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by scratchy cat
gloucester, United Kingdom
December 12, 2006
From journal Weekend in Ljubljana
Newcastle upon Tyne, England, United Kingdom
June 22, 2005
A gostilna is a traditional Slovene inn, and the cavernous restaurant has been designed in that style (think Bavarian and you're getting there). The place is full of nooks and crannies, so while it can be quite noisy when its busy, you can get some privacy.
The fare is traditional Slovene, with a heavy emphasis on meat, especially game - the game platter, which includes venison and wild boar, is great and comes with buckwheat pancakes and a delicious fruity relish. The squid, too, is very good, and my partner rated it very highly. Vegetarians, nevertheless, will be able to find something, although the choice is more limited. A must is the warming onion soup served in a hollowed crusty bread bun.
Service is good, and most of the (mainly young) staff speaks English; the menu is available in several languages.
Sokol is open from around 9am, so it is a good place for breakfast if you don't want pastries (as most places offer). They do a mean scrambled egg with wild mushrooms.
While Sokol is not cheap, the portions are generous, the choice broad, and the food excellent. It is by no means the most expensive place in the city, and it is worth a visit, because there are not many traditional joints in the city centre.
Where to eat in Ljubljana
by Owen Lipsett
New York, New York
May 28, 2005
Sokol doesn’t just mean hawk in Slovene (hence the large metal bird by the entrance). It also refers to a society that advocated Slovene rights and culture under Hapsburg rule, whose members included the architect Jože Plečnik, Ljubljana’s most famous son. While the setting can’t compare with Plečnik’s masterpieces, the inn-like downstairs dining room covered in paintings depicting characters from Slovene folklore is quite atmospheric nonetheless. The cramped upstairs balcony is a little too authentic for some guests (myself among them!)
Once ensconced in either locale, I’d recommend asking your server’s advice regarding what to order unless something particularly strikes your fancy. I found the wait staff consistently helpful and friendly. Among other things, they’re particularly helpful in suggesting the side dishes to order with some of the more unusual Slovene main courses, as well as cautioning you as to which ones are most filling, which is not readily obvious from the menu descriptions. In any case, they’ll invariably recommend you leave room for the gibanica, the multi-flavored sweet pie from Prekmurje (northern Slovenia) that is the closest thing the country has to a national dish, a suggestion I’d certainly repeat to you.
My personal favorite dish is the grilled squid stuffed with karstic ham and cheese (from Slovenia’s tiny Istrian coast), although on both visits when I tried their excellent stews, I left barely able to eat much more (fortunately, having been warned this would be the case!). I’d caution you against trying the venison with berries, as when I sampled it, the tasty sweet sauce couldn’t quite hide the fact that the meat itself was rather dry and overcooked. While the various meat platters tend to be relatively expensive, by Slovene standards, and bereft of significant vegetable garnishes, several avid carnivores with whom I spoke expressed their great delight with them, so I feel confident seconding their recommendation.
Sokol is neither the best value restaurant in central Ljubljana (which boasts a surprisingly interesting dining scene for such a small city) nor the most renowned, but it’s unbeatable for an introduction to Slovene food, and for this reason, I’d heartily recommend it (provided you have an equally hearty appetite, of course!)
http://www.gostilna-sokol.com (Slovene only)
From journal The Discreet Charms of Ljubljana