Striving for Perfection

Striving for Perfection

 

On a recent visit to Dubrovnik, Jill and I chanced upon a fish restaurant in the Old Port area – Riblji Restoran Proto. It was a serendipitous experience.

Established in 1886, it is now owned by Mato Durovic, who has been a major influence in the hospitality business in Dubrovnik for fifty years.

I have always admired well-run businesses. There is something exciting and satisfying about people working together to achieve the best they can.

Proto was a fine example of this, an excellently run restaurant. The attention to detail showed. The staff were well-trained and courteous; the napkins matched the table cloth; and the food was to die for. I had a fettuccine with prawns and truffles that I will remember forever.

Mato Durovic owns two other restaurants. Proto was such a delightful experience that we sampled the others too. Orlando is a café-bistro, in the main street, where we had a light lunch of open sandwiches and iced coffee. Konavoski Dvori sits beside a mill stream, in Ljuta, a village a few miles south-east of Dubrovnik. In a bush setting, with the Ljuta River tumbling over rocks beside us, we ate a traditional Croatian dish - lamb and potatoes that had been slow-roasted under an iron bell - and drank Plavac Mali, an excellent Croatian red.

 

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After our dinner at Proto we chatted to the manager, Kosto Vukota, expressing our delight and praising him on the quality of his establishment. He presented us with a souvenir book on Mato Durovic and the three restaurants. In it Mato explains what he is now trying to achieve.

I want to pass on my business expertise to the next generation, so that the continuity of a high-quality and clearly defined hospitality product can be maintained even after I’m no longer active; a product worthy of Dubrovnik’s cultural and historical reputation and its tourism charisma, for it is one of the most beautiful Mediterranean cities with a bright future and great potential for further development.

I guess I had found not only gourmet food but a kindred spirit.