If you get to Lake Bled, then you might be forgiven for forgetting feasts for the stomach in favour of feasts for the eyes. Here's what I mean:
Yep, when I was planning a visit to Lake Bled in Slovenia, I didn't do much in the way of restaurant research. Me and Mr Flicking the Vs were so determined to go, we decided to go anyway and work out the eating situation when we got there.
We booked a self-catering apartment, as we usually do when we're going on holiday, so if there wasn't much in the way of good vegan eating, we'd not run hungry. Bled has a few branches of the local supermarket chain called Mercator, and the ones we visited all had a small section of useful groceries for itinerant vegans: whole foods like grains and seeds, as well as vegan friendly biscuits, non-dairy milks, and other bits and pieces. My favourite find was this Granovita courgette and sunflower seed spread which was lovely on toast:
You can also pick up all sorts of version of ajver, a lovely vegetable spread that's similarly friendly to toast and makes a cracking toast-topper. While there's no health food store or equivalent selling ready-made vegan items, the Mercator by the Bled camp site sells tofu for when you're jonesing for that bean curd fix.
But if you're of a mood to eat out, what are your options? The first and most obvious is the all vegan burger bar, Zaziv! Yep, in a fairly small Slovenian town, there's a small place with an all-plant menu. If you're having trouble finding it, head into the Trgovski Center on Ljubljanska cesta. You can either order at Zaziv itself, or take a seat outside the Public Bar and someone will come and take your order.
You get a choice of four burgers, with the bread and sauces of your choice. There isn't much in the way of sides, but given the burgers are larger than some mammals, you'll probably not feel their absence too much.
Whichever burger you go for, you'll find they have three things in common: they're large, they're tasty, and they're messy. I tried a Primorc burger with a buckwheat bun first time around (more on the repeat later) and would recommend the corn bun instead. I'd also recommend getting all three sauces - mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard - because it's going to be messy eating anyway, so you might as well see just how far up your forearm you can decorate with burger fixings.
Speaking of which, Zaziv goes for a more-is-more approach. Rather than the traditional pickle, lettuce, tomato and maybe onion, Zaziv does all those on its burger, as well as whatever else it finds in its vegetable draw. Raw broccoli might not be the most obvious thing to find on your burger, but it was all good.
Where else can you eat vegan in Bled? Apparently, Okarina. I say 'apparently' because, while the menu outside the restaurant says vegan dishes can be prepare on request, and Tripadvisor reports vegan diners enjoying thalis there, I never got a chance to sample their wares.
We dropped into a half-empty restaurant on a Sunday night some time before 7pm. We were told the place was fully booked and we should come back at 9pm. They couldn't promise a table even then, but we were welcome to return. We assumed that maybe Okarina was expecting a big coach party later that evening, but we didn't fancy waiting another two hours for them to eat before we could get our chance, so we ended up back at Zaziv again.
On our way back to our self-catering apartment, we passed by Okarina again, before the 9pm deadline when a table would perhaps, or perhaps not, appear. The restaurant was still half empty. They could easily have accommodated us, and we were at a loss why they chose not to.
A little further up on Ljubljanska cesta, there's a Chinese restaurant whose name I forget (Peking, I think?) From a quick peruse of their menu, I'm pretty sure they had a number of vegan dishes, and I didn't see them turning anyone away at any point. If you're of a mind for some tofu and veggies, I'd say they're a good bet.
Our return visit to Zaziv was just as solid as the first, although a couple of the burgers were off on the Sunday night we visited. A sign of popularity, I guess, or that lots of other people got the brush off from Okarina before us and had depleted Zaziv's vegan stocks!
A second trip allowed us to try other burgers (I'd say avoid the Dolenc burger unless you love mushrooms more than you like life) and a bit of raw chocolate cake. Oh yes friends, Zaziv might not have much in the way of sides, but there's dessert, so we can all sleep easy now.
Despite the sandwich boards outside Zaziv offering a vegan version of Bled's famous cream cake, the only afters when we stopped by was a raw chocolate slice. The base was a bit too much work for the jaw, but it did taste good. Both the vegan cream and the sharp dark fruit sauce were equally delicious, though both should have been present in larger quantities for full dessert heaven.
So, what's the verdict on Bled for vegans? Self-caterers should have no problem eating well, while would-be restaurant goers might find dining out a bit hit or miss. Zaziv was definitely a hit though.
zaziv.si/ or https://en-gb.facebook.com/zaziv.vegan.bar.bled/
Ljubljanska cesta 4
Ljubljanska cesta 8