidson memorabilia). Krsto informed me that the restaurant benefits tremendously from the loving and tender culinary hand of his mother Vidosava, who still cooks from morning till dusk for Jadran’s many domestic and foreign guests.
Catering to couples, families and larger groups, Jadran occupies one of the most enviable positions on the coastline and is an easy walking distance from the old town of Budva, located on a long stone promenade overlooking the sea. There is indoor and outdoor seating, but in the hot summer evenings, the patio fills up quickly given its proximity to the water and the exceptional views. Recommendations are preferred for large groups, and on the afternoon I first visited it, the patio was completely packed with a wedding party.
Everything on the menu is exquisite, but I would most highly recommend the seafood. It’s caught local and fresh every day and includes a wide array of shellfish as well as sea bass, prawns and lobster served in the traditional style of the Adriatic coast ‘na buzari’ (which literally means ‘stew’). I dined on grilled sablefish caught fresh from the sea that very day and a side portion of steamed Adriatic mussels cooked simply in white wine and garnished with garlic, parsley and sea salt. Heaven never tasted so good. I sipped on a dry red Vranac wine (a local variety) and left completely enthralled with a promise to return, something I have done every single year since then. If you’re looking for a restaurant which comes highly recommended by locals and tour books alike, Jadran is your best bet and truly never disappoints.