Somehow, there are still those who don’t know where Slovenia is. We, on the other hand, are going a step further, and stripping it down, region by region. Only a few know about the natural gems of the Upper Sanvinja Valley, but trust us there is plenty to discover. Pristine nature is usually a goal, but no one can enjoy it on an empty stomach. For that reason, we visited the family-run Hotel and Restaurant Planinka in Ljubno by the Savinja River. Our focus was spring meal with one intent- deliciousness. Did we score? Continue our Restaurant Planinka Review and see.
About Restaurant Planinka
Restaurant Planinka is part of a boutique four-star family Planinka hotel on the edge of Upper Sanvinja Valley. Their restaurant focuses on regional delicacies and is run by Chef Luka Peternel, who finds inspiration in nature for his seasonal menus. Not only does he like to use wild local ingredients, but he strives to present them in an honorable and delicious way as well. Planinka Restaurant is open to everyone who loves good food and appreciates kind service.
The Ambiance at Restaurant Planinka
The first thought that comes to mind is squeaky clean, simply because everything was just spotless and shiny. Our eyes wandered around the place to admire radiant chandeliers and paintings on the walls. As it turns out, most of the art pieces are made by local artists. And we aren’t talking just about the paintings, but also about wooden carvings as well. Some items can be bought while others are part of a precious family collection. Artistic touch can also be felt through the changing interior where wood is a constant. However, regal French influence is quite intense in the dining rooms. For our taste, the alpine wood style would suit us much better, but there is one extra bonus. A terrace, which is open during warm months of the year.
Planinka wine card holds a hefty collection of thoughtfully chosen labels. Most of them are stacked in the Planinka wine cellar, where wine degustation is also possible. On the one side of the wine cellar, you’ll find the authentic Slovenian space. It is dominated by dark wooden furnishings topped with a wall full of wine coming from all parts of Slovenia. On the other side is the bright modern cellar with wines from all around the world, with an emphasis on the European jewels.
If you aren’t a huge lover of wine, rest assured, you’ll find some refined spirits and aperitifs as well. In addition to that, it is possible to relax with a beer in your hand or go an alcohol-free route. In this case, sparkling grape juice and herbal lemonade are a must-try in Planinka Restaurant.
Medot Sparkling wine from Goriska Brda
Harmonically balanced sparkling wine is a combination of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Ribolla. Through fine bubbles, we caught the aroma of citruses and ripe fruit with hints of baked pastry. This white sparkling wine comes from the Slovenian coastal region Goriska Brda and quenched our thirst before we emptied our glasses. Its light acidity refreshed us from the inside out and left a mineral aftertaste.
Sauvignon Blanc 2020 by Simcic from Goriska Brda
Who knew that Romans first encountered white wine in what we now know as the Slovenian coastal wine-growing region? Quite impressive, right? Indeed, Sauvignon Blanc we had, surely got our spirits high with its long aftertaste and sensational mouthfeel. We were happily sniffing the ripe pear, green peppers, leather, grapefruit, and herbaceous notes to say the least.
Magnolija 2015 by Constantini from Goriska Brda
A red drop we can’t forget comes from the inner part of Slovenia’s coastal wine region, Goriska Brda. But more specifically we can say Magnolia – cabernet sauvignon has strong fruity and floral scents with woody undertones. It comes intense on the tongue as well with ripe blackcurrants, blueberries, dry plums, and woody notes. Given the perplexity of its essence, we were surprised to discover alcohol content at only 12,5%. Extraordinary cabernet sauvignon!
Food at Restaurant Planinka
The gourmet menu changes with the seasons and the availability of local ingredients. Guests can choose between 4, 6, and 9-course menu variations, with all focused on Slovenian cuisine. Here we must emphasize that meat was and still is an important part of Slovenian cuisine, therefore expect it on the menu. On the other side, there are local fish and imported goodies as well.
We began our feast with a spoon full of strong camomile tea in the form of a fluid gel. We loved the pop and how it filled our mouths with floral herbaceous notes ranging from sweet to bitter. It was the perfect warm-up to the earthy chickpea hummus in a crunchy shell topped with sweet parsnip chips.
Trout terrine kept shining through the celery and radish despite its well-known tender characteristics. Drops of guacamole made already succulent terrine even juicier while yogurt delivered some refreshment. We particularly loved the fine almond crumble for its sweet and crunchy contributions. In between the bites, we were happy to embrace the gently pickled red onion for more flavor and texture.
Fine-tuned carpaccio presented the toothsome symphony in every bite. We can say that the beetroot and horseradish pesto was the connecting link between mildly salty kohlrabi and its companions. While orange and dill played on the sweet strings the fresh pine nuts provided the buttery pine base. Moreover, the honey-like sweetness was also part of the lovely aromatic pickled radish and dried flower petals.
Nourishing soup made of young stinging nettles, ramps, and spinach shined in vibrant green colors of spring with a mouth-watering aroma. By the way, we could taste every element in it and particularly loved how thick sunchoke cream reinforced the sweetness coming from the ramps. Delicate wild ramps were the main ingredient in the sponge as well. We left the sponge to soak up the silky-smooth soup for a pleasurable wrap-up.
Perfectly cooked ravioli had a generous filling of creamy sweet potato with succulent royal prawn in its center. Sauce made of prawn shells cut straight through the black lentils with very pleasing richness. Although, black lentils played a vital contrast to sweet and creamy prawn variations they contributed to the grounding effect. In addition to that black lentils served yet another textural element and were a great match to crunchy zucchini stripes as well.
Umami-packed glossy beef jus was a flavourful addition to every item on the plate. It is possible that our favorite pairing was with herbal souffle made with fresh curd cheese, which granted some moist acidity. Of course, it was wonderful with vegetables and mushrooms as well. Although the roast beef was a bit chewy, we enjoyed the play of two sauces with it. indeed we were happy when we combined steak with the ramps sauce, beef jus, roasted hazelnuts, and quinoa popcorn.
There was more to the parsnip cream than renowned sweetness. Complexity was extended by the chives oil and it was a great match to the northern pike file. For a stronger balance, the tender file was covered with a cuttlefish crust and topped with thick parsnips cream drops. Without a doubt, it was a wonderful match to the sauteed baby spinach and handmade saffron gnocchi.
A combination of strawberries and fruity ruby chocolate is a sure triumph, but when a light white chocolate mousse is the star, everything dances around it. That was true also for the brittle almond crumble and lemon basil sorbet. Our taste buds were surely dancing to the rhythm of the popping candy while we were enjoying this sweet dainty.
The more we stay in Slovenia the more we are amazed. Not only by nature, but by its cuisine, ingredients, and after all, people. From time to time we forget we are still in Slovenia. It is so small but yet so big. Every region differs from another and everywhere you can find outstanding chefs and restaurants. This time we discovered, a family-run hotel with a great restaurant from where you won’t go disappointed, and neither did we. Amazing food, warm and hospital service, and most important – passion. Chef Luka has a bright culinary future and hotels like this will always make traveling pleasant. By the way, this location can be your start towards Logarska dolina.
Restaurant Planinka Review Card
- ATMOSPHERE – 8.4/108.4/10
- SERVICE – 9.7/109.7/10
- PRESENTATION – 9.8/109.8/10
- FOOD – 9.2/109.2/10
- DRINKS – 9.5/109.5/10
- VALUE – 9.5/109.5/10
Price and Location
A 4-course menu will cost you 54 USD, a 6-course menu 76 USD and a 9-course 105 USD. Here is a link to the location for easier navigation, and don’t forget they have rooms, so you can extend your visit and see all the beauties of this part of Slovenia.