Our Samobor restaurant venue takes us ten minutes by foot westwards of the main square. It´s a tavern styled locale, actually from the outside reminding pretty much of an English pub. But once we walk in, it gives away a very spacious, cooled hall with seating for about fifty people, with an adjunct shadowy, enclosed backyard, where another twenty people can be seated.
The serious waitress takes us just there and immediately asks for our aperitifs. I´m as always in the mood for a nice maraschino, and Jordi, my photographer agrees, though she´s been craving for a glass of cold water. We are told that the lady of the house is busy, but will join us soon. Jordi and I take a seat in the comfy chairs and chat away about all the things we´ve seen for the last couple of hours, sharing our mutual impressions, when suddenly the waitress arrives with the tasty liquids along with a bottle of cold water, followed by a petite, young, woman in a simple, but chic, white dress, who shyly smiles at first, but soon realizes that we are not the judges from Michelin, so the atmosphere eases in seconds.
Anamarija, the great-granddaughter of the establishment´s founder, Gabrijel “Gabrek” Medved, who opened the door to his tavern back in 1929, runs the PR for the family business. She apologizes for her being late, since she had to put her little daughter for a nap. We swiftly become very informal, and the smiling woman, begins her family story, while talking about the menu she had set up for us. Meanwhile, she brings up the restaurant´s entire menu: from deep fried brain to goose liver, white kidneys, wild boar, duck, beef, and of course, from the list of desserts, the forty varieties of crêpes, which are all named after some place or event important to the local community. Our host points out that her kitchen uses only home-grown and fresh ingredients, be it asparagus or mushrooms.
We start with a mushroom cream soup spiced with dried chanterelles, also known as „poor people´s truffles“. The dense soup tastes delicious, and blends well with excellently cooled malvasia. Next is the boar in cranberry sauce with gnocchi. I am stunned with the well prepared game, since it literally mellows on the tongue, but am surprised to find out that we weren´t served a red wine with it. I can´t help, but think about a nice Shiraz I had the pleasure to taste a month ago at another place. Then we are served the Samobor meat chops with potato wedges on rosemary. I am familiar with the dish and it leaves me unimpressed, even more since I was told to try the Gabrek version of it, although our host suggested something else instead. Nonetheless I think the meat sinks in well and the potatoes are really well spiced and baked.
We make a pause here, since our host has to leave for a moment to check on her daughter, and they serve us coffee until the dessert is ready. Ten minutes later we are again together at the table, and are offered a chocolate brownie tart with vanilla ice cream. The tart is made without flour, gluten free of course. I love the spongy taste of chocolate, but find it sad that we weren´t offered any rosé, which would fit this mighty delight well. Then the final – trademark – dessert lands in front of us: the crêpe Samobor; a pancake filled with nuts, covered in chocolate. Again, it´s something I had a chance to try in all its combinations, and can´t help but remember having done it myself many times. I smile at the sight on my plate, recalling how many times it was a comforting food in distress or sad times.
Our friendly host has been sitting with us for over two hours now. And the only thing I really missed in those two hours is – wine. True, they had a rather busy day in the backyard, since all but one table was full, and there was only one waitress serving the whole deck. Anyway, it was a pleasure staying at Gabrek and it was a delight listening to Anamarija and her family history. I hope to see this place in winter next time, when the entire menu changes accordingly to the season. Then I hope to make up for all the wine I wished to try, and enjoy some grilled sausages and pickled cabbage.