Trip date: May 2019
I was watching the Netflix show Chef's Table and couldn't even figure out where Chef Ana Roš' restaurant was. But it looked lovely. And delicious.
Then I told my friend Aaron that I was going to explore Slovenia before meeting him in Croatia, and he asked if I was booking a table at Hisa Franko. When I googled the location and realized it was about 2 ½ hours from Lake Bled I emailed for a reservation. Originally they could get me in for dinner on the date I wanted but they didn't have a room for me to stay. The restaurant and inn are actually in the countryside of the settlement of Kobarid, there isn't anything close by so I asked for alternate dates for staying over and altered my plans.
I left Lake Bled after a full day of exploring and hiking and followed Google maps to Kobarid, which Hemingway wrote about in his novel A Farewell to Arms, as it was the Italian retreat during the 1917 Battle of Caporetto. I probably should have inspected the route Google had chosen more closely, as all of a sudden I was driving on basically a one-lane road, thru a mountain pass, that was extremely windy. At one point there was a lumber truck, taking down huge trees on the side of the road, and I had to drive under the tree hanging from the crane right above my car. Unnerving!
I wasn't happy with the drive, but I was thrilled when I arrived in the beautiful Soča Valley and pulled into Hisa Franko's parking lot. The woman at the front desk greeted me warmly and helped me with my bag up to my room (no lift). She showed me the room I had booked as well as another much larger one that there had been a cancelation on, which I happily took. I mean, I am not going to turn down a huge jetted bathtub and a king size bed!
After a soak and a nap I headed downstairs for a walk around before sitting for dinner. It's very secluded and quiet, and for anyone who has watched the tv episode, you'll recognize the creek with the rare Soča trout cutting right thru the property.
I was seated in a beautiful, if someone sparse dining room. The tables are very far apart, no chatting with the neighbors here. I ordered a martini (much needed after that drive!) and was brought a selection of amuse before the menu was delivered to my table. There was a little stool for my purse; bonus points!
Hisa Franko is currently #38 on the World's 50th Best Restaurants and there is no doubt in my mind that she will have a Michelin star before long. The courses were absolutely beautiful (21 of them!)
A few of my favorite bites were smoked tolmin cheese, lamb brains with berry preserved served inside a "donut", cuttlefish lardo with asparagus milk, and mountain veal.
I was so impressed when Chef Roš came around during service and introduced herself to each table. I was too shy to ask for a photo but I had a lovely chat with her. Near the end of the meal, diners were invited on a tour of the kitchen, wine cellar, and cheese cave. The restaurant is known to be the first in the region to age the locally made Tolmin cheese, referred to as pit cheese.
The next morning I came downstairs for breakfast and was blown away by how beautiful the breakfast room was! Large slider doors were open to the beautiful spring day. The trout brook could be heard babbling away. And my table was fully overflowing with the most delicious assortment of goods.
There was a basket of fresh fruit, a basket of fresh baked bread, a bowl of dried apples, various musli and granola toppings for yogurt, jams, butters, and a breakfast cookie. I also ordered scrambled eggs with herbs off the menu, all from their farm. It was such a lovely way to start my day. And when the waiter I was chatting with told me he'd grab my suitcase for me while I checked out, it was the cherry on top!
I'd highly recommend a visit to this little slice of heaven!
I had a 3 ½ hour drive to Zagreb, I was finally heading to Croatia and I was very excited! I looked more carefully at the Google maps and chose to take a direct highway this time. It actually sent me west into the Friuli region of Italy before looping east. I love driving through vineyards so it was the perfect route for me. Bonus that the land was also covered in poppies. So pretty!
Right before crossing into Croatia I stopped for lunch at Grad Otočec, an old castle taken over by the Relais & Chateau group and turned into a hotel and restaurant that sits on a small island in the middle of the Krka River. What's not to like?!
The food and service were both just ok, but the setting was gorgeous.
Slovenia had turned on the charm and I was under its spell.
All photos from Hisa Franko and Otočec here.
Other posts from this trip:
Something About Slovenia
Beautiful Lake Bled
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