You can’t miss it – Hotel Frankopan is situated next to the old Frankopan fort, the main sight of Ogulin. It is a renovated 18th century building, once used for the administrative affairs. It is famous for its urban architecture, historical importance, recreational and relaxation tourism, as a congress centre, but we came in Frankopan out of only one reason – its gastronomy.
We knew something good is going on in Frankopan, as we saw it was awarded as one of hundred best Croatian restaurants in the past three years. And while our expectations were high, but obviously not high enough for the dinner we had.
The staff was very thoughtful of our arrival. As they knew we are doing gastronomy story of Ogulin, they’ve presumed we will have lots of game dishes around. Thus, they prepared us with another traditional side of the region’s cuisine. Apart from that, they were tentative and caring, although they had 150 guests celebrating some firefighter’s anniversary, and sudden arrival of a tourist bus full of Korean visitors. It was good news for us, because we were placed in absolutely beautiful wine cellar, preserved in its authentic design.
Our culinary journey was intended to be a mix of influences in Ogulin valley. It is really an unique combination of the Gorski kotar and Lika gastronomy traditions, and we were introduced to it by devoted staff of Frankopan Restaurant. The appetizer and main course were Lika-based, while the dessert resembles Gorski kotar tradition.
We began with škripavac cheese au gratin, wrapped in homemade bacon. The famous Lika Škripavac is signature cheese of Lika. It is a semi-hard cow cheese made from skimmed milk. The name of this excellent cheese comes from the unique characteristic; namely, when the cheese is young it scratches when eaten. Historical records show it is a characteristically shepherd’s product, used mostly by people from Lika in the Velebit region. Today few households know how to make this cheese in its original way, and there are efforts now to protect this knowledge.
The cheese that Frankopan offers is from the Miščević estate, fresh as it gets. It was carefully prepared, just before it starts to melt. It blends perfectly with salty bacon, with addition of peppers, which is juicy and crunchy addition to the smooth cheese. Combination with apple and orange pieces gives indeed a great appetizer, supplemented by the Krauthaker Graševina white wine.
If cold appetizers are your thing, you should try the classics: Plate Frankopan (rack, prosciutto, škripavac cheese, liptauer cheese) or Wild Plate Frankopan (deer prosciutto, wild sausages, škripavac cheese, homemade smoked cheese, cottage cheese with sour cream). Among the hot appetizers are mostly risottos and pasta, with mushrooms and cheese. Do try soups, as Gorski kotar is known for its cream soups, especially from mushrooms but also for ragout soups of veal or carrot cream soup. Lika soup is also present, consisting of potato, bacon, onion, sour cream, all based on the beef soup.
For the main course we were offered Lički nabod, served on the boletus mushroom bed and with the potatoes with bacon. It is pork stuffed with ham, cheese and peppers, and baked on hot grill. Nabod was well grilled, with quality ingredients, but the real new taste is gained by the mushroom sauce.
Veal and beef predominates the meat menu, featuring dishes with branded local names such as the Klek ramsteak, Ogulinac pork fillet, or Đula turkey breasts (unusually made with curry sauce and pineapple). But the real treat is to order a day earlier baked veal, lamb, or boar and enjoy it in usual way with baked potatoes. Otherwise, you may go for traditional game food, such as the roe deer medallions with sour cherries, roe deer streak with plum sauce or wild goulash (made with deer, roe deer, boar, or bear).
Restaurant has its own specialties, indeed worthy of culinary experience. Lički nabod is definitely one of them, but one may enjoy veal fillet Ogulin style, served with special slanac potato, cucumbers, rack, mushrooms, hot peppers, and ajvar. Another meal worth trying is duck breasts in „mystic sauce“, containing orange juice, cream, and honey, and served with gnocchi.
Frankopan is famous for its pancakes. It offers more than 50 varieties, both sweet and sour. Astonished not only by the sheer number but by the mind that thinks of these combinations, we were offered baked pancakes filled with cottage cheese, covered by crushed walnuts, and served in the fresh orange juice with pear brandy. Neither sweet nor salty, it has beautiful scent and taste. No wonder some people visit Frankopan only for its pancakes! It is also a place where you can order famous Ogulin masnica, but do it at least two hours prior to your arrival.
In the end, Restaurant Frankopan has indeed deserved its name among the hundred best Croatian restaurants. We may recommend everyone hungry of local specialties to go for the Ogulin feast, a six-course of traditional meals, containing Frankopan wild plate, game pâté with cranberry marmalade and smisni bread, ragout veal soup in custard, Modruš casserole, trout with almonds, Frankopan castle roast – roasted pheasant and pork with Ogulin sauerkraut, sour beet, bread dumplings, and mushrooms. Indeed a food tour reserved for fairytale experience!