I had the best meal of my trip this evening here in Ljubljana. I’d walked past a little hole-in-the-wall place with a sign that read “home cooking” several times since yesterday, so tonight I walked in. I don’t even know the name of the place.
With the exception of the sushi restaurant in London, the service at most the places I’ve eaten on this trip can be ranked on a scale from poor to completely indifferent. This place was definitely at the latter end. The restaurant appeared to be a family affair, and my waitress, who was probably about 15 years old, seemed like she’d rather be anywhere but at work.
There was no menu. Indifferent girl waitress came over to my table and announced, “Everything comes with potatoes. All potatoes. So what do you want … meat, fish, vegetables?” I wish I could convey the accent in writing.
“Meat,” I said.
“Roast beef or beef?” she asked.
“Uh, beef, I guess.”
“Will you drink beer or wine?”
“Light, dark, or mixed?”
“Hmm … Dark, I suppose.”
After the interview, she left. I had no idea what I was going to get, other than beef, potatoes, and dark beer. I also had no idea what it was going to cost. Prices being what they are here, the former worried me more than the latter.
The beer arrived first, and it was very good, setting my mind at ease a bit. A few minutes later, the waitress put a plate in front on me. It did not have any meat on it, so I was a little confused. “This is to taste,” she said. I think that meant it was an appetizer. It was, I think, eggplant with olive oil and crushed garlic. Whatever it was, it was good. My worries were subsiding.
A while later, my main dish arrived. It was very pretty. My worries were almost gone. It was a steak with potatoes, and it was garnished with onions, garlic, red and yellow peppers, zucchini, and carrots, all of which were grilled. It was awesome. It was one of the most tender steaks I ever ate. I ate every bite, including all the potatoes and vegetables, and I damn near licked the plate.
The cook came out when I finished and asked me how I enjoyed the steak. Before I paid too high a compliment, I wanted to know where the steak came from. “Western Slovenia,” he proudly told me. I told him it was one of the best steaks I’d ever had. He seemed quite pleased, and he came back a few minutes later to pour me a glass of some very strong liqueur that he called “our medicine”. It tasted a little like Jaegermeister. He only poured me about an ounce, but it did have an effect!
After I finished my coffee, the bill arrived. With the exception of the beer and the coffee, I had no idea what all the individual items were, but the total came to 4,670 tolarjev, which is about $25. My final worry vanished.