L'avis de Gault&Millau

You will find this modern restaurant with a big terrace on the ground floor of a neoclassical building, at the corner of the street Popa Dukljanina in an eclectic part of Zagreb. Entering the restaurant Noel, your attention is drawn to the top-notch bar, and the long dining room. Filled with warm colours and materials, the end of the dining area is crowned with the chef’s table, overlooking the busy kitchen. The service is professional and without a single fault, from start to finish, with a pace that never leaves the guest unattained. The terrace is enclosed in glass, bringing comfort and calm with a mellow light design, while protecting from the occasional traffic noise. The new executive chef of Noel is Bruno Vokal, a name that will be remembered for bringing the restaurant to a new, enviable level – enriching the concept of modern European cuisine with memorable, modern reinterpretations of traditional Croatian dishes. From the three amuse-bouche, the playful Bao Bun with trout tartare and trout caviar was certainly the cleanest in flavour and texture, as well as in the combination of fresh produce. The biggest surprise of the evening, as well as the most memorable dish, was the reinterpretation of the traditional Štrukle, served in the form of small, soft, yet elastic ravioli, stuffed with creamy fresh cheese, all hiding under a paper-thin sheet of dehydrated milk. Served in a deep plate to hold the most amazing sauce of caramelised cream. This dish holds all the flavours we associate with the classic version, but more concentrated and intense, packed with velvety, seductive aromas of this typical Zagreb meal. Octopus from the island of Vis and the Soparnik (a savoury, thin, chard filled phyllo pie), is another Croatian staple, with a perfectly executed, soft, but slightly oversalted tentacle. We cannot go without mentioning the palate cleanser, wild herbs and pickled green tomatoes, this alone is worth the visit. The evening was marked with the most successful and meaningful variation of the traditional layered pastry Međimurska gibanica. This dessert was faultless. Pralines of young cheese mousse, apples, poppy seeds and white chocolate, with apple foam, and walnuts fermented for three years. This is one of the best examples of a well thought and well prepared desert. In a country with a big number of good restaurants, there is only a few we will remember by the dessert. Noel became one of the memorable ones. The Head Sommelier Ivan Jug has once again managed to put together one of the best wine lists in the city. Alongside the talents of the barman Karlo Ferenčak they give an added value to this fine dining establishment. As the new chef, Bruno Viokal brought the much desired changes to the menu we can probably say that this is the best version of Noel we have ever experienced. One of the finest restaurants in Zagreb deserves a visit. Be sure to make a reservation in advance.

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