Simple yet well thought out menu. Familiar ingredients, but surprising combinations. Dinner at Bistro 1 Dublis – arguably the best restaurant in Vilnius, Lithuania – always leads to a discovery of something new and unexpected with head chef Deivydas Praspaliauskas confidently guiding his guests through the journey of flavours.
I visited this place late in 2013 right after it opened up, so it was about time to come back and refresh the good memories retained after the last visit. My friend and I were seated at a communal table together with other guests, mostly couples. It didn’t take us long to start a conversion with our table neighbours over a welcome drink – Kir cocktail with an unexpected twist – a dash of pine syrup. Food and wine pairing option was available, but wine list was not revealed, so after having a quick look through five course dinner menu we ended up choosing elegant Pinot Noir from Pfalz.
Open plan kitchen with a mirror above the prep table allowed guests to watch the team of chefs working in sync like an orchestra while plating the dishes. Plates with sliced beetroot bread that had become a signature of the chef were already lined up there along with big flat stones that were used for serving butter and buckwheat spread.
Chef’s compliment – four layer salad made of finely chopped tender catfish fillet, crunchy amaranth seeds, popping masago caviar, bread crumbs and heavenly light mayo – was a real appetite teaser. We unanimously agreed that we would be happy if nothing else but this salad was served for dinner.
Round ceramic bowls reminding of egg shells contained a splash of spring colours and a bouquet of seasonal ingredients: green and white asparagus, slow cooked egg and goats cheese with an addition of radish and mini paprika. Toasted pumpkin seeds sprinkled over the top were a bit dominant, but the explosion of sourness from pickled paprika bonded the flavours together.
Diced beef tongue, yellow beets and mushroom combination was hiding under pureed Jerusalem artichoke and sweet potato blanket. The dish had very subtle but recognisable flavours and was met by diners with satisfactory humming, bringing out the sentiments for home made meals. Tangy shallots marinated in beetroot juice were a real contrast to the rest of the ingredients, adding yet another dimension to the flavour composition.
The soup was a continuation of the theme of creamy textures. Chopped salmon, mushy buckwheat, lentils, parsnip and paprika cream were diluted with fish stock after serving the bowls to the table. It could had been a perfect winter warmer, but thinly sliced fresh cauliflower and crunchy sunflower sprouts added desirable spring freshness to the dish.
Slices of roasted duck breast were arranged on stewed onion and apple mash and served with perfectly matching tangy red wine, beetroot and black currant sauce. However, the real flavour sensation was caused by small drops of cep and prune puree and I only wished there had been more of it.
The line up of sorbet was quite unusual: rather than serving it in between of savoury courses, it was delivered right before the dessert. Lingonberry and wheatgrass with sprinkles of popping candy resulted in a real awakening of the taste buds. Very subtle sweetness with a hint of wheatgrass was so refreshing, that it was probably for the first time when I wasn’t questioning the need for sorbet in the course of dinner.
Sauteed rhubarb, crumbs of hazelnut bread, dry frozen chocolate and rhubarb ice cream was the dessert of the day. The tartness of rhubarb confronted the chocolatey bitterness and all of it was tempered down with smoothness of ice cream.
The chef Deivydas was doing rounds serving food to the tables and stopping by for a chat every now and again. He was telling that his work always starts with a sheet of paper, sketching out the menu based on the local produce. He finds it fun combining simple ingredients, not trying to astonish but rather join the flavours in a harmony that makes his guests leave happy and content.
Update: On Dec 2015 the restaurant relocated to new, more spacious premises and was renamed into Dublis. You can pop in to brasserie serving business lunch and a la carte or make a booking for set dinner menu.blog comments powered by Disqus