Hisa Franko: Full Review of a Restaurant Worth Planning a Vacation Around
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 #34 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Hisa Franko also earned 2 well-deserved Michelin stars. I am excited to bring you along on our culinary journey at this truly special restaurant. Bon appétit.
Backstory Behind Hisa Franko
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.”
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
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.
Green pea and chickweed salad, smoked bone marrow, strawberry seed oil
One bite of “Kalamari na zaru,” smoked pit cheese
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
Spelt and whey sour bread and cultured butter with bee pollen
Silver mussel: Mussel, bitter orange, charcoal-grilled green asparagus
Cuttlefish lard: fried bread soaked in white asparagus milk, pine nuts, ransom sprouts
Baby veal consommé: Celeriac, mountain baby veal, lovage oil, linden leaves
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
Trout, whey, poppy seeds, beetroot, ground ivy, and watercress
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
Tolminc cheeses with matching chutneys
Bovec sheep cheese: Chestnut honey emulsion, red cabbage chutney, cinnamon puff
Revolution of Kobariški štruklji: Parsnip, apple walnut and pork crackling dumpling glazed with pork fat
Smoked pork creme brûlée, sun-dried plums, horseradish
Whey and walnuts
Whey and cardamom, hazelnuts
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 wine tour with Winestronaut.
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
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
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 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.
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!
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 and lunch reservations are available Thursday – 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.
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.
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.
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, don’t miss my full itinerary below.
Questions about our most amazing dining experience ever?
Let me know in the comments below!