Interior of Hisa Franko Restaurant in Slovenia

Hisa Franko: Full Review of a Restaurant Worth Planning a Vacation Around

Last updated May 15, 2022 | Food & Wine, Slovenia

After watching the Netflix series Chef’s Table Season 2 on Hisa Franko, Slovenia suddenly rose to the top of our list as our next foodie vacation. If you have not watched this episode, do yourself a favor and put it in your queue. You cannot help but fall in love with Ana Roš, the culinary wizard behind this amazing little gem of a restaurant.

Before we even booked the hotels and flights, my husband and I secured a reservation at what is now #21 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Hisa Franko also earned 2 well-deserved Michelin stars. I am excited to bring you along our culinary journey at this truly special restaurant. Bon appétit.

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Backstory Behind Hisa Franko

Hisa Franko entrance

Hisa Franko entrance

Chef Ana Roš and sommelier husband Valter Kramar are the reasons for the success story behind Hisa Franko. It all started one evening during Ana’s college years when her mother made her come to dinner at Hisa Franko. Valter’s family owned the restaurant, and he worked there as a waiter. Sensing Ana was bored, he invited Ana for a glass of wine at the bar.

They started dating shortly after, fell in love, and began to travel the world discovering new countries, culinary flavors, and wines.

When Valter’s family decided to retire and pass the restaurant on, Ana chose to stay with Valter and help run the restaurant.

The road to success was not easy. Ana is a self-taught chef.  She went to the library and studied cookbooks. She visited some of the top restaurants (such as El Bulli and El Celler de Can Roca) in the world for inspiration.

One evening a friend suggested that Ana start using local Slovenian ingredients as the focus of her dishes. That is when everything started to fall in place!

Chef Ana found her culinary identity and is now known for her playful modern interpretation of traditional Slovenian recipes using local ingredients. She loves to surprise her guests with different food textures and contrasts. As she states on the Netflix special, “the only thing I don’t like to hear from my guests is that dinner was boring.”

Restaurant Ambiance

Soca Valley in Slovenia

Soča Valley in Slovenia

The pink-walled Hisa Franko is located in a little town called Kobarid, which is situated in the jaw-dropping, absolutely mesmerizing Soča Valley with its turquoise river and lush forests. Close to the Italian border, the restaurant is nestled against the Julian Alps and is not far from the Adriatic Sea.

When you walk into the restaurant, it truly feels like you are going to a friend’s house for dinner. There is no pretentiousness. You are enveloped by the warm hospitality as soon as you walk in the door.

Hisa Franko is not just Ana’s restaurant, it is her actual home. Hisa means home in Slovenian. She resides here with Valter and her two kids.

This work-live environment is probably a major contributor to the immediate warm welcome you feel as you interact with her and her staff. You can immediately tell family is very important. The love, heart, and soul of this place are palpable.

Dress Code at Hisa Franko

Smart casual. We personally dressed up. I wore a black dress (see photo below), and my husband wore a suit. We could have gotten away with being a little less dressy, but this was a special occasion.

Picture with Ana Ros, chef at Hisa Franko

Picture with myself and Chef Ana Ros

The menu is separated into three sections: finger bites, table bites, and sweet bites. All ingredients are indigenous to the area and are fresh and in-season. 

FINGER BITES

Green pea and chickweed salad, smoked bone marrow, strawberry seed oil at Hisa Franko

Green pea and chickweed salad, smoked bone marrow, strawberry seed oil 

One bite of “Kalamari na zaru,” smoked pit cheese

One bite of “Kalamari na zaru,smoked pit cheese

Holly, black shallots, blue cheese and Kale taco, wild plants, elder blossom, and hazelnut miso  and Trout skin and bergamot at Hisa Franko

1. Holly, black shallots, blue cheese

2. Kale taco, wild plants, elder blossom, and hazelnut miso

3. Trout skin and bergamot 

Lamb brain and preserved berry bigne

Lamb brain and preserved berry bigne

TABLE BITES

Spelt and whey sour bread and cultured butter with bee pollen

Spelt and whey sour bread and cultured butter with bee pollen

Silver mussel, bitter orange, charcoal grilled green asparagus at Hisa Franko

Silver mussel: Mussel, bitter orange, charcoal-grilled green asparagus 

Cuttlefish lard, fried bread soaked in white asparagus milk, pine nuts, ransom sprouts at Hisa Franko

Cuttlefish lard: fried bread soaked in white asparagus milk, pine nuts, ransom sprouts 

Baby veal consommé, celeriac, mountain baby veal, lovage oil, linden leaves at Hisa Franko

Baby veal consommé: Celeriac, mountain baby veal, lovage oil, linden leaves 

Čompe s skuto, potato cooked in August hay, fermented cottage cheese, smoked chocolate at Hisa Franko

Čompe s skuto: Potato cooked in August hay, fermented cottage cheese, smoked chocolate

Lamb and crab, pulled Drežnica lamb and crab wrap, lamb broth, egg yolk filled with shiitake broth at Hisa Franko

Lamb and crab: Pulled Drežnica lamb and crab wrap, lamb broth, egg yolk filled with shiitake broth

Trout, whey, poppy seeds, beetroot, ground ivy, and watercress at Hisa Franko

Trout, whey, poppy seeds, beetroot, ground ivy, and watercress 

Trout belly glazed with pear and tonka butter, buttermilk, bitter chicory, pumpkin oil at Hisa Franko

Trout belly glazed with pear and tonka butter, buttermilk, bitter chicory, pumpkin oil

Tripe, pit cheese fondue, salad of white asparagus, fried nettles and fava beans at Hisa Franko

Tripe, pit cheese fondue, salad of white asparagus, fried nettles and fava beans 

Selection of Tolminc cheeses with matching chutneys at Hisa Franko

Tolminc cheeses with matching chutneys 

Bovec sheep cheese, chestnut honey emulsion, red cabbage chutney, cinnamon puff at Hisa Franko

Bovec sheep cheese: Chestnut honey emulsion, red cabbage chutney, cinnamon puff 

Kobariški štruklji, parsnip, apple walnut and pork crackling dumpling glazed with pork fat Smoked pork creme brûlée, sun dried plums, horseradish at Hisa Franko

Revolution of Kobariški štruklji: Parsnip, apple walnut and pork crackling dumpling glazed with pork fat

Smoked pork creme brûlée, sun-dried plums, horseradish 

SWEET BITES

Whey and walnuts, Whey and cardamom, hazelnuts, Rosehip bonbon, Confited kumquat, Kumparička goat cheese, goat caramel at Hisa Franko

Whey and walnuts

Whey and cardamom, hazelnuts

Rosehip bonbon

Confited kumquat, Kumparička goat cheese, goat caramel 

Wine Pairings at Hisa Franko

One of the many things that make Hisa Franko unique is that it is run by a husband and wife team. Ana runs the kitchen, and Valter is a sommelier who oversees all the wine pairings with Ana’s dishes.

You will have the option of adding the wine pairing when dining at Hisa Franko, which I highly suggest.

Valter was actually one of the first Slovenian sommeliers. Most of his wine cellar consists of natural or biodynamic Slovenian wine and includes some pretty rare vintages.  The crazier, the better!

We actually had the chance to meet several of these natural local winemakers during our 2-Day Slovenia wine country tour.

According to Valter, “I have fun with the crazy. I think my body really responds well to those kinds of wines. They are great for digestion, great for a body cleanse, they don’t make me nervous as opposed to conventional wines.”

His wine pairing choices were a lovely complement to Ana’s amazing culinary creations.

Wine Pairings at Hisa Franko

Wine Pairings at Hisa Franko

Bonus Surprise!

Normally, once you finish your meal at a fine dining restaurant and have your nightcap or coffee, that is the end of the night.

Not at Hisa Franko!

After your meal, they personally invite you into their kitchen where all the culinary magic happens and give you a tour of Valter’s cheese and wine cellar. Talk about personal and feeling welcomed!

Hisa Franko Kitchen

Hisa Franko Kitchen

CHEESE CELLAR AT HISA FRANKO

Tolminc cheese is the famous hard cow’s milk cheese in Slovenia. It obtained the protected designation of origin status (PDO) in 2001. It is sweet at first and becomes more rich and spicy with aging. Valter ages the Tolminc cheese for up to 5 years in his cellar. 

Aged Tolminc cheese at Hisa Franko

Aged Tolminc cheese in the cellar 

WINE CELLAR AT HISA FRANKO

Valter has an incredible wine cellar of local Slovenian wines. Alen, the sommelier, gave us a tour of his collection. We saw a few familiar names including Burja, which we had visited earlier on during our Slovenian wine tour. They produce an incredible pinot noir.

Wine Cellar at Hisa Franko

Wine cellar 

Burja wine at the wine cellar at Hisa Franko

Burja wine in the wine cellar

DON’T MISS: I am disappointed I did not know this until after I got back from our trip, but Valter actually owns another restaurant right in town called Hisa Polonka

It is a casual tavern that offers traditional Slovenian cuisine. A lot of the dishes are from old family recipes like Valter’s mom’s English-style roast beef. I have heard it is also well-known for having the best Kobariski struklji (sweet dumplings with walnuts and raisins)! 

INCREDIBLY THOUGHTFUL TAKE HOME GIFT 

Ana has chefs from all around the world who come to learn and cook in her kitchen. One of her amazing team members is head baker, Nataša Djuric. We absolutely loved the sourdough bread course during our meal. When Nataša found out how much we loved her bread, she personally gave us a loaf to take home. Wow, talk about hospitality!

Natasa's sourdough bread at Hisa Franko

We got a personal loaf of Nataša’s sourdough bread. So delicious! Love freshly baked bread

HIGHLIGHT OF THE EVENING: MEETING ANA ROS IN PERSON

I was not expecting to meet the talented chef face to face. For her to take the time out of her very busy evening to greet her guests was incredibly kind. I definitely geeked out according to my husband when she walked up to us after the meal. 

How to Secure a Reservation

Dinner reservations are available Wednesday – Sunday, and lunch on Saturday-Sunday.

We made a reservation 2 months in advance, but that was before Hisa Franko received 2 Michelin stars. Now, I would anticipate you may even have to book out further than that.

They now have an easy-to-use online reservation booking system. If you choose to stay at the property, you can also request a dinner reservation + room.

Cost

Tasting Menu: 225 euros per person

Wine Pairing: 140 euros per person

Where to Stay When Dining at Hisa Franko

1. On-site at Hisa Franko

This was our first choice, but unfortunately they were already booked when we made our dinner reservation.

2. Nebesa Chalets

This accommodation is owned by Ana’s parents and sister. If we were staying more than 1 night, we would have definitely booked this accommodation! The chalets overlooking the Soca Valley are stunning.

3. ecoHouse Furlan

An adorable apartment, but there is a minimum night stay (2-5 nights depending on the season).

4. Apartment Zonir (walking distance to Hisa Franko) 

We were originally booked at Apartment Zonir, but the Airbnb host had to move us to another apartment at the last minute due to a plumbing issue. Because of the inconvenience, the host did drive us to/from Hisa Franko at no charge.

Our replacement apartment was adequate and clean but not anything special. 

Final Thoughts

Slovenia is a special place. If it were not for Ana Roš and her amazing sustainable restaurant Hisa Franko, I would have never discovered this absolutely beautiful country. She is truly an ambassador for Slovenia and has now put it on the gastronomic map. 

Please watch season 2 of Netflix Chef’s Table, and before you know it you will be booking that next flight to Slovenia! 

If you need help discovering what other amazing things to see and eat in Slovenia, check out my Slovenia itinerary

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Have you had a chance to eat at this most amazing restaurant ever! 

Let me know in the comments below!

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