Ljubljana offers a lot of flavourful places, places where your taste and thirst can be attanded in due manner, and TaBar is one of those where you’ll get spoiled in many ways. Tucked away in a small shady square in the straight city center it offers bites of all kinds of flavours. But, don’t let the name fool you, as these are not just bites, but plates that any famed bistro out there wouldn’t mind serving at its table.
And this is no surprise, as the chef is none other than Jakob Pintar, the only Slovenian finalist at San Pellegrino’s Young Chef competition. A 29-year old chef, who crafted its skills at the likes of Gordon Ramsay (Maze), Joel Robuchon (L`atelier de Joel Robuchon) and Heinz Reitbauer (Steirereck).
The menu focues on combining best Slovenian ingredients with influences from our neighbouring countries and uplifting them into a modern style. It features also a selection of cold meet cuts by Cigoj and BioSing, and a selection of cheese by Orešnik, Zidarič and Valter Kramar of Hiša Franko. Full of character, as their wine list that features wines marked by a longer maceration most of them from bio or even biodynamic production.
Their dishies come cold, warm and there’s also some for your sweet tooth. If you don’t know what to pick, you can even let the chef make the choice. You have the option of going for a 4 or 5 course “TaIzbor (TaSelection)” and this is what we did.
A cold overture
We decided to start with Cigoj’s prosciutto and mixed cheese. Boy what a delight, the prosciutto was melting in our mouths! Cheese instead came in a marvelous company of roasted hazelnuts and apple. Teja, my dear wife, decided to start with Marko Fon‘s lovely Malvazija 2016. A plateau of flavours that prepared us for our next course.
Lettuce, peas and chickpeas was our next plate. A wonderful palette of colours, but also a refreshing and light plate which packed both citrusy flavours and hidden in between crunchy cracklings, layed on a humus bed. Next to it beef tatar, hidden under a crust of salt and spicy pepper, topped with a refreshing lettuce covered with red pepper. A refreshing coutnerballance to the umami packed tatar which showed hints of smokiness in it.
A warm symphony
This time we chose Reia‘s Chardonnay 2009, a mature buttery-styled and full bodied Chardonnay with a persistent character. The chef’s decision was to serve us it’s rabbit, ash, horse radish and overhead kohlrabi and as second warm dish a deep fried Portobello mushroom with egg yolk and spinach. Another journey of flavours on one hand strong as the rabbit terrine was topped by pickled olive leaves and laid on a bed of overhead kohlrabi floating in a cold, horse radish soup with a strong tendency to the sweet part. And the Portobello mushroom, crackling, flavourfull as it was the sauce of egg yolk and dried forest berries. Somewhere in between this rhapsody of flavours my glass got filled with Brandulin’s Rebula 2011. Amber colours displayed intense aromas of oak and dried fruit with an intense and lasting palate …
An amoroso finish
Strawberries, chocolate and cream … Ah yes, this just calls for “amore”, no wonder I was in such lovely company! Sautéed strawberries are laid on a bed of ganache, chocolate puff pastry and sweet cream reduction. Topped with mint leaves and a spoonful of sumac. It simply vanished from our plate!
A lusigando thought
With the help of Jakob Pintar, TaBar reinvents the concept of tapas, transforming them into modern, umami packed signature dishes. This is all we ate and we were pretty much satiated at the end. It’s all about big, bald flavours packed in elegant styled dishes. My only restraint is about some of the wines on the list, as a few are of questionable quality – but only a few. What we paid? A total of 78,00 EUR which is well worth it. TaBar is a place where we’ll be gladly returnig in the future!
TaBar is also featured in this year’s edition of Gault & Millau guide.