PROFILED BY DE GROOTS MEDIA
Canberra may not have any beaches, sand or surf, but it does have Maestral, a family-owned and run restaurant that has been providing sea-starved locals with seafood for years. Maestral serves a blend of simple “surf and turf” and traditional Croatian dishes, drawing on the family’s heritage and the rich traditions of Adriatic seafood cuisine. This reflects Croatia’s unique location, and the food has influences from Europe as well as the Middle East. The interior of the restaurant is even modelled on a Croatian seafood shack! Thankfully, though, there are no over-flowing aquariums filled with depressed lobsters and the like.
Start with a simple bouillabaisse or goulash soup, with their strong, smoky flavours and heavy spices. The entrees are mostly simple dishes such as prawn cocktails, garlic prawns, Spanish paella or – if you’re not in the mood for seafood – a generous antipasto platter overflowing with smoked and cured meats, cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and smoked trout. The standout entrees are the fried baby calamari and the stuffed avocado – filled to the brim with smoked trout, smoked salmon and sauce. From here, you can order steak with your choice of seafood – prawns, oysters or calamari. For those wishing to sample some of Maestral’s famous Croatian dishes, you will not be disappointed by the pljeskavica – veal and pork mince patties stuffed with fetta. Or go all out and order one of the monstrously big Adriatic seafood platters, featuring char-grilled fish fillets, prawns, baby calamari, oysters and a whole lobster mornay. These fantastic seafood dishes, combined with the cooking traditions of Croatia, make dining at Maestral a very enjoyable experience.