The Column with Simone B. Michielen: Fun with vouchers! A hidden gem …

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It was about time again to spend one of my “COVID-19” vouchers and after meeting Andrej Smogavc on several locations where he always asked me when I would come and visit his restaurant Grič in Slovenske Konjice, I made a reservation on a beautiful sunny day. Not necessary for a nice time at Gostilna Grič, but as they have a beautiful terrace it doesn’t hurt either.

The idea of buying the vouchers during our lockdown was such a good one! Especially because I forgot by now that I paid for them, so going for lunch with one of them is like a present to myself. Love that.

So, on this sunny Wednesday, we went up to the vineyards, passing the golf course and arrived at the restaurant. What a warm welcome! And what a beautiful view we had from our table which was made with bright white linen, always a feeling of luxury. Andrej made some time to welcome his guests personally and stayed in touch with all of us. I like that, as you know by now. I also liked the food, a lot! Starting with a delicious pate in a crust served in a light horseradish soup, raw trout in a very delicate combination with cucumber, perfect mushroom soup (nice traditional touch!), zander filet with a perfect ravioli followed by a plate with a rouleau of rabbit that looked a little like a serious accident happened, but tasted exactly right. Delicious lamb with Jerusalem artichoke, a fresh amuse-bouche for the dessert and the final, a dessert with blackberry. Served with mostly local wines, of course.

Wow! My favorite was the trout, but I have to admit that everything was made to my taste. Of course, it was not, but it could have been.

Every single dish was a delight, for my eyes and my tongue. This young chef learned from one of my other favourites in our neighborhood, but he definitely left the nest and knows how to fly!

I don’t know why he is not yet mentioned in the first round of the Michelin guide or why Gault Millau rates him with only 12,5 points out of 20. Too young? Not on his own feet long enough yet? I can just tell you that this young guy cooked the best food I had in Slovenia in months. This is a star in the making and you better go there fast, as I can only imagine how hard it will be to get a table in the future. Prices, more than reasonable. Easy to travel to, close to the high way, a beautiful environment and with the Zlati Grič wine cellar within walking distance. Nothing more to wish for.

I am already excited about my next visit, as he can count me in as a regular now. It will be hard to top this experience, but if he does… WOW! For now, Andrej and his staff proved to me that the future of culinary Slovenia is guaranteed.

www.gostilna-gric.si