â€ś Address: ÂŠentpetrska 6 / 2000 Maribor â€ž
A new home means a new neighbourhood to explore; actually we were so busy trying to make the central heating work in our new house that we didn't have much time to really investigate Brezje, the quiet Maribor suburb (more of a village really) we've moved to but we already knew somewhere to get a filling dinner at a reasonable price when, after several hours spent in our freezing cellar, we were finally able to go to eat.
Gostilna Klampfer is an old favourite of ours, not least because it's just across the road from our favourite haunt, Pivovarna Zupanic, a bar and microbrewery just five minutes walk from the new house (the proximity of Zupanic had absolutely nothing to do with our final decision, really!); the simple but tasty home-cooking of Gostilna Klampfer is perfect after a few beers at Zupanic and, because it closes quite early, it cuts short a drinking session at what is probably the right point.
'Gostilna' is a catch all word that describes an eating place; I find it odd that a language that has so many words for commercial eating places (among them: bife, okrepalnicia, restavracija, gostisce) should use just one 'gostilna' to encompass such a wide variety. A gostilna can be a country inn or a modern self service restaurant; I've eaten at a gostilna specialising in fish dishes, and visited another that didn't serve food at all (I asked the owner if there was a gostilna nearby and she waved her arms around denoting the surrounding and said 'Here is a gostilna'). Gostilna Klampfer occupies that territory that is typical of most gostilna: it's a fairly modern but cosy family run restaurant serving a limited selection of home cooked meals with an emphasis on Slovenian food.
The main entrance to the restaurant is situated at the top of a flight of steps meaning that it is not accessible for wheelchair users or people who are unable to manage stairs. There are some car-parking spaces just outside the restaurant.
Inside there are three interconnecting dining rooms with the middle one being also the bar; it's perfectly acceptable to go to Klampfer just for a drink though we always go to eat. If it's a cold day we tend to go into one of the separate dining rooms to be away from possible chills when the door is opened and closed; you can sit where you like, there's no need to wait to be seated. If there's not a member of staff around when you go in there's no need to find someone; sooner or later someone will come out of the kitchen and spot you.
Gostilna Klampfer is a family affair and we've always been made very welcome, even when we spoke next to no Slovene. English is not spoken and the menu is in Slovene only so you either need to know some Slovene or you need to bring a phrasebook or dictionary (or be totally unfussy and just point at something on the menu and take a chance). Fortunately the menu isn't extensive and if you've eaten at other Slovenian places the names of these dishes will soon start to stick in your mind: Slovenians don't really do for variety (unless you count nine permutations of a schnitzel). While the choices are mostly meaty you will find some fish and a few vegetarian dishes though deep fried cheese and 'struklji' (usually described as a dumpling, this flat fluffy pastry comes drowned in a delicious but very rich cheese sauce) are hardly healthy options.
For carnivores I have to recommend the schnitzel; in Slovene it's called a 'zrezek' (Slovenian waiting staff love it if you use the Slovene word) and you can choose from pork, veal or turkey. You can get chicken dishes in Slovenia but turkey is more common and I often choose it for a schnitzel given the option as it makes a lighter schnitzel than pork or veal (and is often about Euro1 cheaper). You can have your schnitzel 'natural' which means no breadcrumb coating and no sauce, or you can choose from different preparations such as 'po Dunajski' (perhaps more recognisable as 'Wiener schnitzel) which is the traditional breadcrumbed schnitzel or 'po ljubljansko' which is where the battered out slice of meat has been wrapped in cheese and slices of thin ham before being breadcrumbed and fried. I'm often tempted by a 'po ljubljansko' zrezek but Slovenian cheese and ham are both really salty and having learned my lesson with cheese and ham stuffed squid, I do tend to avoid dishes like this now.
Another good dish at Klampfer is the 'vampi', served here more as a stew but in other places it can be more of a broth with an almost clear stock and vegetables; the thin strips of tripe are slow cooked to make them really tender and to help absorb the flavours of the stew. Vampi is a good and filling winter dish and Klampfer's version is as good as any vampi in Maribor.
Accompaniments must be ordered separately. My favourite is the 'prazen krompir'; this is a dish that is frequently under-translated as mashed potatoes but that doesn't do it justice. In prazen krompir the potatoes are not mashed smoothly, they are boiled first then sliced and fried with onions and salt and pepper so that they break up in the pan. A little stock is stirred through and absorbed into the mixture. Slovenians love this dish so much there's a society devoted to it and popular Slovene singer Zoran Predin has even written and recorded a song dedicated to it.
It's usual to order a salad; Slovenians do eat lots of vegetables but cooked vegetables tend to be eaten at home more than in restaurants and salads are eaten all year round in restaurants but arrive before the main course and most people tuck into them straightaway. Klampfer always does a good salad based on whatever is available so winter salads tend to include beans and pickled cabbage while summer salads are packed with different leaves.
We usually visit Klampfer in the evening and while we have no objection to the prices on the main menu that we order from, the best time to go is in the middle of the day when there are a few set lunches available. These comprise soup (always a choice of beef or vegetable), salad, main course with accompaniment and a dessert (a couple of scoops of ice cream or a slice of cake usually) and depending on which you choose (it's the main course that alters the price) you can expect to pay anything from around Euro6.50 (for the meat free daily menu) to Euro8.50.
Those who want a decent meal earlier than lunch time can order the daily 'malica' which is available from 10.00am. Malica is basically an early midday meal; it comes from a time when most people worked the land and rose very early. Nowadays it's just the elderly (who are in the malica habit) and workers like builders or road maintenance crew who start work early who take malice. There are four malica dishes that are always available priced on average around Euro4.50 and a malica of the day which costs Euro3.80.
Our bill for two mains with accompaniments, salad and a couple of beers usually comes in around the Euro22 mark which is pretty good considering the portion size (the zrezek are enormous!). We've never had a single complaint about the food and we've always been made to feel very much at home here. Gostilna Klampfer doesn't offer anything out of the ordinary but it does the run of the mill very well indeed. I recommend it if you find yourself in the south eastern suburbs of Maribor.
Sentpetrska ulica 6, 2000 Maribor
From the city centre take bus number 16 headed for Dogose, or the circular 3 or 12.