DAM: the rise of Slovenian chefs

A visit to the restaurant/hotel of Uros and Danijela Fakuc in Nova Gorica, a couple who perfectly understands the meaning of hospitality

07-11-2019
The entrance to DAM boutique hotel & restaurant 

The entrance to DAM boutique hotel & restaurant in Ulica Vinka Vodopivca 24 in Nova Gorica, Slovenia, a stone’s throw away from the Italian border 

Uros Fakuc, born in 1977, is a member of the JRE (Jeunes Restaurateurs d'Europe) and got 16 points on the 2019 Gault & Millau guide. He’s a very talented chef, who’s becoming appreciated and known, which is what is happening to all of Slovenia’s cuisine which, thanks most of all to chefs Tomaz Kavcic and Ana Roš, in the past few years has become more and more established on a global scale.

Thanks to a great curiosity that leads him always to confront himself with other chefs, Uroš has strengthened his excellent skills and refined his technique. Indeed, before he opened his restaurant DAM in 2005, he acquired a varied experience including an internship with Gualtiero Marchesi. His cuisine is elegant and balanced, and at his restaurant, which had already been totally renovated in September 2018, especially with regards to dining room and kitchen, he recently added a beautiful Boutique Hotel with 9 rooms and very elegant suites, decorated with great taste.

The restaurant is very elegant, and the setting is romantic, with soft lights and music which make the setting even more welcoming and magic. The restaurant includes the magnificent main dining room, as well as various private rooms in different sizes, for romantic or business dinners. In the summer, there’s also a nice dehors where you can dine or even just have a drink before or after your meal. The tables in the dining room are well spaced and the table setting is very elegant.

Uros and his wife Danijela welcome every guest with warmth and personally walk them to the table. The dishes are served by the chef in person (or by Danijela) who explain them with pleasure, enthusiasm and passion.

Breakfast 

Breakfast 

The dining room

The dining room

Uros is also the restaurant’s sommelier and presents local wines from the Slovenian Collio or from the Vipava valley, as well as Italian and foreign wines that perfectly match the dishes. You can choose from one of the bottles in the wine list, which includes mostly local wines, or follow Uros’s advice for a pairing with a wine served by the glass. The prices of the wines are also competitive, with excellent quality for money.

The restaurant offers two different tasting menus. The "DAM Tradition" menu, for 55 euros per person, plus 30 euros for the wine pairing, and the "Between the Isonzo Valley and the Adriatic Sea" menu, for 65 euros per person plus 30 euros for the wine pairing. I always recommend to choose one of the two tasting menus but even when choosing "à la carte" there are many excellent and creative dishes from which to choose and the prices vary between 15 and 25 euros for the starters, 16 and 20 euros for the first courses and 22 and 25 euros for the main courses.

Among the dishes not to be missed, there’s the DAM Mixed raw seafood starter, as well as the Egg wrapped in squid ink with cream of truffle and the Potato that wanted to become a truffle [inspired by Massimo Bottura’s dish].Among the first courses, I’d like to recommend all the seafood Risottos that Uros presents, which are not typically Slovenian but since he’s a lover of risottos, he decided to include them in the menu. 

Among the main courses, instead, we recommend the Tuna filet wrapped squid inkand the Smoked grilled octopus.

These are the most emblematic dishes. But then we followed his advice. This is the complete report.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

Amuse bouche: Anchovy filet, extra virgin olive oil, Slovenian salt flakes from Pirano and cream of vinegar 

Amuse bouche: Anchovy filet, extra virgin olive oil, Slovenian salt flakes from Pirano and cream of vinegar 

Amuse bouche: Sandwich with salt flakes and rosemary

Amuse bouche: Sandwich with salt flakes and rosemary

Amuse bouche: Crispy polenta wafer with salted cod in cream and olives 

Amuse bouche: Crispy polenta wafer with salted cod in cream and olives 

Amuse bouche: Fake DAM truffle with a heart of soft cheese and truffle flakes. The pairing with the amuse bouche:  Medot 48 Brut sparkling wine from the Slovenian Collio (60% Ribolla, 20% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay) refined on the lees for 48 months (hence the name)

Amuse bouche: Fake DAM truffle with a heart of soft cheese and truffle flakes. The pairing with the amuse bouche:  Medot 48 Brut sparkling wine from the Slovenian Collio (60% Ribolla, 20% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay) refined on the lees for 48 months (hence the name)

Trout sashimi with trout roe from the Isonzo river, wild herbs, edible flowers, crispy polenta, ricotta and caviar with extra virgin olive oil and lemon sorbet. A great start for the tasting menu, with a very fresh and aromatic starter which has a nice crispy note given by the polenta. You can tell the trout is very fresh and it’s a perfectly balanced dish in terms of flavours and textures 

Trout sashimi with trout roe from the Isonzo river, wild herbs, edible flowers, crispy polenta, ricotta and caviar with extra virgin olive oil and lemon sorbet. A great start for the tasting menu, with a very fresh and aromatic starter which has a nice crispy note given by the polenta. You can tell the trout is very fresh and it’s a perfectly balanced dish in terms of flavours and textures 

Summer fish soup: scampi, watermelon and tomato coulis. A brand new, excellent dish. The scampi is of course fresh and of good quality. It’s perfectly matched by the juicy and sweet watermelon and the tomato coulis, which is more sour 

Summer fish soup: scampi, watermelon and tomato coulis. A brand new, excellent dish. The scampi is of course fresh and of good quality. It’s perfectly matched by the juicy and sweet watermelon and the tomato coulis, which is more sour 

Egg yolk covered in squid ink, cream of courgettes and truffle. The only turf dish of the evening. Beautiful and elegant appearance, truly excellent. It’s a creamy and delicate dish. The strong flavour of the truffle, of the egg yolk with squid ink and of the courgettes are perfectly matched by one another, making this a very harmonious dish. With this dish Uroš opened for us a bottle of 2015Movia Pinot Grigio Ambra 

Egg yolk covered in squid ink, cream of courgettes and truffle. The only turf dish of the evening. Beautiful and elegant appearance, truly excellent. It’s a creamy and delicate dish. The strong flavour of the truffle, of the egg yolk with squid ink and of the courgettes are perfectly matched by one another, making this a very harmonious dish. With this dish Uroš opened for us a bottle of 2015Movia Pinot Grigio Ambra 

Risotto with the aroma of the sea and dried caviar. The aroma of the sea is very clear and the creaminess and cooking of this vialone nano rice (Uroš prefers it to carnaroli) are perfect. The touch of dried caviar adds the right sapidity to this risotto with a strong flavour, masterfully executed 

Risotto with the aroma of the sea and dried caviar. The aroma of the sea is very clear and the creaminess and cooking of this vialone nano rice (Uroš prefers it to carnaroli) are perfect. The touch of dried caviar adds the right sapidity to this risotto with a strong flavour, masterfully executed 

Scallop wrapped in hempseeds, parsley mousse and purée with lemon. Another new dish. The scallop is tender and perfectly cooked, wrapped in a layer of crispy hempseeds. A brilliant idea and a nice play on textures, what with the soft scallop and the crispy hempseeds. The foam of parsley and the purée with lemon complete the dish, adding freshness 

Scallop wrapped in hempseeds, parsley mousse and purée with lemon. Another new dish. The scallop is tender and perfectly cooked, wrapped in a layer of crispy hempseeds. A brilliant idea and a nice play on textures, what with the soft scallop and the crispy hempseeds. The foam of parsley and the purée with lemon complete the dish, adding freshness 

Mojito Sorbet. A classic and refreshing pre-dessert that prepares the palate for the dessert 

Mojito Sorbet. A classic and refreshing pre-dessert that prepares the palate for the dessert 

Chocolate, salt flakes, extra virgin olive oil and orange. The chef’s signature dessert. The Slovenian extra virgin olive oil and the salt flakes from Pirano are a perfect match for the delicate dark chocolate mousse and the orange completes this fantastic dessert, served in a very elegant way 

Chocolate, salt flakes, extra virgin olive oil and orange. The chef’s signature dessert. The Slovenian extra virgin olive oil and the salt flakes from Pirano are a perfect match for the delicate dark chocolate mousse and the orange completes this fantastic dessert, served in a very elegant way 

Petit fours with fresh strawberries, white chocolate with lavender, dark chocolate, custard cream and biscuits. A sweet and beautiful finale with the strawberries, very fresh and sweet, the rich cream, the chocolate and the homemade biscuits

Petit fours with fresh strawberries, white chocolate with lavender, dark chocolate, custard cream and biscuits. A sweet and beautiful finale with the strawberries, very fresh and sweet, the rich cream, the chocolate and the homemade biscuits


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