3-5 October 2016
Naturally during my three-day stay in Lithuania, I also had a few lunches. Despite running around crazy from dawn every morning, I did manage to sit down for three of them — 2 in Vilnius, and one in between in Kaunas. Three very different and distinct meals, which made it far more interesting.
First up was the venerable Lokys, where I returned for the first time since the 1990s. I had that good dinner at Ertlio Namas the evening before and had a very busy day running around Vilnius all morning, so I dropped into this cellar restaurant famous for its game for a late lunch. Looks about the same as before, and I hit my head in the same place I did about 20 years ago…
Service is still spotty, and there’s no signal in the cellar, so it’s just a time to chill. It’s a bit of a tourist trap, but I remember the game meats being excellent, which is why I dropped in here. I ordered, and first to show up was something I can rarely touch now — beer.
A nice local dark beer, which helped me to relax certainly. But I do have to be careful with them, as my problem with beer is getting much worse, so kept it at one despite wanting more… In any case, the soup arrived.
A simple mushroom soup, nothing impressive. Just a tummy filler really. I was hungry so that helped. Then the main course, the boar.
Lokys is known for its game meat, and this did not disappoint. The meat itself was excellent, cooked well and full of flavour. But the other stuff was way too heavy for lunch, especially with a tasting menu dinner coming. Not bad at all. I headed out back to the hotel for a wee rest.
That night was the spectacularly poor experience at Dublis, which I have moaned about enough. The next morning after a pre-dawn alarm I was off to the train station and got into Kaunas just after sunrise. After trying to figure out the local bus system due to so much road works, I got my bearings and had a very, very long morning trekking around different parts of town.
I did plan on having lunch, and I had found a place called Uoksas in the centre. They did a tasting menu but only in the evening, and their lunch menu changes daily and is written on a chalkboard. I looked over it as I had a glass of wine and decided. Chilled and soon the first course arrived, the egg and mushrooms.
A nice little dish, with a healthy amount of garlic as well. Not a bad start. Then a modest vegetable soup.
Actually quite delicious, nice for a cold day when one’s been walking around for 6 hours. Full of nice roots, good stock too. Then the main…
The skin was done well on this, the fish pretty good though maybe a little overcooked. Overall nice, lovely pearl barley. Filling. I happily headed out and trekked a little more around town before I had to catch the train back to Vilnius.
That night I had the wonderful tasting menu at Sweet Root, which revitalised me quite a bit. If yesterday’s dining at Lokys and Dublis represents something backwards-looking (Dublis not really but carried the air of the country’s past burdens), this day’s dining at Uoksas and Sweet Root shows what the future of Lithuania can be, full of potential.
The next morning I was getting ready to fly out to Frankfurt to connect back to the US, but I had enough time for a quick lunch. So I walked out to a fancy seafood place called Žuvinė. With it located on the side of the Town Hall in one of the most in-demand locations in town, you gotta imagine this is made for business lunches.
I did indeed manage to eavesdrop on some interesting conversations…goodness, people need to be more discrete discussing big business deals! Anyway, I had some nice wine and ordered my lunch. The service here as you’d expect is very polished, as are the prices of items… Anyway, soon came my first dish, a very nice fish soup.
Healthy amount of fish there, very nice flavours. Again, nice on a rather rainy and cold day in Lithuania. Next up was my main, and it was bigger — and surprisingly better — than I expected.
This fritto misto is one of the better I’ve had in ages to be honest. It’s actually in tempura style, rather than the Mediterranean fashion. The breadth of seafoods, from octopus to shrimp, from scallop to squid, is actually fabulous, as are the really nice vegetables. No potato to be found anywhere, yes! Loved it!
That was a very good last meal in Lithuania. As I hopped on a cab towards the airport to leave this country I have such a soft spot for, I feared for it. It has depopulated so much over the years, and the current election campaign has really been demoralising. Some poor meals, but some excellent ones — ones that made me feel good that Lithuania, no matter what goes on politically, is on a good footing. I will miss this country, having visited many times over 23 years, but at least the last memories will be fantastic.
Stiklių gatvė 8/10
Maironio gatvė 28
Didžioji gatvė 31