Hisa Franko, Restaurant & Hotel, Staro Selo (close to Kobarid), Slovenia
It was on the recommendation of my friend Gasper Gabrijelcic that I visited Hisa Franko, the restaurant of one of the top, top chefs in Slovenia, Ana Roš, and her husband Valter Kramar, a unique sommelier. Since this restaurant isn’t just around the corner but located in a very beautiful valley in the South-eastern Slovenian alps, it is very reasonable that they offer ca 10 rooms for staying overnight – or for several nights.
The whole building is like a farm – Bauernhof – and has been rebuilt to become a locale for gourmet food and wine, for both relaxing and being inspired by local Slovenian products – from farms and directly from nature.
Stari Selo is a few kilometers west of a small town called Kobarid (in German Karfreit and in Italian Caporetto) which is a little bit above the wild river Soča surrounded by mountains and gorgeous nature. Soča is the Slovenian name but the Italian is Isonzo and many interested or simply literate people know about the horrifying Isonzo battles during the 1st World War. Franseco Rosi, a great Italian director who just died three months ago, made an impressive anti-war movie in the 1970s about the futility of this undertaking “Some Wars Ago”.
Today you can enjoy not only the wonderful nature but cross-able borders between Austria, Slovenia and Italy – and even this is only possible for the last 20 years – now we all are used to it. A great and sometimes unbelievable success of peace in Europe!
Food at Hisa Franko is amazing and the experience I had here is truly one of my best and most memorable. Cuisine of Ana Roš is down to earth but extremely inspiring and simply remarkable. In many aspects, her cooking is connected to her place: rich with local herbs, the meat comes from local sources (except the duck) – and since Adriatic sea is only 1 1/2 hours away by car, there is a delicious Mediterranean influence as well. Of course certain dishes are international like, for instance, maybe cod-fish – which is still from Europe. Anyhow: the exclamation mark is her capability of adding zest to each dish: a very inspiring, individual and modern sense of combining flavors and aromas.
Consequently all dishes are seasonal.
It is as I like it so much (!): you can choose between a nine course menu on the highest level of cuisine or you can order from a selection of more straightforward dishes.
Walter Kramar must have a remarkable wine cellar filled with mostly Slovenian wines. He is generous and constantly offers something new to try, a variety of new taste experiences. Not everything might fit perfectly to the dish – but this doesn’t matter as it would be changed immediately and without hesitation. This is the place to get to know Slovenian wines!
This review is about two dishes which are not part of any menu:
home made pasta (spaghetti) with morel mushrooms, speck and tomato
deliciously roasted it delivers real flavors of roasting but still so clearly lamb! There was aubergine mouse beside it, and her own “Ketchup”. All this was amazing, but the real experience and – I need to say it – exclusive and unique thing is those sour onions on the top of the meat. Both has been – invisibly – flavored and enriched by cinnamon and probably curry. This dish raises and even provoke experience of flavors. As I travelled a lot so far in my life immediately locations of flavors can appear. This one reminded me to a unique – let me call it a – “smell” of a garden restaurant in Almaty! The roast notes remind everyone obviously to grilled lamb although it isn’t grilled, but in combination of the sourness of onions and additional flavors I must say this is really extraordinary. The meat was as tender as it could be but not soft. Just as something like this should be: perfect and not to make better!
Aside of a very old chardonnay I am still not sure about, Valter offered Batic’s red reserve (https://avdwineandfood.wordpress.com/2015/04/26/rosso-batic-reserva-1999/) which fits well.
You will find all relevant information about both of them at http://www.hisafranko.com/.
Further reviews will follow soon! There are plenty of interesting stories to be told and of course in particular about the cooking! Many Michelin Star restaurants I visited are far behind the quality you will find here.
The hotel rooms are modern and well-equipped, well integrated into the structure of an old building. Perhaps some people would disagree with the concept of colors. What I really like is the usage of very different materials: wood, different stones, linen, wall papers but also blank walls.
Really! It is a truly wonderful place!