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Do you know the intense feeling when planning your holiday and thinking that you have browsed through and googled everything that was there and nothing can surprise you anymore? But something always comes up. Last time this happened to me in the High Tatras. I was hit by a “Dinner under the stars” ad. I know Skalnaté Pleso quite well mainly from skiing in winter, so I found the chance to experience it in the evening light quite interesting. Luckily, my better half was happy about the “unexpected” dinner plan too. And the Big day has come.
The evening journey begins
We park at the Humno Music Pub in Tatranská Lomnica, register and head for cableways. We are about to travel to the Štart interchange station and from there to Skalnaté Pleso. The trip with the orange 6-seater chairlift is a unique experience itself because when compared to the original cable car, the views and the feelings that one is literally embraced by the mountains are hundred times stronger.
You are breathing the air that otherwise only birds can enjoy and their performance can be heard everywhere around. Or is it rather my stomach making itself known? The trip with the first chairlift ends with funny staff members reciting the get-off manual with their index fingers raised: “Feet up, a bit moooore, and now jump!” We laugh together and board a modern cable car cabin that should take us from Štart to Skalnaté Pleso. The sun has already set behind the ridge of the Tatras but is still doing magic together with the clouds. Once we get off in Skalnaté pleso, only a glass of sparkling wine served as a welcome drink at the restaurant entrance can take my eyes of the majestic summit of Mt Lomnický štít. One last glance at binoculars waiting ready on the terrace and we enter the Panorama restaurant.
The building where the upper station of the Skalnaté Pleso cable car used to be in the past has changed to a modern, functionally designed facility with huge windows and designer lights. The evening atmosphere has a much higher level when compared to daytime and not only thanks to the ladies of the La Speranza group😊.
This is what we have been looking forward to most
THIS comes right after the welcome. Before we are invited to the abundant buffet, the host tells us what to expect – food, drinks, stars, culture. Whew, quite a lot for one evening! But let’s take one thing at a time. Already the first look at the tables groaning under the weight of tastefully arranged delicacies indicates that the dinner will be long. I’ll help myself with the menu here:
- goat cheese and tomato terrine finger food
- finger food with fermented salmon and beetroot with horseradish
- finger food with duck and vegetable quinoa
- salad buffet (mixed fresh vegetables, mixed greens, potato, Coleslaw)
- bolete mushroom-cream soup
- traditional gnocchi with bryndza (sheep cheese product) and fried bacon pieces
- gnocchi with stir-fried spinach and tomatoes
- chicken steak piccata
- smoked bio cow cheese
- sous-vide pork neck with braised red cabbage
- beef ragout with red wine
- steamed butter vegetables
- jacket potatoes
- steamed rice
- bread dumplings
- bread and roll selection
- mini waffles with whipped cream and fruit
- Panna cotta with fruit
- raspberry brownies
To be honest, I didn’t taste everything. That was mission impossible. After the first finger food, it was clear to me that the typical Slovak resolution: “I will taste a bit of everything” would stay behind the door. Due to capacity reasons. So I tried to primarily enjoy it. The goat cheese was great, the duck was delicious, the gnocchi with stir-fried spinach and cherry tomatoes were flawless. However, the excitement about good food was soon replaced by the well-known felling that the eyes continue tasting, but the rest of the body simply shuts down and full tables become a teasing element only. Panna cotta with fruit was originally meant as a simple icing on the cake, but mini waffles with whipped cream and fruit were literally irresistible. This means that we could see the first stars long before the ones on the sky.
After the gastronomy experience, it was time to watch the real stars. Unfortunately, the clouds had closed the curtains and the only stars that remained were the ones on the projection screen in a café where an ardent astronomer uncovered the secrets of the dark sky to us. Neither I nor my partner is a lecture fan, so we made our way to the Encián outlook tower.
Magic at the end
Bad timing. Very bad timing 😊. After a proper dinner, it was a torture to walk up the stairs. But the first step on the terrace was enough to wake up our senses. Hard to say if it was thanks to the fresh Tatra air or the clouds hanging above the granite walls of Mt Kežmarský štít and Mt Lomnický štít, but I came round very quickly. A magical place. One of restaurant windows flickering in the dark to the foothills like a beacon below me, rock walls, clouds rolling around and wind in front of us, Cohen’s Hallelujah sounding in the distance. You don’t need to have a kitschy picture of a setting sun in front of your eyes to enjoy a unique moment in the mountains with influencers eagerly bending their knees based on the Instagram manual of basic positions. Such a “raw” moment will help you feel much better what the mountains are actually about. And maybe it is even more intense than an idyllic panorama with a blue sky. We walk down the tower stairs and stop by in the Encián gallery with paintings and historic photos of the cable car construction. Unexpected things in an unexpected location. Thumbs up. On the way from the gallery, it’s really funny to read all messages of previous visitors engraved in the bricks that the building is made of. This is a really great end. After a dinner under (covered) stars. After nice moments with a unique person in a unique place.
PS: We are travelling down with the cable car. While some members of the crew use the possibility to go to the HUMNO Music Pub for free, that’s too much for us. Good food and Cohen in our heads have done enough.