Maribor – Mak Restaurant
Maribor’s Mak restaurant is a unique and essential experience for anyone who wants to be taken to the final frontier of culinary art.
Mak opened its doors in early April of last year. The young chef, David Vracko, has taken his global experience and brought it back to his home town of Maribor. This is not your average restaurant or your average Slovenian chef. Mak is more like an atelier (a workshop of an artist). Its concept is not meant for business people popping in for a quick bite to eat or for anyone who has time restraints. This is a restaurant that will thrive from its patrons. People who enjoy David’s creativity and food will make his restaurant a culinary gathering spot. He has no menu; he is inspired by local farmers and his own experience to create daily dishes for his guests. To ensure you do not wait too long, I would suggest a reservation.
The chef also encourages his guests to suggest a type of dish they would enjoy eating for their lunch or dinner. Just be sure to give him advance notice so he can get the supplies.
There is a lot of creativity in his food but unfortunately, not so much in the décor. The ambience of the restaurant is mediocre, but those who appreciate the art of cooking will certainly be surprised. You will be left focusing on the culinary journey you have taken with this budding chef. You will also not be disappointed in the wine list, it’s excellent. The wine list is full of Slovenian hidden treasures and a good representation of some global wines. Many, I am sure, from David’s own journeys.
David prides himself on using no additives, bio products when he can and his mother’s garden for vegetables and herbs. I started with a cup of Mak’s homemade mint tea, a scrumptious cup of tea with a hint of lemongrass and fresh mint leaves from his mum’s garden. It left me refreshed and curious to see how the rest of this secret menu would evolve.
Freshly made bread on arrival, literally! Homemade loaves, sprinkled with an array of seeds. It was worth the wait, delicious. We were soon served several trio appetizer plates. Eye candy for this famished writer. Beautiful presentation, with such attention to detail – a trio of beef: carpaccio, seared fillet beef mignon and cannelloni of beef stuffed with chervil and goat cheese. Dollop’s of celeriac puree, crushed peanuts and sprigs of fresh baby chervil with edible petals. A pet peeve of mine is never to put anything on a plate that you can’t eat. David did not disappoint me; it was lovely to see a plate garnished with all yummy, edible food.
The second trio was just as detailed. Homemade chicken liver pate served with drops of spiced apple compote, perfectly seared chicken liver and again, the spiced apple. A poached marinated chicken roulade, sprinkled together with brunoise of sautéed vegetables. This dish was accompanied by a soufflé of mashed potatoes and a poached quail’s egg in the centre. The mashed potatoes were the lightest I have ever come across. I have my own ideas of how he created it but would like to have a chat about it with the chef to confirm, exquisite! I do love it when a chef uses the same proteins, but manipulates it for different textures and flavours to showcase the variety of the meat or fish. A real experience and a delight to find this style at Mak.
The next dish was soup. A curried beef consume with sautéed frog legs with tiny bites of fresh vegetables. The soup is poured tableside to give the diner first-hand experience of breathing in the fragrant liquid.
My next dish was braised pork loin in an onion sauce, served with slow cooked corned ham, chorizo sausage and spiced salami accompanied with a horseradish puree. Again, it was really nice to see pork used in a different way. The corned ham was by far my favourite, but the whole dish worked really well together.
The sweeter things in life:
We were handed a very playful chocolate mousse with colourful pearl candy balls. It was a fun dessert with a rich and creamy mousse however, I think my daughter would have appreciated it and enjoyed it a bit more then I did. We were also presented with a chocolate hazelnut torte with raspberry sorbet, cumquats, marinated baby grapes and a raspberry macaroon. This was a very nice dessert and I was particularly taken with the raspberry macaroon. It was so light and airy to look at and exploded in my mouth like a raspberry cloud – fantastic!
I applaud chef David Vracko for doing something different and for sticking to his beliefs in what food means to him. I hope that his unique approach is appreciated by people and Mak has a prosperous future. If you are going to Maribor or live there, definitely check out this talented chef, just be sure to call and make a reservation; although still feel free to drop by even if you haven’t.
Osojnikova ulica 20, Maribor
T: +386 (0)2 620 00 53
Open: Monday to Saturday: 11.30am – 9.30pm