trubar bar : grožnjan : istria

The opening of a new bar is something quite exciting here, in northern Istria. Although we have lots of choice when it comes to excellent restaurants, cool bars seem to be more of a thing on the coast. In fact, bar culture doesn’t really seem to have taken hold here, in the way it has back in the UK, and so when we see, or hear of something which could slot right into Burton Road, in West Didsbury, we are all over it. Over on Instagram I spotted a fairly new account for a jazz wine bar in Grožnjan and was immediately drawn to the very stylish interior, so of course we had to seek it out at the weekend.

Jazz bars definitely aren’t my favourite kind of bars, as I’m not the biggest fan of this type of music. However, Grožnjan holds a really renowned Jazz Festival every summer, which attracts some top names that even I’ve heard of (Georgie Fame, anyone?), so a bar of this kind is probably right at home in this beautiful medieval hilltop town. It’s conveniently located right next to one of favourite restaurants in the area – aModoMio – down a short, but extremely pretty cobbled alley.

Housed inside one of Grožnjan’s typical old, stone buildings, Trubar Bar is a warren of higgeldy-piggedly rooms, on two levels, with a small terrace running along the rear of it, on the first floor, with incredible views across the Mirna Valley, to the other famous medieval hilltop town of Motovun. Bare stone walls are complemented and softened by chalk painted cabinets and shelving. The bespoke bar is the focal point of the entrance room, along with an area with reclaimed cupboards and worktops for the preparation of their charcuterie boards. Velvet drapes section off this area from the rear where the kitchen (I think) and the toilets are located.

Wooden stairs lead up to the first floor, and walls are decorated with vintage instruments, photographs of jazz players and tumbling greenery. The theme continues in the main upstairs room – it’s very cleverly fitted out, with plenty of seating and tables, and a couple of small chaise longues. It’s not a huge room, and could feel over crowded, but somehow this feeling is avoided, even when you also add in a piano, a drum kit and a dual turntable. The musical influences are evident everywhere, and it’s not all jazz, which I think is a good thing. Nice to see a vinyl copy of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, amongst the stack of albums.

The second room on this floor is smaller – a couple of sofas and an exquisite velvet Chesterfield style armchair, with doors leading out on the narrow balcony. It was easy to get a seat out here on a sunny, but very chilly, Saturday afternoon in January but I’m guessing this space is highly fought over in the height of summer.

With the delicious local beer from San Servolo on draught and an excellent selection of very good local wines, as well as a range of cocktails, this bar has really thought things through. The charcuterie boards looked delicious – although they are a bit more pricey than other boards we’ve sampled locally. But, hey – if you want one, that’s what you’ll pay.

With dark navy walls, gold walls, dark wood, vintage and antique furnishings, industrial wall lights and moody lighting, this bar has, as far as we are concerned, got it right in terms of decor and ambience. OK, you may pay a little more than you might get elsewhere in internal Istria, but when you’ve been missing a cool, local bar, this seems a small price to pay. And, when you leave and this is the view you have across to the Adriatic, well, that’s pretty priceless…

Published on 17th January 2024