There are moments when I have to pinch myself, count my blessings, and marvel at the insane gloriousness of nature and humanity. A meal at Hiša Franko in the Slovenian Alps just outside Kobarid, with the world’s top female chef at the helm, is one of those moments. Like many of their recent guests, we first heard about Ana Roš and her cooking—which has been taking the world by storm—on the Netflix show, Chef’s Table.
I’ll often watch one of these episodes and check out the menu at the chef’s restaurant with no serious intent to visit. Mostly, my bank account doesn’t enable my culinary fantasies to come true. However, on this occasion, it turned out that assuming I was able to get to Slovenia without breaking the bank, the cost of a six-course meal at Hiša Franko was within reach at 85 Euros per head.
Without having a place to stay, or an airline ticket, I booked a table on a distant July date, figuring that I’d build our summer vacation around this one meal.
So it was, that on a golden July 4th evening in the Alps, having quickly checked into the gorgeous Nebesa, we were taking our seats in the summer conservatory and deciding between the six or eight course meal. First off, the table setting was lovely. There was something so tranquil and pleasing about it with fresh roses and a linen, floral tablecloth.
Hiša Franko is the result of a young couple inheriting an inn nearly 20 years ago. The wife, Ana, gives up her intention to be a diplomat and instead, teaches herself to cook over a number of years, while her husband Valter, focuses on being the sommelier and co-conspirator. It wasn’t all plain sailing, and a family rift ensued, but earlier this year, Ana Roš was named the world’s best female chef.
Back to our meal.
I started out with a glass of rosé bubbles to help peruse the menu. We were quickly brought cheese “lollipops” and some delicious house-made bread and butter. The bread, we were told, was made from fermented apple peel. As a rule, I generally don’t eat bread, but this was a ‘no rules’ type of an affair. It was so insanely tasty that I had to request they stopped refilling our bread basket or I would be eating a six-course meal made entirely of dough.
Then came our amuse bouche. Fried dandelion atop parsnip. Lingon leaf, fermented beet, cottage cheese and forest honey. Delicate, light and tasty. Just enough to whet our appetites.
A parade of savory dishes slowly and graciously followed. Everything was just the right size. Leaving you a tiny bit wanting more, but at the same time the scarcity forcing you to savor every mouthful. Let’s just let the pictures do the talking.
Now, before we move onto dessert, I must say that we had two particularly special companions at dinner: Anya and Millie. They were English Labradors, owned by Brits who lived in Hungary. They were made quite welcome and sat under the table next to us. Needless to say, we were smitten and started to miss our girls immediately.
Luckily, dessert and petit fours came along just in time to soothe our sadness. The perfect balance of textures and flavors, I had to restrain myself from licking the plate clean.
For a restaurant and chef with a big international reputation, Hiša Franko, Ana and Valter, are all very unassuming. Valter said hello to us at our table, and I shared a few brief words with Ana in the hallway. She was warm, yet seemed happy to move about unnoticed in the restaurant. A welcome change from many of the “celebrity” chefs in the U.S..
Needless to say, if you ever get the chance to visit and eat the best that Slovenia has to offer, then you should definitely seize the opportunity.
Reservations can be made here.