Tasting local dishes is an important part of travelling. I had a few ups and downs in the restaurants of Vilnius, the beautiful capital of Lithuania.
Very rarely I write about restaurants where I have dined or had a pint during my travels. I don’t think I have done even one restaurant review or recommendation. Neither do I post or even take fancy food pictures climbing on a chair, a ladder or a fence to catch the perfect angle and the most admirable light.
I don’t in general travel for food, and I don’t normally ask for restaurant tips for my journey. I rather play it by feel, eat wherever and whatever I fancy at the very moment I get hungry. Sometimes I have to get disappointed, sometimes I get extremely positively surprised.
Sometimes, however, I can’t find words, or even thoughts after dining at a restaurant. And believe me, if something is leaving me speechless, it’s not always a good thing.
But it’s still an experience. And it’s an important part of travelling.
Don’t get me wrong. I do have a couple of principles for my travel dining. When travelling to a new destination I always want to try at least a couple local specialties I have never tasted before, and I never eat twice at the same restaurant. Unless the food is seriously so delicious that I can’t stay away.
What comes to my posting habits, this time I will make a small exception. I just spent a weekend in Vilnius, the beautiful capital of Lithuania, and together with Daniel we had four emotive restaurant experiences that I wanted to tell you about.
We had beer from a tap of our own, we had an indoor dinner under a tree, we tasted some questionable but traditional Lithuanian dishes, and I lost my heart to something I found on…
Hmm, let’s not finish that sentence quite yet.
There’s something I want to note before we start. I didn’t climb anywhere for any of the pictures, and the light wasn’t too admirable in any of these restaurants. Sorry about that.
Nature on a plate – a Forest worth a dish
We stumbled upon to a restaurant called Forest already on our first evening in Vilnius. It was only after our dinner that we found out the restaurant is highly recommended in guide books and reviews. For a reason.
The food was absolutely delicious, and the intriguing atmosphere definitely gained some additional points. When stepping on the corridor we nearly changed our minds and headed back out, because the extraordinary decoration and funny ambience made us doubt if it was our kind of restaurant after all. But we decided to take a chance and went straight in.
A big tree was standing in the middle of the dining room, and it seemed like that at every table someone was sipping a green drink, not necessarily a cocktail. Even though in Forest the actual forest and nature are present on a plate as well as in decor, the menu is filled with both, exciting local Lithuanian dishes and traditional grill food finalized with a modern touch.
Last but not least, the prices on the menu were very nice from the aspect of a Finn.
Our order consisted of assorted bruchettas and a beetroot soup with a spare rib for starters (doesn’t the soup sound exciting, right?) and the chef’s burger and a delicious juicy duck breast with two large beers, 28 euros in total. In Finland you pay that for the duck only. Pretty much.
Forest is located right next to old town and it’s very easy to reach by foot.
A night with our own beer tap in a microbrewery
Vilnius has several brewery pubs. When wandering around the streets of the old town we found ourselves standing in front of a microbrewery called Leičių Bravoras.
Why did we end up in a microbrewery, you might wonder? Well, we had been walking for the whole day and we just wanted to sit down and enjoy a nice and cold pint of local beer. Once we found a cozy looking pub, we glanced at the menu that said the customers can pour their beers by themselves from the tap placed on each table.
You just have to go in when you see that, right?
So, we stepped inside and had absolutely no idea what to do next. We couldn’t see any staff, and the locals entering the pub seemed to walk directly to a shelf full of different kinds of beer glasses and pints. After following them for a while and confirming by asking, we took our glasses and sat down next to our tap.
I’m a bit picky with beer, so instead of the yeasty wheat beer coming from the tap, the waitress was kind enough to bring me a few small glasses of different variations to try out. Despite my special beer glasses, I offered to help Daniel with the tap. I used to be a waitress as well, you know.
For a while we were wondering how this kind of pub night will be charged, once we noticed the digital meters on the walls next to each table. Although we couldn’t figure out how they worked; the numbers weren’t increasing no matter how often we poured more beer into Daniel’s pint.
Either or, the beer was cheap and there sure was enough of it.
Traditional Lithuanian specialties in the atmospheric Forto Dvaras
On the second, and also the last night of our little weekend getaway, we wanted to taste some local dishes. For this purpose we had a peek of Vilnius in your pocket guidebook, just enough to get an idea of the restaurants serving such flavours.
We chose a restaurant called Forto Dvaras located along the busiest street of the old town of Vilnius. It seemed like the best place with an authentic atmosphere, plus I remembered seeing the restaurant the night before and noting how cute and medieval it looked like.
The atmosphere at the restaurant really was spot on, Forto Dvaras absolutely nailed it. Based on the recommendations of the waitress, we decided to share three best local dishes.
Cepelinai, better known as Zeppelin, is the national dish of Lithuania. It’s a big potato dumpling, normally filled with meat and enjoyed with some sour cream, as most Lithuanian specialties are. I love sour cream, so that’s not an issue for me. The Zeppelins instead… they were.
Want an honest opinion? Yyyyh… Not to my taste, not at all. The outside layer seemed slimy and icky, and I left it on the side of my plate after all. The meat filling and sour cream tasted nice.
The second dish was an oven-baked portion made of potato mash and chicken bits, again served with sour cream. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this one either.
I’ve heard Lithuanian food is considered the best of the Baltics, but personally I find it very difficult to believe. As we all know, there’s no accounting for taste, so in case you like starchy potato dishes, it might actually be the cuisine for you. For me not.
Our dish number three? Even if I thought sausage with sauerkraut and horseradish is German rather than Baltic dish, it was recommended to us as a local specialty. Again the accompanied potato mash was cooked too starchy to my taste.
As a restaurant Forto Dvaras was very nice, as was the atmosphere. I truly believe they cooked all dishes to perfection, I just had to discover that I’m not a fan of Lithuanian food, that’s all. But it was still an experience, and it’s an important part of travelling.
Hey, at least I tried!
And the damn thing stealing my heart…
In case you follow me on Instagram, you might already know what I’m going to blame for the crime of stealing my heart. I have loved cheese—all kinds of cheese—as long as I can remember. What I can’t remember is a day I didn’t enjoy any of this luxurious and yet so ordinary treat.
But there was something I didn’t know. No one ever told me that one tiny little addition could send me directly to heaven. Fig jam, you little devil kept in secret!
There’s no going back. The sweet combination of fig jam and cheese is something I can’t forget or get over with.
We had the cheese plate at the terrace of La Cave, a fancy restaurant right next to the cathedral of Vilnius. The price was 6 euros, so it’s a little bit more expensive than an average restaurant in Vilnius, but I guarantee it was worth every damn cent.
Have you ever tasted Lithuanian food? How was your culinary experience? Please share your thoughts on comments below!
I have great news for you! You can now download this article for free and take it with you when you travel to Vilnius! Go to GPSmyCity to download (at the moment available only for iOS). If you pay a small fee to upgrade ($1.99), you will be able to use the offline map and tracker without any roaming charges. I’ll receive a few cents, and you will be able to enjoy Vilnius without getting lost and wasting money on data. Have a lovely trip!
Check out also these available articles:
Pin this story for later:
Find and follow Live now – dream later on social media: