Check Please!

Check Please!

Life in Montenegro can be, for someone arriving from the West, full of quirkiness. Your day can sometimes be full of little things that make you slightly crazy . . .

. . .  things that, even many years later, you never really get used to; lingering leftovers from a bygone era (remember carbon copy paper?), or new inventions of a bureaucrat who has too much time on his or her hands. If you come for a visit, here is one example of local quirky you will like to know in advance:

Getting your bill at a restaurant

Each time you order something from the menu, a fiscal receipt has to be printed. This means, that over the course of a long dinner or drinks with friends, the server has to bring a bill for what you just ordered and leave it on the table… and this happens every time you ask for something. There is no such thing as getting a nice clean check at the end. As drinks or your meal evolves, all of these little receipts, typically get stuffed into a small shot glass on the table or under an ashtray (yes, you can still smoke inside in many locales).

I’ll take the check  . . . I mean the handful of receipts

Photograph by Colin Kingsmill

At the end of your bar or restaurant experience, your server has to manually add up all the little receipts to give you your total due. It is especially fun when you have to save these for office expenses! It may be a great way to ensure that fiscal crime is being fought, but if any receipts fall on the floor (or someone takes a few and puts them in their pocket), the server has to make up for the difference.

Recently, while brunching at one of my favorite spots, Restaurant ONE, I was sitting beside a couple of Americans where were having their first “fighting fiscal crime, one chit at a time” moment. The, polite and thorough, explanation by the server did not go very far in helping them understand why the corner of their table was full of little paper chit receipts for each of the vodka martinis they had ordered over the past couple hours. There was confusion on both sides (and it was not just because they were drunk) and they left their first Montenegrin hospitality experience scratching their heads.

I am still getting used to “quirky”, one day at a time…



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Cesarica in the Old Town of Kotor

Cesarica in the Old Town of Kotor

Konoba Cesarica

Cesarica “Konoba” is in the heart of Old Town Kotor hidden away in a street behind between Pub Dock and Scorpion Bar. We discovered it when we arrived in 2009 and it has been a favorite ever since. It is consistently great; fresh food; warm and friendly service and the cozy ambience. Vaulted ceilings make for a great atmosphere, especially if you are with a group.

Hidden away in the maze of small streets that make up the Old Town of Kotor, it is not easy to find. Not to worry; any local will be able to send you in the right direction. It is very close to the Serbian Orthodox church of St Nicolas which you will find in one of the main squares.

The owner will show you all the old photos of his family on Muo just across the bay from Kotor. He was a sailor before he became a chef. I would highly recommend the black risotto, the squid stuffed with shrimp or the fresh catch of the day; grilled, with Swiss chard and boiled potatoes.

Entirely delightful. Enjoy!

Cesarica Inside

Cesarica Inside


The (great) Restaurant at Hotel Montenegrino

The (great) Restaurant at Hotel Montenegrino

Lunch at Hotel Montenegrino Tivat Montenegro

Fresh catch of the Day

There is this lovely little hotel in the historic center Tivat called “Hotel Montenegrino”. It is one of the first small hotels in the town, and judging by old the black and white photos on the wall, it sits in one of Tivat’s most historic waterside buildings just steps away from the waterfront promenade. The interior is classically elegant and distinctly Montenegrin with lots of dark woods. The rooms are simple and clean. The dining room has prominently featured wines, white linens, a fresh fish case and a very well stocked bar. There is some seating outside, and if you get the table by the road, you can people watch while you enjoy lunch or dinner.

The real attraction to this place is its restaurant. It is a well kept secret amongst the local community. While there may be more popular locales in Tivat; where the music is louder; the furnishings more trendy or the menu more elaborate, but this one is one of the finest. Classic, simple and perfect. The food is always delicious and you never have to wait too long. The staff are always friendly, courteous and smiling. Best of all, the prices are incredibly reasonable, especially for a coastal town where prices usually are higher because of the tourist market. You can have a starter, main meal and a glass of wine for all less than 15 Euros.

I would recommend you start with the fresh fish soup; be sure to try the grilled octopus (considered the finest in the bay) and ask them to bring everything family style so you can all share! If you like steak tartar, they are also very good at making it here.

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