Touristy Seafood Dinner at Stara Oljka in Portorož

…And the place to do the Overpriced Seafood Tourist Shuffle in Portorož is on Obala. We chose Stara Oljka. The restaurant is on the beach and a few steps leads to water, yet this is a place to put your shirt and shorts on for. Wet bikinis and sandy bare feet are not part of the dress-code. A gorgeous terrace is accented with a line of potted olive trees that twist and turn and look natural on a Mediterranean beach. The dining room inside is a bit more of a tavern, with long tables to accomodate groups of travelers or families celebrating a special occasion. The wine list is pretty sparse, with only 3 local wineries represented. Two of these mass produce and their wines are nothing special. When I ordered one that they were out of our server brought out another, which ended up being quite memorable in that it was one of the most unpleasant wines I’ve ever tasted.

11We ordered the stuffed squid prepared in what the menu specified was a “Trieste style”. I’m really not sure what this means because my research lead to not one recipe for a squid dish typical to Trieste, especially one that involved ham and cheese as a filling. The squid themselves were tender with a nice caramelization from the grill, but the stuffing was bland in flavor and a bit too salty. Some garlicky sauce was drizzled over the top. Nothing to write home about.

9Scampi, of course, also made an appearance. There were some grilled on a platter with a grilled sea bass and some calamari. The prawns were smoky and good, though a little dry without a sauce. The fish was quite tender and fresh as were all grilled fish we found in Slovenia. Some parsley flavored cooked potatoes were served on the side.

10Scampi also appeared alla Busara, which means soaked in a sauce made with white wine and thickened with bread crumbs. This is a messy dish, fun to eat but frustrating at the same time. Pulling tiny bits of flesh out of claws and abdomen is strenuous work already. When sloppy, sticky sauce and sharp little bits of claw are involved it’s an even greater hassle. But there are two great joys that make this dish worth it – snapping the tail in half to pull the tail meat out whole and sucking the sauce seasoned brains out of the head. The sauce is great for sopping up with fluffy bread of which plenty is provided for this exact purpose.

This is not the type of restaurant I enjoy, but the experience is one I understand to be crucial to tired, overworked folks who just want to chill on the beach and pay a lot for something impressively presented. And for that Stara Oljka is the place to go.

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