I’m one of those insufferable hyper-planners who gets an embarrassingly satisfying buzz from mapping out a fresh new holiday itinerary – particularly when it comes to where, when and what we’ll be eating.
My Google Drive is full of them. I even keep them afterwards, you know, just in case. I just can’t help myself and my recent sojourn to the city of Split in Croatia was another chance for me to indulge in some meticulous organisation.
That said, pigs can sometimes be seen flying across the sky and a slight chill whips through Hell I’ve heard because occasionally we… dare I say it… go rouge and stray from the plan! This happened when we stumbled across beautiful little BEPA in Old Town Split…
We actually ended up here after hunting down No Stress Bistro which had been recommended to me before our travels.
We located No Stress, in Pjaca Square, underneath the Old Town’s 15th Century clock but had our heads turned by the beautiful, bright pink blooms climbing the walls over the cobbles at BEPA.
Looking closer, we were completely seduced by the uber cool uniforms, eclectic crockery, retro napkins and contemporary tavern aesthetic – hence the spur of the moment change of plan.
So, yeah, BEPA might not have been on the pre-approved agenda but it was a little spark of serendipity that I’m chuffed fluttered into our path.
I mean, I was always going to be on board with somewhere whose motto is: First we eat, then we do everything else because well, ditto.
Speaking of all things spontaneous and rule-breaking, I decided to F all the rules when we nestled into our table for two by ordering a big old slice of Blueberry Pie (45 kuna/£6 ish) at 1 o’clock in the afternoon.
I have this vivid memory of one of the older kids in primary school grassing me and my friend up for eating our sponge cake before our sausage & chips at lunchtime because “YOU CAN’T EAT PUDDING FIRST” (apparently) so this one goes out to him.
I dedicate the glorious slab of warm, golden pastry stuffed with sweet, sticky blueberries that came served with a scoop of smooth vanilla ice cream to him because I do not regret a single thing.
Take that, Michael Phillips.
My other half kept things more civilised by going for the Brudet (129 Kuna/£16 ish) which was a fillet of white skin-on fish on a bed of polenta in an ‘aromatic red sauce’ and I can vouch for it being absolutely delicious.
It was perhaps verging on the more expensive side considering the portion size but the Mediterranean flavours were immense and the quality of the fish was quite clearly on a premium level so fair play.
I’m not entirely sure where blueberry pie fits into the equation but my research tells me that all of the food at BEPA takes inspiration from authentic Mediterranean recipes that would be found in family kitchens throughout the region.
Part of the BEPA philosophy includes a love for short menus which are easy to read and enable chefs at the helm to put freshness and finesse at the forefront of priority. A nice concept, I thought.
The menu changes seasonally but always includes plenty of choice for vegetarians, vegans and gluten-dodgers amongst the mainstream meat-eaters and fish-lovers.
If that wasn’t enough to win you over, they have an entire section of all-day breakfast recipes and sweet treats so you too can F the rules and have dessert for dinner.
Pick from a selection of hot and cold appetisers, pastas, risottos, mains and ‘Big Salads’, including a nutritious superfood Buddha Bowl (99 kuna/ £13 ish) which they recommend pairing with a John Lemon beer.
All (or at least most) of the dishes on the BEPA food menu come with a beer and wine recommendation which is the kind of little touch that earns somewhere a place on my Best Bites edits.
Continuing on with the theme of the afternoon, I decided to completely betray this advice in favour of one of their famous homemade lemonades. A Strawberry Lemonade (25 kuna/ £3 ish) laced with lemon juice, strawberry puree, honey and fresh mint to be precise.
The homemade lemonade list is part and parcel of BEPA’s plight to serve more clean options with no additives or bad stuff in ‘em. Hence the use of honey as a natural sweetener and I’m here for that.
Whole ingredients and a general cull of crap from my diet is something I’m really into of late so this was right up my alley.
My other half decided to try one of the regional beers on the menu of locally sourced beverages and chose a light beer brewed in Split and slurped the bottle bone dry.
If you prefer the grape to the grain though, there is also a selection of Croatian wines to tickle your fancy.
That’s one of the things I loved most about BEPA – the same thing I love about many of my favourite bars and eateries in my hometown – how it champions its local produce.
It’s nice to see that hospitality with a conscience is an international concept and even more of a bonus when it tastes this good too.
BEPA, I’ll be back!