A selection of restaurant reviews from Vilnius
by dangaroo on March 10, 2012
With its sleek modern decor and simple affordable cuisine, Vilnius' Gusto Blynine always had every chance of developing into a chain, so I wasn't surprised that there were 3 more restaurants in 2012 than when I previously visited Lithuania's capital in 2008 and I imagine it won't take them all that long to conquer the streets of Kaunas, Klaipeda and Palanga too. The location of their first cafe was either very well thought out or incredibly fortunate, one of the most affordable places near the Gate of Dawn, a tourist sight that the visiting Poles are absolutely smitten with and guess what? The same tourists can't get enough of pancakes either, which just happens to be the staple of Gusto Blynine's menu. Serving pancakes is pretty hard to get wrong, so as long as they maintain their affordable prices and keep using popular fillings then they've little to worry about. The said fillings tend to be fruity, chocolatey or creamy, orange marmalade and a variety of berries are all popular choices, I'm not much of a pancake lover but you could tell that they weren't using the cheapest ingredients and as long as you've got a sweet tooth, then I'm sure you'll like it. A range of tea, coffee, hot and cold drinks are on offer as well as cakes. The branch on Laisves Prospektas also serves up pizzas, I've not tried them but the prices are certainly very appealing. More interestingly all of the branches have begun serving quick snacks to go, an example is a piece of dark bread with cream cheese, salmon and ruccola, this generally costs under 2 litas (40p) and whilst it's not up my street, I can see what they are going for. The fast, friendly, efficient and multi-lingual staff are a major bonus, as is the general cleanliness of the place, the toilets are sparkling clean and I found the posters inside to be rather interesting. For a decent breakfast including coffee, you are looking at around 10 litas (£2.40) which is great value considering the touristy location.
by dangaroo on February 21, 2012
Meat Lovers is a pretty kitsch name for a restaurant and I don't think I'd have gone in if it wasn't recomended. It's located at A. Šv.Ignoto g. 14, close to the previously reviewed "Cozy". When you walk through the door you are hit by a very white modern look, white walls, ceilings and dark wooden tables and chairs are spread around the room, a large blackboard is on one of the walls with all the meals written in English in chalk. The names don't really do the meals justice, "Hamburger" for example is actually a heavy duty burger with all the trimmings but the finer details are not to be found on the blackboard. There is no menu and it seems that you need to go up to the bar to order, it's difficult to judge the level of service because we were dining with a friend of the staff and it was pretty quiet. The contact we did have with them though, was pleasant. The food was served stylishly and came quickly.Two touches that were a bit special included dangling lightbulbs at different lengths creating a sort of web of lights and my preferred subtlety - a superb range of old school auto magazines racked up in the toilet. Whether a restaurant's toilet should be quite so cozy is debatable but i certainly found it rather warm and almost like a reference library as I perused classic cars in the khazi.Now on to the food, I chose the said hamburger above at 17 litas (about £4) which is pretty damn good value. The burger in question consisted of an enormous slab of well cooked burger meat, accompanied with fresh onions, tomatos, cheese and lettuce bulging through it's burger bread and making for a somewhat messy meal. If I wanted to be really picky then I would say that the inside of the bread seemed sort of toasted, usually I sign that the burger was really hot when put inside the bread. Some people like it that way, I prefer mine a little softer but that level of criticism should probably be saved for Master Chef. The burger itself would have been more than fine but they topped it off with some delicious thick cut chips and some dips. Great food, great value, the decor looks a little posh to me an I thought it would have cost a packet but it didn't.Other dishes on the wall menu looked equally good when coming out, steaks, ribs, German type sausages and soups made an appearance and other diners looked full and satisfied. Drinks such as beer and wine also seemed very good value.
by dangaroo on July 5, 2008
Cili Kaimas is not so different from the restaurant I reviewed yesterday "Forto Dvaras". whilst it's also a traditional Lithuanian restaurant, it is perhaps more popular than its competitor and it is part of the Cili chain which also includes Cili Pica. There are several in Kaunas, Vilnius and Klaipeda and the one that I am reviewing is the one in the center of Vilnius located at Vokieciu gatve 8.Forto Dvaras is relatively large but with quite a lot of clutter and not a great deal of room to move around in where as Cili Kaimas is rather open-plan. The top floor has several rows of wooden tables with heavy wooden seats and a nice roomy aisle which the traditionally clothed waiteresses prance along with heavy loads of large portioned meals which could often be considered as stodgy but are really just hearty and quite often necessary in the thick of a chilly winter or after a long day's sightseeing. If you are only moving from bar to bar then at least it will line your stomach!In the middle of the restaurant is a large gap in which you can see to the fountains and pools below. There are also tables downstairs but these are generally only opened up during high-season or busy times. Fish (koi carp as I remember) live in the aforementioned ponds, I don't think they end up on the dinnerplate though. Also on the bottom floor are the large and spotless toilets, several urinals and a couple of cabins ensure that it really is one of the roomiest toilets in a restuarant I've ever visited. I can't describe the women's toilets but I'm sure they are equally large!The restaurant is nicely decorated with old farm tools, wooden baskets and the like, also a cockerel sits in large glass cage on show (until recently it was an old lady knitting)The food is tasty and on par with Forto Dvaras, I would say. The beer is also some of the cheapest you can find in town, it can be served in glasses or come in bigger sized jugs (the more you buy the cheaper it gets), unless you order Svyturys though you are going to get the homemade beer (by the restaurant I think), which has a strange taste and doesn't really come recommended. Portions are generally pretty generous and the dishes being traditional are typical Lithuanian fare. You couldn't go wrong by ordering what I recommended people to order at Forto Dvaras if you'd like to refer to that review but oe particularly tasty speciality would that is done in this restaurant and that I would recommend is the potatocakes with salmon and sourcream.The food is well cooked and you'd struggle to go wrong, prices are pretty good - you are looking at about 5-7 pounds per person or perhaps a little more if you are buying a big meat platter and including a big jug of beer.Overall, I prefer Forto Dvaras but Cili Kaimas is very popular with locals and foreigners and is definitely recommended, just choose Svyturys instead of their cheaper homemade beer which is frankly lousy.Waiteresses speak Lithuanian, Russian, Polish and English and if you are lucky you might find one that speaks German.
Cili Pica is a notorious pizza chain in Lithuania and Latvia and has recently entered the market in Romania. Why is it that pizza chains with sit down restaurants are so much classier than McDonalds or other burger chains? Perhaps because the food is prepared freshly? The decor better? They're more similar to restaurants? There's a whole range of reasons and it's one of the reasons I prefer eating in pizza places, even chains than sitting eating a plastic burger from a cardboard box in a pool of somebody elses ketchup and spilt coca-cola.I've been in numerous Cili Pica's in Lithuania and Latvia over the years and the standard or prices have not differed, the one I'll be focussing on in this review though is the one located on the main street in old town Vilnius, which I believe is the most likely that you will come in to contact with.Address and phone number: Pilies g. 16, LT-01123 Vilnius, tel.: (5) 2609028So what's good about this place?Well, the thin based pizzas on offer are: enormous, tasty, fresh, cheap and served quickly no matter how busy or how late. The staff are friendly, efficient and can speak English, menus are also available in English as is there website which is not as detailed as it could be.You can expect the standard 20-30 pizzas that you'd find in any other pizzeria and the quality is superb. I recently read a review saying that standards had dropped but that must have only been for the journalist in question as I do not notice any difference. Piping hot, sizeable pizzas are served up with two jugs of sauce (Lithuanians and neighbouring Poles and Latvians have a major obssesion with coating their pizzas in tomato sauce and even some go as far as blasting it with ketchup.. disgusting!), I do quite like the garlic sauce though.The place has recently been re-fitted with even more seats and is a night clubbing haven because it's open until 06.00 in the morning on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays (other nights, it closes around 04.00 and perhaps 02.00 on Sundays), don't worry if you have really early morning munchies though because it opens up at 08.00 again to clean up the drunken party goers mess (which is surpisingly less than you'd imagine unless a particularly mischevious visiting stag do have come across it)Where ever you are in the Baltics, you're not far from Cili Pizza. Definitely recommended.This chain is probably my favourite Pizza chain in the world (I do have several preferred pizzeria restaurants but this is the best chain I've ever come across)
Forto Dvaras is a restaurant that is part of the Lithuanian"Fortas" chain and the one I'm reviewing is located in the center of the city at Pilies g. 16, Vilnius on the main street heading through old town.I've had occasion to go there a few times, they specialise in local cuisine and I can definitely recommend going there if you are looking to try something traditional.The restaurant is a rustic restaurant with wooden interior, waiteresses in traditional costumes, old Lithuanian music playing and a selection of local delicacies ranging from the slightly bizarre beer snacks like pig snout or pig ears to the every day beer snack like fried bread, there is also a large range of potato dishes, cepeliniai (which I have reviewed), chicken, fish, beef, pork dishes as well as salads, soups, desserts and certain regional dishes from Samogitia, Upper Lithuania, Suvalkija, Dzukija and the coast.The prices are very reasonable and the meals are cooked to perfection (unless there is a better way to cook pig ears that I'm not aware of).The choice of beer and Lithuanian spirits is also spot on and this restaurant provides you with a good welcome to the country at a very affordable price bang in the center of Lithuania. It is quite popular but it's pretty capacious and I can't see there not being room for you!Knowing the restaurant reasonably well and being even more familiar with the cuisine, having lived there, I would personally recommend (assuming that there are 2 of you for some reason):SVYTURIO EKSTRA 0,5l for 5,9lt (enjoy this tasty beer, nobody goes to Lithuania to drink wine)with it orderTHE SNACK PLATE WITH BEER (2 pers.)16,9ltSmoked pig ears, chicken wings, fried bread, fried chicken bits, fried bacon, cheese, horseradish sauce, garlicYou'll be surprised at just how tasty it is and you can let the squeamish one gauge on the chicken wings and fried bread or nibble the cheese like a mouse.ZEPPELINSTRADITIONAL 11,9ltWith meat, crackling-and-sour cream dressingorOLD CODGERs POTATO PIE 10,9ltWith crackling dressing, sour cream or traditional crackling-and-sour cream dressingandCOOKED AND BAKED BUCKWHEAT WITH MUSHROOM DRESSING 8,7ltDainava is a land of forests. You must try the "invention" of dzukelis - native resident of the woodlandA tasty and lighter weight meal, so that you can share the two meals and still not explode!There'll be no room for desert though unless you really are a monster!What I recommend is a nice glass of VILNIAUS STARKA (43˚) 4,9lt to help the digestion, for double fun, one of you could get ZALIOS DEVYNERIOS (35˚) 4,9lt and you can then taste to very traditional drinks!!If you really don't like the idea of the beer snacks then perhaps have a soup instead, you can't go wrong with the CHICKEN VELOUTE SERVED IN A BREAD LOAF 7,9lt4lt = 1 pound.As they say in Lithuania Skanus! (Bon Apetite)
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