Finally, things are normalising, and restaurants are reopening. It’s actually with absolute joy we follow the industry’s opening, so neglected and forgotten during the crazy Covid-19 times … And let’s not forget, Slovenia is this year’s European region of gastronomy.
We managed to sneak to Brda in the pre-Giro d’Italia day, and guys, hats down to how nicely you’ve arranged the landscape. I can’t wait to see cyclists pass these picturesque slopes!
But to me and my better half, Teja, this was also the day we returned to where we got married. To the castle of Dobrovo, where last year Divina restaurant restarted the gastronomic story there. Primož Bajt, a young chef, took over the place, and he’s stirring the restaurant’s direction to the next level.
You can have tasting menus of four, six or eight courses, and Primož is also the one picking wines that go with dishes. The wine list focuses on wines from Brda, combining different styles and offering access to the de Baguer wine cellar and some of the Klet Brda’s archive selections. The staff is super friendly and well informed on the provenance of the ingredients.
After sitting, we’re immediately offered a glass of Erzetič Sentio sparkles, and for hors d’oeuvre, a bite of fritule with green olives made with home sourdough, just enough to get our stomach juices flowing. At the same time, their staff cuts slices of homemade bread, and we’re introduced to local olive oils.
The first dish is served, prawn tartare with organic strawberries, crispy mint leaf, lemon mouse and blown butter with squid ink brittle. A refreshing and delicate dish served with Erzetič’s fresh rebula.
Moving on with the second course. Spiny lobster with almond mousse and crumble, garlic-infused ring and fried asparagus tips. Accompanied with Rokovi vinogradi’s Chardonnay Premium. What a lovely journey of flavours, the sea was meeting almond, salty and sweet with gentle garlic and crispiness were playing in the mouth, and then the buttery feel of the Chardonnay. Such a lovely combination.
Following was a dish to indulge. Prawn tails in the form of spaghetti served over concentrated, candied cherry tomatoes. All of this was hidden over a web made with Kramar’s mountain cheese and poured with lemon-infused olive oil. Patrick chose Patrick Simčič’s Moja, a version of macerated Rebula, to accompany this dish, which played nicely overall. Looking behind the looks flavour and texturewise, it combined in a balanced symphony of flavours, nicely elevated by the full-bodied expression of Rebula.
Finally, the time has come for all lovers of meat. Prussian beef with enokitake mushrooms, asparagus sponge-cake and enokitake sauce. For this dish, Primož chose Fana’s Chardonnay which did extensive maceration and oak ageing. A superb rendition of this variety, which, however, got a bit lost in the complexity of the dish.
Pork was the star of the final course. Sous vide and gently baked, served over a pillow of smoked carrot and potato purée with crispy fried leek. Ah, what a prelibacy! The pork was literally melting with a lovely touch of smokiness which was significantly elevated by the wine. This time perfectly matched by Klet Brda’s de Baguer red.
They say a meal isn’t complete without dessert, and here it was served in a trio of chocolate. Gentle chocolate sponge with black and white chocolate ganache, forest berries and organic strawberries. An irresistible dish for chocolate freaks. I loved it as it was not too decadent, and there was a touch of saltiness that nicely elevated flavours. Sosolič’s Julija, a Vin de Paille expression of Yellow Muscat.
Divina is a much-needed addition to the eno-gastronomic offerings of Brda. A restaurant like this was missing, especially in the majestic castle of Dobrovo. Primož is talented, and the staff willing and thirsty to present you with their offering. And you have to look at their extensive wine list, focusing on a broad selection of local wines. Speaking of price, a six-course menu will cost you 48 Eur (beverages excluded), so you be the judge next time you’re in Brda.