The culinary scene in Slovenia has finally been been recognised by the Michelin Guide, with six restaurants in the country picking up Michelin stars, and a total of 52 eateries noted by the guide.
It was announced in November 2019 that the central European country would finally receive a Michelin Guide of its own. The release was expected in March this year, however, it was delayed until Tuesday, June 16, amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Hisa Franko: a two Michelin star restaurant
Chef Ana Ros's Hisa Franko picked up two Michelin stars. The restaurant prides itself on its sustainability, with a zero-kilometre philosophy – the concept that produce must be sourced locally.
It is located in the lush, green Soca Valley in the west of the country, close to the Italian border, a two-hour drive from Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia.
"We only buy from local producers and we follow the seasons. We avoid food waste and our wine list is highly sustainable," reads Franko's website.
"All the staff in this restaurant show real talent, from the female chef Ana Ros to the sous-chef, maitre d’ and everyone else on the team," the guide says of the eatery and its head chef.
"Professionalism, attention to detail and passion are evident in the cuisine here, as demonstrated on the tasting menu of several small dishes, all of which are different in taste and concept. Acidity is the dominate note in the cuisine here, alongside flavours with a hint of bitterness. Prepare yourself for an exciting culinary adventure and an extraordinary dining experience."
Dining on Franko's current early summer set menu costs €175 (Dh722) per person, without a wine pairing. Dishes include a plantago taco and wild plants; an apricot tartlet with carrot and blue cheese; celeriac as a goat's cottage cheese and tomato pizza; a trout trilogy from nose to tail; and tolmin cheese mochi filled with pear butter and elder blossom vinegar and hazelnuts.
Slovenia's one Michelin star restaurants
Further south, but still on the Italian border, Dam by chef Uros Fakuc was one of five restaurants in the country to be rewarded with one Michelin star.
The guide applauded the eatery's "contemporary-style dishes with an international flavour, all skilfully prepared and beautifully presented, with a slight emphasis on fish rather than meat" and its "ever-present" chef.
A meal at Dam costs between €45 and €75 per person, and it is a one hour and 10-minute drive from the capital. Dam is located inside a boutique hotel of the same name.
Further inland, Pri Lojzetu was awarded one star. It has chefs Dvorec Zemono and Tomaz Kavcic at the helm, and a meal there will cost between €50 and €85 per person. It is a 50-minute drive from Ljubljana.
"Authentic ingredients take pride of place here, most of which are local and which have been carefully chosen to offer cleverly combined dishes closely linked to the region, but also with influences from nearby Italy, all with an added modern-contemporary twist," the guide reads.
In the north of the country, 30 minutes out of Ljubljana, is Vila Podvin. Run by chef Uros Stefelin, it is a stable conversion, which serves sustainable, modern cuisine.
"With its roots in the local region, chef Uros Stefelin’s cuisine evokes memories and emotions, full of flavours which stimulate the senses," the guide says. A meal there will cost between €20 and €89 per person.
The only restaurant awarded a Michelin star in the capital is Atelje, a neighbourhood eatery which serves up a Michelin-starred meal for as little as €18.
Jorg Zupan is the chef at Atelje, where he "serves deceptively simple cuisine which is actually elegant and skilfully thought out. Fermented products add a touch of acidity to the dishes, while ingredients such as kombucha and miso bear witness to the chef’s travels around the world."
The most northern of the six restaurants is Hisa Denk, located an hour and a half outside of Ljubljana, close to the Austrian border.
The guide explains: "The perfect ambassador for excellent Slovenian fare, [chef Gregor] Vracko plays with the concept of a surprise menu (the longest menu includes around eight). This chef combines a modern and creative approach with pride in the culinary traditions of his region."
A meal here costs between €39 and €69. And you can sleep on site, at one of Hisa Denk's six modern rooms, which start at €70 per night.
Where are Slovenia's six Michelin star restaurants located?
The six Slovenian restaurants to earn Michelin stars:
Hisa Franko, chef Ana Ros: two stars
Atelje, chef Jorg Zupan: one star
Dam, chef Uros Fakuc: one star
Hisa Denk, chef Gregor Vracko: one star
Pri Lojzetu, chefs Dvorec Zemono and Tomaz Kavcic: one star
Vila Podvin, chef Uros Stefelin: one star