Welcome to one of the most recent addition to the up and coming Ljubljana dining scene! Sveti Florijan is one of a kind, as it as actually more than a restaurant. The creators have given a lot of thought into this multi-area venue where one can come to spend time at the wine bar featuring an eclectic selection of wines, 95% of them being “natural”, with basically no additives. Many of them are Slovenian, but shelves make place to some bottles from neighboring Italy, Austria and Croatia. If you feel in love with one of them, you can buy a bottle to take home along with a few goodies, the space serving as a wine shop as well as a delicatessen. Latecomers may bypass the bar area and head downstairs to what appears as a cozy jazz and cocktail nightclub, with a little scene for musicians to perform on given nights. Early and latecomers alike would really miss big if they were to bypass the restaurant which occupies the largest part of the ground floor, across from the wine bar. The atmosphere is warm and inviting.: small tables are an invitation to a romantic tête à tête, while larger ones welcome groups of friends wanting to spend an intimate, joyful moment. Cleverly, the choices are limited, so diners don’t spend hours picking, but are invited to jump in and have the party begin. The weekly wine list is composed of 6 references and the menu limited to 15 dishes, including desserts. It feels more like a homey private club than a restaurant per say.
The order was taken by a hip young man who appears more like a warm and friendly adviser than a waiter per say and the dishes are brought to your table by kitchen crew members, in our case the chef Matija Kostanjevac in command that night.
This absence of formal separations between front and back of the house gives a fluid sense of true hospitality.
We started off with the daily amuse-bouche made of a crisp chip, tender smoked trout and a touch of cool homemade sour cream. A perfect match with the 2016 Cattunar malvazija crisp white wine.
Another seafood appetizer came in the form of a tuna tartare mixed with a few diced strawberries, deftly seasoned with a hint of curry and the acidity of buddha’s hand citrus. Early on, you realize there is a lot of thinking going behind each creation, but one can also feel emotion and personality being involved here.
The rabbit pâté came to the table and revealed itself to be a homemade mousse of hare liver, sweetened by onion, butter and apricot. Lovely on great bread, no fuss, just great flavor. The slow cooked octopus with buckwheat, squid ink and tomato ragu was also a dish expressing heartfelt cooking, rather than any form of cerebral creativity.
The sweet touch came in the form of a sheep’s yogurt with white chocolate and raspberries, almonds and a dash of cardamom, a symphony of color, texture and flavor without unnecessary complication. Elegant, yet relaxed, thought through, yet soulful,Sveti Florijan has a truly unique offering in town. One feels that, from one evening to the other, it could be a totally different experience and it’s probably the case because, each patron here is left free to shape his evening as he sees fit.
A CHAT WITH THE CHEF
Matija, where have you previously working?
Many different venues in different European cities, including a long period in Berlin.
How would you define your cuisine?
I would say contemporary European Slovenian, you will find different influences, from Austria to Italy, Croatia, Hungary. I like to mix the real fresh products that I found in the Ljubljana market to European accents, creating a contemporary Slovenian menu.
You left the kitchen to chat with us, is that common?
Yes, I like to interact with the costumers, and, time permitting, seat at their table, perhaps have a glass of vine with them.
The most popular dishes here at Sveti Florijan?
The octopus or the beef tartare.
If you were invited as chef guest at the TV Master, what would you prepare?
(smiling) I would snob the event, and serve a hot dog or fish and chips…
What always in your refrigerator?
Some bottles of Union beer and A bottle of Swedish Hernö gin!
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