After reaching Kobarid, we already began to fantasize about our 11 course dining experience and wine tasting at a Chef’s Table featured restaurant, Hisa Franko, in northwest Slovenia. We also had booked the B&B portion for one night ti breakup our visit to Ljubljana. #traveltip: Hisa Franko is closed Monday and Tuesday so if you are thinking about visiting, plan your travel accordingly.
Hisa Franko itself was only a few kilometers from Kobarid and was easy to find through Google Maps. We pulled up in the very windy and slightly rainy weather to check in – it looked a bit like a Tuscan villa, but slightly overgrown and with more homely charm. We were competing with the front-desk, which was busy processing check outs, at our 1600 arrival. We had to wait about 15 minutes, so we took some time to walk around the property and get our luggage.
Shortly after we were checked in to room #2, one of the “My Africa” room. It had some odd bugs – maybe features? (such as no shelf in the shower, little to no usable outlets, no bathroom door that completely closed, and a shower that leaked). Nonetheless it was a comfortable and large room, although not as luxurious as we thought for the price (120 Euro).
The high point of this visit to Hisa Franko, however, was not the room, it was the food and wine. As we walked in, we saw several couples enjoying curated wine by the house sommelier outside the restaurant – and we thought to do the same. After a shower and a brief rest, we went downstairs at 1845, 30 minutes before our 1915 reservation to settle in and relax to teh decadence to come.
We started with some delicious Slovenian sparkling wine – Bjana – from the Brda region. It was some of the cleanest, dryest sparkling wine we had ever had.
If this was a preview of what’s to come, it was a good omen.
We were seated slightly before our designated reservation, and were given a beautiful corner table adorned with a single red rose, fresh from one of Hisa Franko’s suppliers (we later found out).
The anticipation was certainly building, as the maître d’ placed our tasting menu descriptions in front of us with care. I glanced for a minute, found some weird things, and decided I’d rather be surprised!
But first, we got a top off of our sparkling wine to enjoy with the first two snacks on the list (see menu above, because they are just too hard to describe!).
Three sets of snacks then arrived, with a sauvignon blanc wine pairing. It was refreshing and crisp, and pulled out the elder blossom and shallots in the appetizers.
Next up was one of the weird ones – lamb brain. I was a little timid to try it, so I cut it in half to inspect – it looked good, and it smelled good. Open wide!
Then came the bread – some of the nicest sourdough we had ever tasted.
It was phenomenal, with a very specific flavor coming from the bee pollen around the butter.
At this point we probably stopped keeping count of the courses, and they never ceased to bring us more, with very good pacing.
And came one of the most interesting (and my favorite) wine – the Angel. It was an orange, organic wine that was extremely uplifting and flavorful, without the sediment feeling you sometimes get from unfiltered wines.
Next up came a very interesting dish – a potato cooked in hay with fermented cottage cheese and chocolate. It had exquisite flavor, you just had to be careful not to eat the crust. The presentation was also inventive, par for the course at Hisa Franko.
At about this point in time, the amount of wine brought did outpace the amount of wine we could drink, and I started to fall behind the intended pairings. The next wine brought was the first red, and one I did not care for – but I’m not sure if I didn’t like it because I was eating it with the wrong food, or if I just didn’t like it. Either way, I mostly skipped this wine, preferring to stick to the previous Angel, and then on to the next white that was brought.
The next tasting really started to get in to the meat of the menu, and was one of my personal favorites. It was lamb and crab, with an unbroken egg yolk that was supposed to open your palette after every bite (alternating bites between the lamb and crab, and a sip from the egg yolk broth).
We then moved back in to whites as we shifted to trout. It had notes of passion fruit, even though I kept confusing it with apricot. We really likes this wine.
And then the dry aged mountain veal, another personal favorite.
Followed by the tripe with pit cheese (much better than I would have thought but pungent). Literally, this cheese was made in a pit.
The recommended pairing was a merlot, which was very light and drinkable.
Then we moved in to sweeter territory, starting with a beeswax experimental dish with elder-flower that Ana the chef was trying out.
And then a very interesting brandy cordial to accompany the smoked pork dumpling, pork creme brulee, and horseradish.
At this point we were really enjoying ourselves!
And some final sweets to close the evening – the whey and cardamom caramel was my favorite. Although, the rosehip bonbon was fascinating.
This topped off a perfect eating adventure, and it only got better with a tour of the Hiso Franko kitchen at the end by the sommelier (to take a look at the wine and cheese rooms), and by Ana herself (of the kitchen). The staff was so kind, and she introduced each one of the staff mentioning his or her home country. It was an incredibly eclectic kitchen, and she was uncharacteristically humble. She also explained that she spun off the breakfast service as a way to provide other opportunities for her staff that didn’t want to continue with the stress of the evening service. As managers, this was something both Brendan and I resonated with.
After the tour we fell in to bed, only to awake to another lavish feast of a cold, gourmet breakfast at Hisa Franko. Breakfast ran from 7-1000. Unfortunately we were not very well rested because Brendan had sinus issues for most of the night due to the wine, and he pulled me in to his orbit 🙁
We dined inside because it was uncharacteristically windy.
And, shortly thereafter we checked out the magical Hisa Franko experience and were on our way to the Triglav mountain range, which we would try to cross and make it in to Austria.