Having had a productive week and gotten a lot accomplished (and also having not spent much money through the week), I decided to go get another good dinner. Thanks again to the Lonely Planet website, I found there were a lot of higher-end restaurants in Vilnius, so I decided to give another one a shot. I discovered (and booked a dinner at) Sweet Root, in the Užupio Republic district. The dinner was stunning - easy and uncomplicated, yet very refined and delicious!
Everything was rather calm to start. I was seated at a great table in the corner, able to look out at the whole restaurant, including the kitchen and pass. As a single diner, it was great to pass the time between courses to get to people-watch and see what was going on.
You can see on my table the card that was give (more detail on this is below). On the card was simply just a long and random list of ingredients. They weren't grouped or sorted in any way in particular. This created a kind of game during dinner - the waitstaff would bring a dish, introduce the name of the course, and inform you of its contents. Then you go back to the card and tick the items that were used, and as you went through dinner, you would slowly sort out all the ingredients that were used throughout the several courses.
During this brief quiet time before the meal, as one of the servers was refilling my wine glass, he clued me in to the style of the dinner service: They would book tables to start at certain collective times throughout the night, and then keep each table in sync with the courses as they came out. Kind of an ingenious plan: it would allow the kitchen to prep the same course 12 times, then move on to the next - rather than having the keep track of 4 or 5 separate tables and where they were through the menu.
The second course - before (left) and after (right) - a soup/stew with carp and cucumber, topped with a disc made of kohlrabi. As you crunch the disc open, the aromas of everything mixing together hits you and you can't help but to get excited, both from the drama, the smells, and the appearance. The exquisite taste was just one of the sensory parts of the dish.
On the left, a beverage made from grains of the sourdough bread at the start of the meal. Think of it like a fresh/raw/unfermented wort of a beer. It's just the grain mash, without the aged yeast that create the carbonation and alcohol. From all the time I've spent homebrewing, this was both a familiar taste and something altogether new and surprising.
On the right, a pair of bites based on quail. One with lingonberries, one with beetroot and plums.
To finish the meal off, I was offered these "Sweet bites." Like the amuse-bouche at the beginning, but something to add one last little flair to the meal.
Ever a fan of the drama, the bites weren't just placed in front of me, but scattered about the table (as show in the image on the left). A small roll of lightly toasted pastry dough, a small macaroon and a small macaron (there's a difference!). All were delicious!
On the left, below, a view from my table of the main door and the pass.
On the right, both the ingredient list-game and the actual course-by-course menu (only given to me at the conclusion of the meal). Up front, I was a little frustrated to not have the actual menu, and for the first couple courses, I was using my phone to navigate to the website. Eventually, I stopped caring about having all the information and just wanted to enjoy the food. It was delightful to disconnect from having that structure and just enjoying the courses as they all came out.