Konoba Lola, Vis, Croatia

Our visits to Vis town, on the island of Vis, have usually seen us eating in the paradise garden at Villa Kaliopa, located at the Kut end of the bay. Always memorable but recently more main stream in their approach to serving their guests. At first they just told you what they had, and brought it out – you paid whatever they asked. The rot set in when they told you how much each course cost and now, goodness gracious, they have a MENU. With prices. All very logical but in the early days it felt like your personal staff were just cooking for you. (You have staff??…Ed).

Clearly as the tourists multiplied, convention triumphed.

Vis was out of bounds in Tito’s time, most of the houses abandoned.

Of all the inhabited Croatian islands, Vis is the furthest from the coast and the most enigmatic. It spent much of its recent history serving as a Yugoslav military base, cut off from foreign visitors from the 1950s right up until 1989. This isolation preserved the island from development and drove much of the population to move elsewhere in search of work, leaving it underpopulated for many years.

Over the last twenty years people have returned, houses renovated, little shops and restaurants sprung up and tourism is booming. First it was back-packers, now holiday homes and yachts. Lots of yachts. The town is ranged across a big, north-facing bay and there is capacity for 200-300 boats anchored, on the quays or on moorings. Plenty of space to shelter when the weather turns nasty. It doesn’t do it often, but a good place to be when it does. We were once sheltering here many years ago in a three-day Bora. Safe, but the water ran out.

We’re sailing with family, and they recommended Konoba Lola (reminds us of The Kinks….who?.Ed)…

Girls will be boys and boys will be girls
It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world
Except for Lola, la la la la Lola

Lola is an attractive transgender woman; the narrator is a young man, flattered by the attention paid to him by her. Ray Davis has claimed that he was inspired to write “Lola” after Kinks manager Robert Wace spent a night in Paris dancing with a transgender woman. Us? We prefer Waterloo Sunset – captures the mood in the late 1960s [and in 1967 particularly] perfectly. The best song ever written. Possibly. Probably.

Pop music journalist Robert Christgau called it “the most beautiful song in the English language”

So Lola, not too hard to find in the little narrow streets back from the quay, a delightful garden able to seat maybe 50? Not as discreet as Kaliopa but with two simple prix-fixe menus: 4 courses or 6. We go for the 4 at Kn290 and, with some amuse-bouche (why do the French get to name everything?) and it’s plenty. Great bread cooked like muffins, in muffin cases. A local red helps it all slip down, though at 15.1% you need to be careful. The best course was probably the Gnudi (like Croatian gnocci) – see photo. Around Kn1500 for 4 – or about £190. Not cheap but then Croatia isn’t these days!

Konoba Lola, Vis

*Note the featured image shows the new passenger terminal at Split Airport. Long, long overdue…and still crowded

That gnudi was tasty…

The other dining table – Architect Sarah Wigglesworth…

…and the original Vila Kaliopa in Kut. Still great

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