Groceries from local producers and excellent cuisine at affordable prices - Yes, it is possible!

One of the restaurants that has been talked about a lot in recent months is the Zagreb Matrix, which has made the author's food with the signature of a top chef affordable with ...

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Author  Mirjam Jukić

January 18, 2022

One of the restaurants that has been talked about a lot in recent months is the Zagreb Matrix, which has made the author's food accessible to everyone with the signature of a top chef. An interesting gastronomic story quickly found its place in the media, which is not surprising because behind it stands the most famous Croatian spin doctor Krešimir Macan, and photos of imaginative creations of chef Marko Jantolek flooded social networks. The combination of magical PR, a talented chef and a top sommelier brought Zagreb a great new gastronomic story with an author's signature.

Krešimir Macan he is the co-owner of the Matrix restaurant in Zagreb and claims that this venture is definitely better than politics because while politics divides, food and wine combine. Together with an IT expert Marija Stipanović, who has been successful in the restaurant business for a long time, Macan embarked on a new adventure. They gathered a top team with young people from Zagreb chef Marko Jantolek in the kitchen and an experienced sommelier and a woman from the world of hospitality Istrian Manuelom Maras at the table. The excellent PR man Macan explained the whole philosophy in one sentence:  "What we offer in The Matrix is ​​first and foremost an experience."

Before this new life adventure, Macan wanted to learn everything:  "I studied how food is served, how the table is arranged, how the complicated mechanism works from the kitchen to the guest. Only in this way can you provide the guest with the promised experience - because everything plays in it - from top food business and private, restaurants and often something was missing for a complete experience.Somewhere the boss had no understanding for the ambitions of the chef so the service was below the quality of food, somewhere the chef was lazy to change something in an exceptional location, and often everything was subordinated to quantity and make money, even though there was a lot more potential to work differently. And so the idea was born of one place where it would all fit together as much as possible, " Macan explained to Glas Istre. Today, everyone already knows about the Matrix, as well as about the chef whose creations are often on the social networks of satisfied guests.

Matrix chef Marko Jantolek graduated from the Catering and Tourism School in Zagreb. He then worked in several restaurants, and the turning point in his career was the invitation of Goran Kočiš, former chef and co-owner of Noel, to the only Michelin-starred restaurant in Zagreb. He baked the craft at Noel for fifteen months, and the impact of working with a top mentor in a fine dining restaurant is evident on the Matrix menu. After leaving Noel, Jantolek was the sous chef and then the head chef of the Pod zidom bistro. This popular chef has been participating in the Matrix project since day one. We used the visit to ask Mark what the situation is Croatian gastronomic scene.

"Unfortunately, the Croatian gastronomic scene is still far behind the world stage. I must admit that things have started and progress is improving, but it is still not good enough and there are not enough quality long-term projects that would put Croatia at the top of world gastronomy, although according to the predispositions of resources we have the opportunity and belong there.

We are a country with excellent resources, in some things we are without competition. Our olive oils are among the most valued and best in the world, Istrian truffles, top wines from all over Croatia, cheeses, meat, fish, fruits and vegetables… all these are products that are local, top quality, recognizable and that is why we start from ourselves and in the Matrix we use only these home-made ingredients from small family farms for the best quality food, and thus we achieve a difference that, believe me, is very noticeable. I believe that the riches we have must be the guide and the direction in which Croatia will be positioned on the gastronomic map and be recognizable to everyone, " points out Matrix chef Marko Jantolek.

The burning problem of Croatian tourism is the lack of manpower, and Jantolek concludes that this problem begins in the education system.

"For those who love cooking, it is definitely a marathon, so they should be optimistic, persistent and eager for knowledge and learning. As for Croatia, the problem begins with a disastrous education for the profession. Raising the quality of gastronomy, investing in gastronomy, opening quality restaurants. bars, hotels, schools ... we will enable young people to progress better and faster.Young chefs are not educated enough and have completely wrong expectations from tourism.They do not have quality mentors who will guide them in the right direction and they are thus left to themselves and With each addition to the Matrix kitchen, our primary goal is to detect the gaps in the knowledge we come with and to provide quality education and guidance through our familiarity with the processes. they are essential for their preparation.I think this is the right one and the only good approach because besides providing Here is the standard of food quality to which the guest is accustomed and which he expects, we usually open some new vistas for young chefs and spread knowledge that he can later upgrade himself. " emphasizes Jantolek.

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Photo: Matrix Restaurant

Modern cuisine with an author's signature with top quality ingredients of Croatian origin from small producers combined with top quality wines is the main theme of the restaurant that owes the name Matrix to the Matrix Office Park business center where it is located. Behind the glass wall of the spacious restaurant space, you can watch chef Jantolek stacking the menu, sorting food and creating new modern culinary creations. It seems cheerful in the kitchen, and the whole space exudes a relaxed positive vibe that very quickly creates a feeling of closeness to the creatively decorated space.

The bistro-modern concept is combined here with the haute cuisine, which uses top-quality ingredients from local producers. Meat, cheeses, fruits and vegetables come to the Matrix from small family farms, and meat, fish and eggs are from free-range farming while tuna is Adriatic. 

The head of the Matrix restaurant is the experienced sommelier Manuela Maras, whom we asked how the market reacts to a restaurant like this.

"After only four months of opening, I can say that we are extremely pleased with the reaction of the market, which reacted extremely well to our restaurant. When I mention the market, I do not mean only guests, but also the profession. gastronomic circles, so we are already included in the list of the best Zagreb restaurants in the prestigious Gault & Millau guide, and our chef Marko was nominated for the best young chef of the year by a gastronomic media. Raising guests to a new level The pleasure of guests in the Matrix experience was certainly contributed by the lower menu price than they would pay for the same quality in other restaurants, but also the recognized fact that most of the food we buy in the area and from organic (free) cultivation.

A successful caterer is characterized by a talent for diversity. When equipping the restaurant, I think, unlike previous experiences, that it is crucial that we give the kitchen a lot of space and equip it with the best equipment and thus provide better conditions for preparing our dishes, and give our chefs enough space for creativity and further culinary development. " Maras points out.

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Photo: Matrix Restaurant

For 300 kuna here you will get a tasting sequence that truly shows the best that the Matrix team has to offer, so if you are in favor of a top tasting, don't miss this sequence. Matrix experience will confirm the accuracy of everything you read a few months ago about this new Zagreb hub for lovers of top cuisine.

The young chef stands firmly behind the reputation, which the restaurant built very quickly and combines superb ingredients and creates unusual gastronomic stories. His skill is indisputable in the preparation of the most demanding pieces of meat and fish, and it is especially evident when you taste the creamy components that further enrich each plate. Even mashed potatoes come out of his hands as an interesting delicacy.

Chef Marko Jantolek quickly gained regular guests at the Matrix thanks to his imaginative creations and top performance. They make their own bread with a four-year-old starter, ferment kambucha, and make their own ice cream. Interestingly, on the daily menu you will find dishes at a price of 45 to 60 kuna, which are an ideal snack that you will rarely find in Zagreb in this quality.

The menu is seasonal and contains about twenty dishes, and the prices are surprising for original dishes at the level of fine dining with top quality ingredients. When asked how this is possible, Manuela Maras, a restaurant manager and an excellent sommelier, points out that it is very possible, as evidenced by the fact that this restaurant has already paid off its initial investment despite lower prices.

"When we agreed on our concept, our main guideline was to be of excellent quality, and at the same time to be accessible to everyone who visits our restaurant. As current trends in the domestic hospitality industry are bistro-oriented with more affordable prices, we found ourselves in to that we can confirm today that it is very possible to survive with top, quality and home-made food at more affordable prices, " explains Maras.

Considering that she is a sommelier with an enviable experience, we asked Manuela to evaluate Zagreb's eno offer.

The sommelier profession has come to life in Croatian restaurants and it is important to point out that sommelier is the main promoter of the Croatian wine scene. to me, a picture of the restaurant.It is my job to help guests choose a wine, to suggest and assist them whether they want to completely indulge and not think about which wine to drink or have doubts about it.

When compiling the wine list, we took care to cover most of the indigenous varieties, but also to give space to every winemaker who has good wine in the wine list. When asked which wines guests prefer to choose, domestic or foreign, I think there are no rules. We have good guests who have a good wine drinking culture and know a lot about them, so we sell wines in various ways, and we offer over a hundred labels of the best Croatian and a dozen top world winemakers, " emphasizes sommelier Manuela Maras who is responsible for Matrix Restaurant.

The food procurement system when working with small producers seemed challenging to me but Manuela says they arranged the procurement well.

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Photo: Matrix Restaurant

"When it comes to food procurement, the system is well organized. We are looking to use the highest quality foods available on the domestic market and in these modest four months we are very pleased with the food and the relationship with their producers, which is crucial to get the best goods. The most attractive "product, which is highly recognized and appreciated in our country and cannot be easily found in other restaurants, is Stancija Kumparička's goat cheese, which he left speechless in a recent recording of National Geographic and Gordon Ramsey, ranking it among the best in the world. . "

In the end, I was interested in how he evaluates the gastronomic offer of the Croatian capital?

"I think that Zagreb's catering offer has been quite dynamic in recent years. Several interesting projects have recently opened. Maybe caterers have finally become aware that we need to follow the foreign gastro scene and I hope that Zagreb will be included in the top destination for gastronomes ", concludes Matrix Restaurant Manager Manuela Maras.

We are sure that many more stories with top taste will be told about this chef and his creations, and the Matrix will probably know and keep its regular audience with this approach. If you haven't already, a recommendation for sure - check out the menu and experience a new tourist story of the Croatian capital that smells of success. 

Author  Mirjam Jukić

January 18, 2022