If you are someone who enjoys good food or fine dining and loves discovering new cultures by eating local historical food, then a visit to Ertlio Namas restaurant is a must when visiting Lithuania’s capital Vilnius.
Sitting right in the heart of the old town, discreetly tucked away just behind Vilnius University and its impressive St. Johns Church, a historical Lithuanian cuisine restaurant Ertlio Namas serves dishes Lithuanian nobility used to eat.
As you enter Ertlio Namas, you’ll immediately notice that the atmosphere here is unlike in other restaurants – it feels like you’ve arrived to someone’s beautiful home and are being served by the host.
And it’s no surprise, after all, the name of the restaurant means ‘The House of Ertlis’.
Ertlio Namas serves food where recipes are inspired by historical manuscripts and archives, proofread by historians but presented in contemporary style.
Not only that, but also each course is accompanied by a short story about the specific ingredients used in the dish you are about to eat and the role these ingredients played in the development of Lithuanian food culture. The stories are passionately delivered by the very friendly and perfect English speaking staff.
Ertlio Namas chefs dig out all sorts of curious ingredients and stories associated with them from history books.
For example, the first time I dined here, I had a dessert made of some long-forgotten local fruit whose name I can’t even remember now… and it was a real surprise to discover a never-tasted-before local ingredient - the dessert was delicious!
Or look at this dish with a spoonfull of shiny yellow grain.
It is a testament to the belief once held by the nobility in Lithuania that yellow colour represents gold, and therefore one’s wealth. The more yellow ingredients one had in their dishes, the wealthier they could appear in the eyes of the visitor. So while the rulers of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania used the outrageously expensive saffron in order to show off their status and riches, the rest of the nobility simply used other yellow ingredients so as turn their dishes into that golden colour and make a suitable impression on their guests.
One might be surprised to see a chocolate dessert on the menu, but there it is.
The waiter reminds us that Grand Duchy of Lithuania and later Commonwealth of Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Kingdom of Poland was a vast country trading with faraway lands. So it is no wonder that such exotic ingredient as coco also reached the dinner tables of Lithuanian nobility.
The food in Ertlio Namas is seasonal, like in those days when the chefs of the nobility used to cook with what's available in the local market, the estate gardens or forests and supplement the seasonal ingredients with expensive imported spices and herbs.
So depending on which time of year you visit Ertlio Namas, you will see a different menu each time.
What a great excuse to visit this restaurant more often!
As mentioned before, Ertlio Namas is a fine dining restaurant serving 4 or 6-course tasting menu and paired wines.
So if you decide to spend an evening or an afternoon here, allow a few unrushed hours in order to enjoy a great company of family, friends or co-workers savouring delicious and unexpected Lithuanian history inspired dishes.
'It’s not about eating but about the entire process and historical context’, an online reviewer said speaking about Ertlio Namas.
And whoever wrote it, they were right – you will feel warmly welcomed to this historic house, you will learn some intriguing historical facts and stories about the food you are going to eat, you will taste some exquisite dishes and enjoy excellent wines.
It will be a moment to remember!
On a final note:
Ertlio Namas is a fine dining restaurant, which automatically means that prices here are at the higher end.
But in comparison with other fine dining restaurants in Vilnius, this restaurant is really reasonably priced. So if you are looking for a place for that special evening, Ertlio Namas might just be the right one.
I have visited the place twice in the last couple of years and while the food was lovely both times the dessert left the best impression.
If fine dining isn’t something you want to do while in Vilnius, there are lots of other medium priced locations, serving delicious local cuisine. For example, you can have a hearty meal in Etno Dvaras, also located in the heart of the old town.
Visit Vilnius, enjoy your life!
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