When researching places to go and things to do during our trip to Slovenia this past summer, one restaurant that kept popping up was Hiša Franko in Kobarid. It’s been voted one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants and is known far and wide for its unique culinary creations. It makes sense, considering the owner and chef Ana Roš was selected as the best female chef in the world. With accolades like that, how could we resist? It helped that we were driving right through Kobarid on our way to Ljubljana so we had no excuse to miss this place. I’ve never thought myself much of a foodie, but I certainly enjoy a nice meal and can appreciate when a place does it right – unity between the menu, atmosphere, and waitstaff as well as a building with historical significance. According to the Diner’s Club, Hiša Franko was first built in 1868 and was where Ernest Hemingway wrote A Farewell to Arms. Pretty cool.
The most difficult part of the experience was getting a table! As you might imagine, a restaurant of this stature mandates reservations and only caters to a few parties per day. They are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and offer dinner the rest of the week with lunch on Saturday and Sunday. After going back and forth with them via email, we were able to squeeze in for a special lunch offering on a Wednesday, which is not normally offered. We happily accepted!
We arrived for our 2pm reservation with a few minutes to spare, so we checked out the grounds.
In addition to the restaurant, Hiša Franko is also an inn that guests can book rooms at. We didn’t look into it, but it seemed like a nice place to spend a night or two.
We entered through a small, non-descript door and were immediately greeted by a hostess, who showed us to our table.
The restaurant is inside a house, so the restaurant features a couple of small dining rooms with only a few tables in each. The decor was bold, but not outlandish, and tastefully done.
Our table was against a window, which provided a nice view of the surrounding mountains.
We were immediately offered a glass of wine, starting with a local Rosé that was to die for.
We were then brought a menu, which presented two options: a six-course meal for 85€/ea or an eight-course menu for 95€ each.
We chose the six-course option, and without delay, the plates began to arrive. First up was the apple fermented bread, fried dandelion, cheese lollipops, and lignon leaf with fermented beet.
The next item, brought out after we had time to wrap our minds around the appetizers and have another glass of wine, was the Sardine, candy lemon, and fennel followed by wild mushrooms with textures of potato and cheese rinds.
I’ve never been a fan of sardines in the past, but something about the flavor and freshness of this left me wanting more. About this time, we switched from Rosé to white wine, another local specialty, in preparation for the next couple of courses.
The next dish was wild mushrooms, followed by cauliflower ravioli, Arctic char, and lamb.
We made one more wine swap to a local Merlot and prepared our amateur palates for the final dishes: lamb with crab and sunchoke followed by desert.
The dessert included two small dishes that was a “bread and milk” interpretation (whatever that means) made with smoked milk, tuile of apple core, and English cream. It was delightful.
After more than two hours of wining and dining, it was time to settle up and move on. At just over 200€ for the both of us, it was by far the most expensive meal we had in Slovenia, and one of the priciest I’ve ever had.
Visiting Hiša Franko isn’t just having a meal, it’s an experience. The chef takes you on a culinary journey around the world and exposes your palate to textures and flavors that synergize exquisitely while maintaining visual appeal and being perfectly paired with crisp and aromatic local wines.
My initial apprehension about the price of the meal was quickly abated once the journey began. Although it was the most expensive lunch that I’ve ever paid for, it was worth every cent. If you travel to Slovenia, this place is not to be missed. Just make sure you get your reservation several weeks in advance!