Restaurants week — fall 2015

All my thoughts in one story.

Every year in Slovenia there is an event called Teden restavracij (Restaurants week) where all the best restaurants present a 3-dish tasting menu for 15€ (wine/beer pairing is charged extra). The event has two editions, one in spring and another one in fall. To get a reservation in a restaurant you want you need to be quick. This time I went with three restaurants, all in Ljubljana — Strelec, Shambala and Sorbara Steak House.

Strelec

It is a nice small restaurant in one of the towers of Ljubljana castle. The dining room is round and it has almost 180 degrees view on Ljubljana from the top. We got lucky to have a window table.

The meal started with greeting from the kitchen in form of chicken pate with pear jam. First dish was a Slovenian sea bass with melon, cucumber, pumpkin, tapioca and toasted bread — the freshness and combination of ingredients just screamed September and made me miss warm fall days in Ljubljana.

Then we continued with a dish called Veal from head to tail, slowly cooked veal ribs, fried veal chicks and tail, smoked potatoes, beetroot with ham and a beetroot mayo. The dish was very cosy and had a great mix of sweet and sour, just the fried veal chicks and tail were totally out of place. My favourite part of the dish were potatoes with a rich smokiness and a creamy texture.

We finished with a dessert that screamed buckwheat all over the plate. From poped-bucwheat (just like popcorn, but instead of corn there is buckwheat) to buckwheat panna cotta. All this buckwheat was balanced with plum in different variations and some mint leaves. This was my favourite dish and I can still taste the great combination of textures and flavours.

We had a really pleasant experience in Strelec and now I want to try their full tasting menu, so they achieved their goal to convinced me to come again.

From fish to veal and buckwheat at the end in Strelec.

Shambala

In the old arty part of Ljubljana there is Shambala, squeezed into an old inner courtyards covered with a glass roof. It is really cosy place filled with light during the day, but unfortunately it was already night when we arrived, so the glass roof wasn’t helping with photos.

You could choose between fish or meat menu for Restaurants week and I went with a meat menu. First dish was a lemongrass mousse with crunchy ham breadstick served in martini glass. On the paper this sounds great, but actual dish was very poorly executed. Mousse was to heavy, full of cream, so the taste of lemongrass almost disappeared and all you got left with was a glass of cream and a breadstick.

Creamy parsnips soup with curry and fresh coriander was a great refreshment after heavy starter. It was a good creamy soup with no outstanding characteristics that would excite me.

A first beer down and a second one on the table and we got to the main dish— duck breasts with a lot of different stuff. They were cooked really nice, tender and juicy. The sweet plum sauce was a great compliment, also pumpkin puree and whole hazelnuts. But the baby corn was weird. I don’t know why, but it was just so sweet and store-sauce like, it just tasted weird. Or maybe it tasted right and I am not familiar with this kind of flavours.

Looking back I had a great meal, with a great company and it was a nice ending to a busy day. The waiters were kind, the beer was ok — we drank one Japanese lager, but I don’t remember its name — and in the end I can say I had a good experience and I will be back someday.

Meat menu in Shambala.

Sorbara Steak House

Sorbara opened with a big bum. Everybody was talking about best steaks and burgers in Ljubljana so I wanted to try and see what the deal is and Restaurants week was a great opportunity.

We started with smoked beef tartar paired with experimental wet hop IPA from Reservoir dogs (Slovenian craft brewery). Beef tartar was great — tender and juicy — in my opinion just a little bit under smoked. It was served with nice homemade bread and well paired with beer. The freshness of it was a great compliment to the richness of the meat.

Following dish was black Angus filet mignon with black carrot puree and žgančevka (water left from cooking mush) paired with pale ale from Reservoir dogs. Filet was slightly overcook, but still juicy and tender. Beer was a great refreshment to the hearty dish.

Pumpkin and black garlic ice cream, crushed chestnuts, chocolate and sweet reduction of black Angus was our dessert for the day, paired with black IPA from Reservoir dogs. Beer was paired really nicely, giving ice cream the smokiness and bringing out richness of chocolate, but not being overpowering. But the flavours in dessert were very unrecognisable and pale, I wished there was more taste of black garlic and less chocolate.

Overall it was a great experience in very cosy environment. Sorbara is still a new kid on the block so there is some space for improvements left and I think they are going in the right direction to become a great restaurant.

Menu at Sorbara Steak House

In the end I was really happy with my choices and now I am looking forward to spring editions to go and eat in other great Slovenian restaurants.