PLATE WITH A VIEW: Taverna Rustica Dubrovnik, Croatia

Article excerpt

THE PLATE

Perched on a cliff edge overlooking Dubrovnik, this tiny taverna (open 7pm-1am daily) has been both a church and a private house in its long history. In 1972 when the 160-room Hotel Excelsior expanded along this rocky stretch of coastline, it preserved this small building and turned it into a romantic dinner venue. Dining at the Taverna is very like eating in a small gostionica in rural Croatia. The dcor is plain and the simple terrace is roofed with rushes. A lone guitarist plays and executive chef Steven Pieters adds a touch of glamour by lighting flares to guide you along the path from the Excelsior.

But nothing is allowed to distract from the only two things that matter " the food and the view. Seafood is a speciality, including oysters from Peljesac and lobster and mussels from Ston.

For meat eaters, there are three cuts of Croatian beef; dessert is limited to crpes and ice-cream. Croatian reds and whites make up an excellent wine list although anyone who opts for a litre of Posip from Korcula retailing at only 90 kuna (pounds 9) deserves what they get for scraping the barrel. …