After a proper walk, we were really hungry and ready for the local north Slovenian cuisine, so we headed to the Vila Podvin. The restaurant is a short 10-minute drive from Bled and a reservation is a must, no need to explain why. Let me just say that more and more people like to eat food that was made with love. Dedication to local goods is diverse in this restaurant. It’s not felt only in the dishes but also in the atmosphere of the place. I hadn’t met a person that would be so intensely involved with the local community. Every first Saturday they host a market, where their partners are introduced to the public. In that market, everyone can find out where the ingredients for their dishes come from. The restaurant has even a ceramic atelier, where they keep the local motifs alive and still in use, as well as they promote and use the ceramic of the center for the work safety and training: its inmates are people with special needs.
So, what did we eat?
The lunch started with the presentation of the typical regional breakfast, served in an eggshell. The filling was deliciously seasoned and made of “polenta” which is a corn mash, egg yolk with rinds, and potato foam with crispy bacon on top. This would be a delicious breakfast to eat every day for the longer period, as it was so delicious that I scraped out everything and even damaged the eggshell a little.
The next finger food was small sized cones filled with smoked trout and horseradish. They were a real treat for our eyes and taste buds.
It’s admirable that they make yeast free bread, which had an insanely crispy crust and the taste was also a little bit stronger than usual. That freshly baked bread was still warm when the waiter brought it to us. On the side, colorful butter stripes mixed with nuts, betroth and herbs were positioned.
From here on, we chose two different types of the menu so each of us got a different plate. Marinated sea bass was Ian’s first cold appetizer. The file was accompanied with sour cream and herb sauce on the side of beetroot and parsnip puree plus a drizzle of parsley oil. For a change, it was nice to get a marinated fish on the plate, instead of a smoked one. My dish had some stronger flavors as it was a marinated bovine tongue with some green salad, enhanced with black walnuts, quail egg, horseradish mayonnaise and local spicy cheese.
For a warm appetizer, we were offered a sunchoke soup with yogurt foam and fried parsley, which the chef added sunchoke chips on for more crispiness. The other soup was made of potato and mushroom foam with dried fennel. Both soups were very delicate, and maybe the mushroom one was even too concentrated for the starter. However, no worries. We can manage strong flavors anytime and anywhere.
When the grilled octopus was put on the table, we got a flashback to the time when we were in Greece. There we’ve eaten the softest, butter-like, and delicious octopus that we both recall very vividly. We were in doubt, that this one will as soft as Greek one. However, we need to admit it was very close to that one. Nevertheless, the whole dish was very flavorsome. The baked cherry tomatoes on the side were perfect along the cuttlefish and squid sauce. The second dish this round was a sea bass file wrapped in the dough, along with the light lemon seasoned puree, sweet and crispy fennel chips, and spinach. The last ingredient was a bit too salty for my taste, but the whole dish was well designed.
“Their style reminds me of Repovz and the line between modern and traditional is thin. However, it never ever gets crossed.”
The next one on the menu sounded close to one we had eaten at Strelec, so the excitement grew when I remembered how delicious it was. To be able to compare such talented chefs was exceptional. That course was ravioli stuffed with local cheese, mushroom foam, and creamy quail egg yolk with autumn salad. At first, I was seeking for the differences and then I started to appreciate them. It’s quite simple: there is a hidden secret. The process of preparing dishes is similar to the creation of unique artworks. Ingredients grow in different places and environment affects them. The way a chef prepares the same dishes varies also with regards to his well-being. When you think about all those aspects and then focus on yourself and how you constantly change it’s obvious that the only constant thing is change. Ian and I had an agreement that we would eat half of each dish and then switch, so both of us would be able to taste everything. This time, however, I negotiated tasting that was just one mouthful and he was also pleased as his dish was meatier. He had veal with sunchoke cream and chips, with roasted cauliflower and herbal sauce. The dish was great in every aspect.
Before the next course, we went for a wine switch, which had the smell of Amarena cherries, berries, and sweet fruity aftertaste. Rubino wine is produced at farm Fornazaric and is made of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, to which sweet wine from dried grapes is added. That semi-dry wine was a companion to the blood sausage with apples and truffles, sprinkled on top with hydrated onion. We need to admit that we love blood sausage. However, this version wasn’t our favorite. The texture was too soft and it reminded me of a baby food. To be clear, however, the tastes were extra good, strong, and clean. The other main dish was piglet with a dried lemon peel that was fried. Sides were beans with bacon, red cabbage with apples, and cream made from parsley root. Piglet was roasted to the perfection. Crunchy outside and soft underneath, just like Ian’s nature when it comes to a dish like this.
Desserts were in a perfect harmony with autumn. The first contained pumpkin sauce with orange and curd pannacotta, along with the chocolaty chestnut muss, apple chips and apple ice cream sprinkled with hazelnuts and walnuts. The other one was hiding under the sunchoke topping. Beneath, it was pear with pumpkin – chestnut sauce merengue and mint sponge. It was a perfect finish and our tummies were full like never before. Overall, the restaurant is one of the best in Slovenia. Their style reminds me of Repovz and the line between modern and traditional is thin. However, it never ever gets crossed.
In this restaurant, they create the modern Slovenian cuisine that has to be respected. There is not only food that is genuine, but also the Chef. Let me mention that the restaurant is open also for people with special needs of a nearby institution to participate. This is incredibly beautiful and rare gesture. Socially responsible with a noble goal – to return Slovenian cuisine back to its origins and upgrade it with a modern approach.