Did you know that the best female chef in the world, owner of the 38th best restaurant in the world almost ended in Brussels as a freaking bureaucrat? Right! What a waste of talent would that be. Bureaucracy is for incompetent people, not creative souls! Luckily, she listened to her heart and we can appreciate her creations at Hisa Franko.
I am talking about Ana Ros, a chef who is creating some of the world’s best dishes. Ana and her partner Valter Kramar gathered together an international team to spoil no matters how demanding gourmand. If you are looking for the best restaurant in Slovenia, this is probably your answer. Check our Hisa Franko Review and see why we think so. Update: We are not the only one with this opinion. Hisa Franko got 2 Michelin Stars in 2020.
- The Ambiance at Hisa Franko
- Wine and Cheese at Hisa Franko
- The Menu at Hisa Franko
- Our Hisa Franko Review
- Delicacy Before the Sweet Treat
- Final Thought
- Hisa Franko Review Card
- Price and Location
The Ambiance at Hisa Franko
Slovenia is all about nature, and here at Hisa Franko, it is easy to feel close to nature. From our table, we enjoyed the unspoiled view over the forested hills and the valley. In addition to that, we even got to see the mountain peaks bathing in the warm light while the sun was setting. After the sun said goodbye, we treasured the dancing flame in the fireplace.
In a word, we can say the ambiance at Hisa Franko is very peaceful. Friendly staff took care of our needs and presented helping hand if needed. The only missing link we found was a lack of homely charm, which a spectacular view cant substitute.
Wine and Cheese at Hisa Franko
Before our lunch, we were lucky enough to see the famous Hisa Franko wine and cheese cellars. We expressed our interest in the guided tour beforehand and now we are happy to report our enthusiasm.
Precedence spot in Hisa Franko’s wine cellar belongs to natural wines from Slovenia and elsewhere. House sommelier Valter Kramar is a longtime wine collector and naturally produced wine enthusiast. Therefore, Hisa Franko wine cellar holds massive natural wine collection.
In the separate space right next to the wine cellar is cheese cellar. Cheese is another of Valter’s passions extending through the aging process of local “Tolminc” cheese. In time he perfected the ripening process and has now differently aged “Tolminc” cheese at the restaurant’s disposal. The oldest cheese in the cellar is aged up to five years but diversity continues through aging in different environments. For example, 4 months in the underground pit drastically change the cheese. This “cave” cheese, Ana Ros uses as a seasoning in some of her dishes.
The Menu at Hisa Franko
They ditched à la carte and rather serve extensive degustation menu which changes seasonally. At the time of our visit, it was towards the end of autumn, therefore Chef Ana Ros presented strong and tantalizing flavors. The menu is presented in-season local produce and is shaped by the surroundings.
Expect long lunch and enjoy this culinary journey.
Our Hisa Franko Review
One-bite Pallet Starter
Perfect ratio of cauliflower shreds and smoked cave-aged cheese pulled out the sweetness and nuttiness in both. While the addition of trout roe and crunchy rye tartelette reduced intensity a notch. The most complex and intense flavor was coming from the cheese. Furthermore, the long-lasting aftertaste is reaching the depth of the underground.
Vibrant edible flowers on top of all green bite popped eye-catching contrast while hazelnut miso excited the pallet. Wild herb salad became even tastier when eaten with plantago taco, elderflower marinade and yeast emulsion. This was a mouthwatering crunchy bite that ended with vegetal notes.
Potato aka “Chompa”
This is Chef’s Ana Ros interpretation of the traditional dish and one of our favorite plates we had that day. Basically, it is baked potato in a shell, which is made of hay, salt, and egg white. Next to it, we got double fermented ricotta cheese with smoked chocolate and chamomile.
Flavor varied from grassy to sweet and sour with lush chocolate hinting to chestnut notes. Not to mention how the double fermentation changed the ricotta cheese into the melting deliciousness that left our mouth moisturized.
Bignet stands for the incredibly light deep-fried choux pastry filled with lamb brain pate. Combining it with the perfect seasoning and preserved berries this creamy pate ticks all the boxes. Deep-fried bites like this, can easily be too greasy. However, not here! It was perfect.
Can bread be a dish? Yes, if it is made by Natasa Djuric, and it comes with homemade cultured butter. Truly, spelt flour and molasses sourdough bread is perfection in every bite. First, the color of the crust gets the imagination going before its crispness fills the ears. It is all we wished it to be and more.
Surf and Turf
Where to begin with describing our first dish? We loved the combination of light and sweet flavors with soft texture all the ingredients have in common. It started with the Mortadella consume, scallop sashimi and cherry tomato filled with Mortadella cubes. Naturally, it was more to it than that, especially when we got bittersweet tarragon oil on the spoon.
In the second part, we were presented with the “bacon” made of cuttlefish. It not only succeeded in bold imitation but also went wonderfully with the fried bread cube filled with Mortadella mayonnaise. Albert Adrià, are you here?
It goes without saying that the roebuck sashimi was so soft that it quickly dissolved in our mouth. We got some extra texture from the grated fresh chestnut while flavor intensified the fermented plum paste and umeboshi marinade.
Umami rollercoaster continued through the roebuck broth seasoned with juniper oil. The final bite induced an umami twist in the form of an oyster, which we saw coming in the broth. Before that entire dish was submitted to the roebuck.
Pituralka is an old pear variety known for its late harvest and small fruit that is best enjoyed when thermally treated. Chef Ana Ros knows that well and for this reason, slow-cooked Pituralka pear in pear juice and butter. She combined it with goose liver pate, chestnut, sage and coffee yogurt. As advised, we mixed all together and enjoyed the far-reaching burst of flavors. Lovely dish!
Pit Cheese Filled Raviolo
Let’s begin with the perfectly cooked raviolo, filled with “Tolminc” cheese aged in an underground pit. Even though raviolo was the star of the plate it had a strong supporting team in a form of artichokes, black truffle, and black trumpet also known as the horn of plenty. Our noses were sniffing some porcinis in the background… In addition to that, the cheese rind soup expanded the flavors with its slightly acidic taste and aroma similar to the one in cheese cellar.
Lamb and Crab
Once again we were encouraged to eat with our hands the tiny green wrap. To be more specific it was a mixture of lamb and crab wrapped in a chard leaf. We loved combining it with sunchoke chips and lamb soup in between the bites. Finale rounded the sweet gentle flavors trapped inside the poached egg yolk bathing in the lamb soup which was filled with the sunchoke cream and topped with fish roe.
Trout from the nearby river tasted outstanding with moist meat and crisp corn crust. Its mild taste grew in depth with porcini gravy made of buttermilk. To keep the lightness of the dish going chef added lightly seasoned winter salad on the side.
Pumpkin roasted in brown butter with tingling apple salad pointed us towards the seaside. It started with the sea urchin addition in béarnaise sauce that matched the color of a pumpkin. In the same color specter was also soft shrimp that was hidden from the eyes and edible flowers. This dish wasn’t only for eyes, its taste was clean, well rounded and warm.
Hisa Franko’s Interpretation of Istrian Stew or Jota
Free-spirited interpretation of traditional Slovenian stew looks completely different and yet it retained vital similarities. There was a turnip, potato and beans for a traditional base with the smokiness coming from smoked trout. Especially intriguing was the tender sausage made of pig’s snout and crisp kale. Indeed, a wonderful interpretation of an old nurturing dish that warms up any cold day.
Sweet companions to the roebuck fillet included pinecone, beetroot, and gravy. Pickled beetroot stimulated the fillet for a way back to the forest with cooked young pinecones, while horseradish ricotta cheese made the journey even more engaging.
Delicacy Before the Sweet Treat
As we come across in one interview Chef Ana Ros doesn’t really have a sweet tooth. Her go-to choice at the end of the meal is a cheese plate, and that is seen on Hisa Franko menu. Understandably, we went for the house cheese plate and finished with desserts.
To be honest, this is a nice experiment. All cheeses are coming from a similar base, and then the magic of maturation comes. We had fun getting to know how cheese evolves through the ripening process in four different samples.
It was absolutely delicious to discover the changes in the aging cheese with intensified flavors becoming nuttier in time. The final piece was the double fermented “Tolminc” cheese aged in the underground pit. This one is extremely strong tasting and, in our opinion, rather a seasoning than an independent ingredient. The only enjoyable thing was its aroma. I joke you not, but it smells like porcini – outstanding.
Apple croissant filled with rosehip cream and topped with caramelized goat milk not only looked beautiful but also tasted perfect. Things got even better when we combined it with the ice cream made of cooked apples and beeswax crème anglaise. Downside? Size of ice-cream serving.
Revolution of Kobarid Strukelj
A traditional dish with a reputation of being on the plate at the festive occasions as a fulfilling sweet treat was presented to us with changed filling. Instead of the traditional walnuts, raisins and breadcrumbs, ours was filled with apples and parsnip. Whilst walnuts and caramelized pork rinds were part of the topping.
Last Sweet Treat
Our final plate refreshed our pallet with preserved lemon sorbet and bergamot curd. The meeting point between the salty and zesty tang was the buttermilk reduction and verbena oil. Our only problem was the size because it all disappeared in one mouthful. Leaving us out of control sweet tooth restless.
Chef Ana Ros has perfected her pallet to the finest detail and balances the flavors in a tasty symphony. Basically, each plate launched “fireworks” and left us with always the same comment: “that was incredible.” It is difficult to follow all the happenings with identification, instead, it is better to let go of it and enjoy the moment. Understandably, her inspiration comes from the pristine nature, who is the best teacher and provider. We respect her effort toward the local produce and closer connection to the environment. Guys, Slovenia is a foodie destination 2020, I am telling you.
Any downsides for us? Yes, the ambient has some space for improvement. We were missing homely feeling or tack sharp design which would keep us in this nature bubble illusion. Another minus goes to dessert deprivation. Our sweet tooth is not easy to be satisfied.
Hisa Franko Review Card
- ATMOSPHERE – 9.0/109.0/10
- SERVICE – 9.4/109.4/10
- PRESENTATION – 9.7/109.7/10
- FOOD – 9.8/109.8/10
- DRINKS – 9.7/109.7/10
- VALUE – 9.5/109.5/10
Price and Location
Our Autumn menu came at a price of 150€ per person plus 10€ for a cheese plate. In case you are looking for wine accompaniment expect to add about 80€ per person. In house sommelier works closely with the chef and pairs mostly natural wines for you. For the occasion dress appropriately with the smart casual dress code in mind. Here is a link to the location for easy navigation. Enjoy!