The Column with Simone B. Michielen: Four hidden treasures and one disappointment

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As a (former) guide in Slovenia, I thought I almost knew it all. And yes, almost was the word. Last week I went to the head of our chicken-shaped country which would not have been my favorite destination at all, if you would have asked me a few days before. But what a beautiful area it is! Vulcan landscape, hills, beautiful water springs, and an old castle in Grad with over 340 rooms, but only 4 they rent out for guests. Especially when it is closed for visitors it gives you an opportunity to feel as if you own the place. The parts that are still unfinished almost whisper the history and gives at least my imagination wings…

On our way up we were lucky to pass the Steyer winery and we took the opportunity to taste a few while we were there. Unannounced, but very welcome! I don’t drink anymore, at least not even a percentage of what I once drank (I really had enough for 2, to be honest), but for a good glass of white I am happy to make an exception.

We also passed a corner of Austria, but coming back into the country was easy, only an abandoned border control and we were in again. We went around and during our 2 day visit we had the best medica, went into a bee house, tasted delicious honey, went for a great tour with a horse carriage and had a gibanice at the shore of a beautiful lake. Time to go home! But not without lunch… Because I am not very familiar in this region, we were pleasantly surprised to find a known name in a new setting, Uno Rajh. Yes, exactly, THE culinary family in Murska Sobota and surroundings made a great looking restaurant with Italian inspired food on beautiful pictures in the small brochure we found on a desk somewhere. Easy choice, exactly what we needed.

The welcome was very friendly, the menu looked promising. I love carpaccio, the raw dark red beef filet, sliced thin, with some pesto, good olive oil, parmesan, pine and some salad. If only it would have been that way. It was watery, tasteless, the sauce sweet. Not happy. The other dish, fresh tomato soup, also quite tasteless. Heated mashed tomatoes don’t make a soup, especially not an Italian one. We complained and asked for more effort in our second dish, in the hope it would be a lot better.

It wasn’t. The burger was nothing special (but seriously priced) and I ordered the Thai salad. I love shrimps and Asian/Thai tastes like coriander, lime, chili, soy, lemongrass, coconut milk. Wow, what a bad surprise was that. Same kind of sweet mayonnaise sauce as on the carpaccio, standard sweet chili sauce, mango, two slices of lemon, shrimps, and a lot of green salad. Maybe I made the wrong choice, but when it is on the menu and you call it Thai… serve it!

What surprises me most is the incapacity of the staff to deal with a serious complaint about what is served. I know it is difficult, I also worked in hospitality and had a restaurant, but a little more reaction than “okay, I’m sorry to hear that” would have been nice! We were not after any compensation, it was not about not wanting to pay the bill, it was just about expecting a certain quality in a restaurant like this. Not too much to ask, I guess.

Come on, guys! Slovenia is on the culinary map, even a European culinary destination next year. Let it not be a disappointment for our visitors…

As they say it so very well in French: NOBLESSE OBLIGE