I am religiously working my way through the World’s 50 Best restaurants, a star studded list of exemplary eateries all over the globe. Hiša Franko in Slovenia is number 38 on the list, owned and run by chef Ana Ros, she is one of only four female chefs to make it on this year (a rise since 2018).
Located in the heart of the Soča Valley, in rural Slovenia, this restaurant once belonged to Ana’s father-in-law, who ran the venue as a quiet local restaurant and hotel. It was only when Ana met her husband Valter Kramer and was introduced to this special place that she decided to change career (previously on course to be a diplomat) and teach herself the skills of the kitchen.
Hiša Franko is surrounded by mountains, rivers and woods – a diverse and dramatic backdrop which serves as inspiration for her eclectic and exciting cuisine. Inside there are several stylish dining rooms for guests to enjoy the daily tasting menu (150 euros for approx. 20 individual courses/bites).
We sat in the newest space, a lovely breezy dining room, with simple, chic design and doors open to the elements.
All the wine is selected by Ana’s husband Valter, who has an amazing collection of local biodynamic wines from all over the country. After a delicious glass of Slovenian sparkling we were launched into the lengthy menu which began with four ‘snacks’. These dainty bites were delicate but full of flavour, highlights including a pillowy sweet Lamb brain beignet and the most beautiful floral Plantago taco with wild flowers, elder blossom and miso. Next a regal platter of bread arrived, homemade spelt sourdough with molasses accompanied by the most wonderful creamy cultured butter spiked with bee pollen.
The dishes were delivered to the table with a good pace, something I really appreciate for long tasting menus. There was a lovely variety to the menu, with seasonal ingredients at the heart of each recipe. Trout with corn buttermilk, salad of wild lily flowers and pickled porcini was striking on the plate and memorable on the palate, with deep mushroom flavours paired with sweet nutty corn. I also loved the Dry Aged mountain veal with oyster emulsion, tomato, almond and rice foam, a well balanced dish with a collection of ripe and fresh summer components.
I was impressed to see vegetables feature just as much as meat and fish in the main courses. Eggplant with tomato, black garlic cream, purslane salad grill and cottage cheese was one of my favourites. It was the two punchy sauces which made this dish stand out, individually delicious, but sublime when mixed together with the rich eggplant.
Our desserts at Hiša Franko were unconventional and thought-provoking… Beeswax with peaches and elder blossom was a fragrant and refreshing pre-dessert before the main event named (R)evolution of Kobariški Štrukelj – Parsnip, apple walnut and pork crackling, dumpling glazed with pork fat, smoked pork crème brûlée, sun dried plums and horseradish. I really enjoyed the savoury, salted dumpling with tender pork inside and the sweet apple whisky cocktail, but the horseradish crème brûlée was a little too radical for me.
Our meal concluded with coffee from a Ljubljanian coffee roaster and meticulous little petit fours. Before leaving we went for a quick tour behind the scenes of Hiša Franko, to see the shelves of carefully selected wines and the restaurant’s very own cheese cellar, with Valter’s aged Tolminc wheels of cheese. Outside, the team even has a stream with fresh fish to use when they need it… everything here is as fresh and local as it can possibly be.
Hiša Franko is reason alone to visit Slovenia. It is the most celebrated restaurant in the country for good reason, humbly elevating the best local ingredients with wisdom and imagination to create a dining experience which is full of wonder.
More information and book a table at Hiša Franko here.