How many gourmet restaurants can you visit in a week? For me the answer to this question is some correlation of the available time, budget and a certain physical fitness in form of a sustained appetite (because no matter how small and elaborate portions seem you always end up full in the end).
But what if costs were not part of the equation? What if for a prize of an appetiser you would get a three-course meal? How many could you do then? And more importantly, how would you choose? Welcome to the sweet dilemmas of the Restaurant Week in Slovenia.
86 restaurants serving 3-course menus at 16 eur each
Restaurant Week is the largest nationwide culinary event in Slovenia. Participating restaurants are carefully selected by two acclaimed food critics who have the tough job of eating at a different fine dining place every week. Only the restaurants getting at least four out of five stars in their weekly Sunday paper column are invited to join the event. And they have to agree to the terms of serving a full three-course meal at the price of 16 eur.
This may not be enough to cover the costs of high quality ingredients featured on many of the menus. But most of the chefs are eager to participate and showcase their cuisine to gourmets and casual diners who normally wouldn’t set a foot into their restaurant. So expect inventive dishes like “crispy veal and venison filet, pumpkin soufflé on a bed of parsley crème with nuts and herb sauce” that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Follow the highlights – there will be a restaurant to match
Now the tough job is on you. How do you pick the places where to send your taste buds on a roller coaster ride? Relax. No matter if you are choosing by the menus that appeal to you most or search only for the best looking chefs – you can’t really go wrong. Alternatively, you could combine your gourmet discovery with a tour of the highlights of Slovenia. Visiting Lake Bled? Don’t miss the intimate Julijana restaurant at the traditional Grand Hotel Toplice or Vila Podvin on route from Ljubljana. Heading to the coast? Try the Casa Nostromo in Piran or Hiša Torkla with the view of the vineyards instead of the sea. Dying to see the emerald green Soca river? Stop in Nova Gorica for the creations of chef Uroš at the Dam restaurant. You get the point – pick any destination and for sure there’s a restaurant worthy of visit less than half an hour drive away.
“Where do I sign up?”
You can book your table directly with each participating restaurant. In theory, that is, because after the second year running Slovenian foodies have learnt to anticipate the event and start booking as soon as the website is online. So getting a table usually turns out to be a greater problem than deciding which restaurants to try. If you don’t have a seat yet, you’ve already missed this year’s spring week, which will run until 20 March. Instead, you can start planning for the autumn term. The dates have not been set yet but it will likely be some time in November. And I hope that the organizers decide to offer the website in English too, making the event more available to guests from abroad.