IPA Magazine-Luxury Travel Reviews

Julijana Restaurant in the Grand Hotel Toplice

Here is a place for exquisite gastronomy, at an exclusive location and with exceptional ambience.  The romantic views of the lake and the castle are picturesque, and the gourmet delicacies on the menu are impressive.  This intimate restaurant is rather small for such a hotel, perhaps accommodating only 20 people. While that means getting in can be difficult, we found no such trouble on the evening of our visit.   That was a bit surprising as the Julijana Restaurant has attracted celebrities such as Donald Trump, Prince Charles and Matthew Perry, as well as a number of other presidents and royal family members.

We were seated at a table overlooking Lake Bled by our server and sommelier for the evening, Mr. Nenad Dolnicar.  With each course, our server introduced the various dishes and wine pairings in a thorough, professional manner.  His education as a 2nd degree sommelier was evident as he patiently answered our questions about each wine and its origin.

Our degustation menu consisted of four courses with wine pairings.  An amuse bouche of an oyster and homemade bread with walnuts was brought on a plate along with a whipped blend of cottage cheese and pumpkin oil from the Maribor area.  Our server explained that roasted pumpkin seeds were pressed to make this unique oil, believed to be better than olive oil.  It is becoming increasingly popular in Austria, he said.  Some have even used the oil to serve with vanilla ice cream.

Our first course was a terrine of fresh vegetables served with aged balsamic vinegar, basil and buffalo mozzarella. The diced vegetables were wrapped in a thin slice of zucchini.  A refreshing glass of 2016 Tilia Sivi Pinot wine (Pinot Gris) from the Vipava region was poured for each of us.  Vipava valley is an agricultural area in western Slovenia known for its wine production. This recent vintage was fresh with notes of pear, green apple and lemon.  Tilia is a private vintner owned by the family of Melita and Matjaž Lemut, both University trained vintners and enologists. The vineyards are located in Slovenia´s south-western Vipava Valley, about 70 miles from Venice.  Established in 1994, it launched its first vintage in 1996. The name Tilia is Latin name for the linden tree that grows on the estate. Its total annual production is 3,700 cases.

Our second course was risotto with fresh langoustines, octopus and seared scallop.  This tasty dish was accompanied by a 2012 Bagueri Chardonnay from Goriska Brda, another important wine producing area in western Slovenia.  At 14.5% alcohol, this bold Chardonnay paired well with the medley of seafood selections. In the 57th International Wine Competition, “Vino Ljubljana” held in 2015, in the category of white dry wines the title went to Chardonnay Bagueri from the Goriška Brda wine cellar.

The third course was a slow-cooked and very tender veal shank, served with homemade pumpkin gnocchi and glazed root vegetables in a Perigueux sauce.  This classic Perigueux, a brown sauce from southwestern France, was made with black truffles and Madeira wine.  It was paired with a 2011 Benedict Red from Dveri Pax.  The cuvée of Blau Frankish, Pinot Noir and Zweigeld grapes was both hearty and smooth with a light spiciness.  This ruby red blend has a fruity cherry bouquet and a hint of herbs together with a touch of ripe strawberries.

The dessert of Raspberry cake with white chocolate, Caribbean ice cream and caramel sauce with salt was artistically presented by our talented Chef, Mr. Simon Bertoncelj, renowned as one of the finest chefs in Slovenia.  Our dessert was accompanied by a 2015 Rumeni muscat from Rodica.  It was floral, sweet and balanced, a good dessert wine, even for those who may not favor sweet wines. Mr. Bertoncelj introduced himself to us at the end of our meal, visiting with us for a few moments to make sure we were happy with our meal.  We, of course, were both delighted to meet him and to express our thanks for having created a fabulous four-course degustation meal—one of the finest we’ve experienced in recent memory.

Julijana Restaurant
Grand Hotel Toplice
Cesta Svobode 12
Tel: +386 (0)45 79 10 00
Open 19:00-23:00

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