Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, has become the country’s gastro hot spot for local and global foodies. Record-breaking visitor numbers during the annual Lithuanian Gastronomy Week, Bocuse d’Or membership, recognition by World Luxury Restaurant Awards, and newly emerging fine dining establishments are swiftly putting the city on the international gastronomical map.
November 21, 2023. Internationally acclaimed chefs, the delicate balance between gastronomical traditions and modern recipes, and increasing numbers of food travelers have turned Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, into a flourishing gastro hub over the last few years.
The Lithuanian Gastronomy Week’23, held on November 6-12, attracted a record-breaking number of participants and visitors. Almost fifty restaurants in Vilnius welcomed thousands of foodies to unearth the secret tastes of the city, learn about haute cuisine, and experience the talent of skilled chefs firsthand.
International recognition for upscale gastro ecosystem
Lithuania’s rapidly growing gastro scene was recently acknowledged at a global level—the country has become a member of Bocuse d’Or, one of the most prestigious gastronomical organizations rooted in deep culinary traditions. The membership will allow the country’s chefs to qualify for the world’s top culinary competitions and offer them opportunities to upgrade their experience and skills. It will simultaneously prompt the development of gastronomical tourism in Lithuania and enhance the country’s gastro status globally. Already the organization held workshops for chefs to share know-how and improve their craft.
As a city with a hefty concentration of restaurants, Vilnius is leading the country’s culinary expansion and integration in the global gastro landscape—a number of its restaurants have received globally recognized awards. Ertlio namas, a restaurant that recreates historical Lithuanian cuisine from the Medieval, Baroque, Renaissance, and Enlightenment periods, has been recognized in World Luxury Restaurant Awards 2023, receiving awards in three categories: Best Locally Sourced Produce Menu in Europe, Best Fine Dining Cuisine in Lithuania, and Best European Cuisine Globally.
“Awards like these put us on European and world culinary maps as they spread the word about us at a global level. Of course, it is also an honor for us to receive such recognition—to be acknowledged by experts is a testament to the quality of our work,” said Tomas Rimvydis, chef at Ertlio namas. “Speaking of gastronomy week, it is an important event because the gastro industry is based on experiences, while the recommendations are generally passed by word-of-mouth. Gastronomy weeks give people the chance to visit multiple places and spread the word about them. This thirteenth Gastronomy Week is large in extent and quality, and I personally hope for every week to be a gastro week in Lithuania so that people can experience fine dining more often.”
Imperial Restaurant, a premium-class restaurant located in the heart of Vilnius, also competed in the same awards, scoring the titles of Best European Cuisine in Eastern Europe, Best Gourmet Cuisine in Lithuania, and Best Luxury Hotel Restaurant in Lithuania.
New additions to the haute cuisine scene
While numerous restaurants in Vilnius are widely recognized as fine dining hot spots, new haute cuisine establishments are rapidly popping up all over the city. Elven, which fuses local, new Baltic, and Scandinavian cuisines, welcomes patrons to a world of Nordic gastronomy. Fresh locally sourced produce is a gateway to minimalist culinary explorations that boast of highly refined tastes.
Augustin invites patrons to rediscover Central and Eastern European flavors and delve into the local assortment of seasonal vegetables. Roasted zucchini with broccoli and fresh cucumbers, homemade rye bread, roasted cauliflower with onion jam, and young potatoes with smoked goat cheese are some of the introductions into the world of healthy fine dining.
Motif encourages Western European dining and culture practices—after tasting the a la carte menu, patrons will have the opportunity to extend their evening by listening to musical performances. Protėviai, on the other hand, seeks inspiration from open fire and ancestral legends. Recipes that have stood the test of time, community, quality grilled produce, and a simplistic menu of skillfully prepared protein and vegetables are the pillars that uphold this new fine dining restaurant.
At the same time, Vilnius’ gastro scene is open to additions from other cultures. For instance, new Ukrainian restaurants have found their footing in the competitive culinary landscape. Kyiv welcomes to experience modern dishes gathered from 27 Ukrainian regions: dumplings from Poltava, ribs from Lviv, banosh from Zakarpattia, and many more. Piana Vyshnia bar highlights the legendary cherry liqueur from Lviv and is already well-favored by Vilnius residents and guests.