Valentine's Day is fast approaching once again, and although some may brush it off as yet another American capitalism driven perversion of sacred Catholic tradition, its roots as a romantic holiday actually date back to a fellow called Geoffrey Chaucer, aka the author of the Canterbury Tales and the father of English literature.
However, regardless of history, religion, facts and other such inconveniences, at the end of the day the 14th of February represents an opportunity (or perhaps an obligation depending upon whom one speaks to) for men to show their wives, girlfriends, partners, mistresses and/or long-time crushes that they do in fact understand what it means to be romantic.
While we won't even pretend to be capable of offering any sage advice in this department, we have compiled a list of Ljubljana's Top 10 most romantic restaurants for those still looking for an appropriate venue at which to wine-and-dine their special someone in the near future. Please also note, that in order to avoid the pressure of deciding exact rankings, the locations below have been listed alphabetically.
The centrally-located Chuty's offers some of Ljubljana's best Asian cuisine in a modern, upscale setting, and just inside the door an aquarium of fresh lobsters and oysters greets guests. The majority of the dishes on the menu are Thai, including venerable favourites such as Pad Thai and Tom Yum soup, and their authenticity is assured by the fact that the entire cooking staff is from Thailand. Non-Thai dishes, like Kamchatka crab, Black Angus ribeye and tuna steaks, are prepared with pan-Asian flavours and homemade sauces, while the quality of the wine list is no surprise given that two-time Slovenian Sommelier of the Year Gašper Čarman helped put it together. The possibility of late night dining is also a rarity in Ljubljana and much appreciated.
2. Hiša Kulinarike Manna
Set in a colourful little house on one of Ljubljana's prettiest (and most overlooked) streets, Manna offers a divine selection of contemporary Slovene cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Meals are complimented with some tasty homemade desserts and large choice of both Slovene and foreign wines, as well as a sophisticated selection of spirits (aged rums, cognacs and whiskeys) and cigars for after dinner.
3. Hotel Cubo Restaurant
For fine modern dining right in the heart of the city centre, look no further than the ground floor of Hotel Cubo. Just steps away from some of Ljubljana's top cultural venues (Cankarjev Dom, Drama Theatre and the Slovenian Philharmonic) Cubo is a popular choice for a pre- or post-performance dinner.
A tasteful Baroque-look interior with lots of gilded mirrors, distressed white furniture and some extraordinary blue and white tiles on the wall at the back, the fine international menu is packed with interesting food including octopus, pasta in many shapes and sizes and an impressive dessert menu. The wine list is also worth a mention, boasting a range of good value and painfully expensive bottles from home and abroad.
Mirje combines a sleek, contemporary ambiance with quality traditional Italian cuisine at reasonable prices. The soft lighting, beige walls and futuristic mirrored light fixtures create a pleasant setting to savour the outstanding dishes, such as succulent steaks from the Green Egg grill, a wide selection of fresh handmade pastas, superb salads and piping hot pizzas from the wood-fired oven. There's also a large outdoor seating area, which is covered in the colder months and plays host to an open grill in the summer. Located just across the street from the Tobačna Mesto cultural and business centre, a few minutes' walk from the old town will get you here.
Set along the beautifully redeveloped Breg riverside walk in the old town, Namasté is the longest running Indian restaurant in all of Slovenia, and offers one of Ljubljana's most romantic dining experiences of any flavour - with soft yellow hued lighting, hand-painted walls and a relaxed cosy atmosphere. The house specialties are dishes from the Rajastan and Punjab regions, which are prepared individually with spices directly imported from the subcontinent and can be ordered mild to extra hot.
Just outside the ring road in Vič, Ošterija Pr’ Noni is an elegant oasis set beside a stream offering one of Ljubljana’s most delightful dining experiences. Pr’ Noni’s popularity (pays to book ahead) also rests on its delicious Mediterranean cuisine featuring excellent seasonal ingredients, fresh local seafood and perfectly grilled meats as well as one of Ljubljana’s best wine lists. Despite its incredibly classy feel, the service is friendly and it’s refreshingly unpretentious, offering actually very good value menus - especially, the early light lunches (malice in Slovene), more substantial 3-5 course lunch menus and traditional weekend lunches.
Great value Asian food in a quiet, side street location. Head out back to the covered garden and order any of the tremendous stir fries, though do not forego the starters: tempura made with shrimps make great nibbles. There is plenty for vegetarians on the menu (not always the case in these parts).
Perched high up in the archer's tower, Ljubljana castle's new restaurant overlooks the city from a grand position. A combination of the Roman Emona, Medieval and modern in terms of both cuisine and ambiance, the menu was created with the help of top ethnology professor Dr Janez Bogataj.
An exceedingly classy affair with chunky, creaking wooden floors, a number of different rustic-feel rooms to eat in, an extensive menu of Slovenian and international dishes, and an antique silver cash register in the entrance. Located on one of the old town's quaintest most photogenic streets, it's popular with many people including business professionals, tourists and couples. During the summer months they have one of the most romantic courtyards in Ljubljana
Other Romantic Recommendations.....
Gostilna na Gradu
Decidedly upmarket in appearance and service, the prices are surprisingly modest - especially given the truly unique location and dining experience that goes along with it. Na Gradu's award-winning chefs pride themselves on the expert preparation of Slovenia's diverse range of traditional dishes.
This restaurant on the 10th floor of the Nebotičnik building looks like something out of New York in the 1920s (or at least films set in New York in the 1920s). A wooden spiral staircase leads down to the large dining area which has been completely restored from the stone floors to the high recessed ceilings, including furniture custom-designed in the style of the 80 year-old originals.