I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Vilnius, Lithuania this week as part of the jury for the Lithuanian Open Wine and Dessert Pairing Championship. That was an amazing experience in itself, but while I was there I wanted to experience some real, down to earth Lithuanian food.

My host, Arunas Matacius of Naive Chocolate suggested Leičiai, a tavern in the Old Town for a pub lunch. So naturally, I started with a local beer.

Beer at Leičiai, Vilnius

Unfortunately, in my excitement I forgot to make a note of exactly which local beer it was, but it was a very nice accompaniment to my lunch, which started off with this herring dish.

Herring at Leičiai, Vilnius

Now I’m not a big fish eater, but this was a very pleasant starter for sharing. Served with onions and potato, it was pleasant enough, if not something I would necessarily ordered for myself. Next up was a big plate of garlic fried bread with a cheese dip.

Fried Bread at Leičiai, Vilnius

This is a traditional Lithuanian snack served with beer and much more up my street. These chunky pieces of crispy bread weren’t especially garlicky, but were really rather good with a glass of beer on a cold November afternoon. If I have one criticism, it would be that they were perhaps a little too crunchy for my teeth. But that didn’t stop me eating more than my fair share.

Cepelinai Potato Dumplings at Leičiai, Vilnius

For my main course, I chose Cepelinai, traditional dumplings made with riced potato stuffed with mincemeat. Topped with pieces of bacon and served with a sour cream source, this was simply delicious – the perfect winter comfort food.

Although substantial, the dumplings were light and the mincemeat inside was more like sausage meat. It may not have been a particularly sophisticated dish but it was well made, tasty, and left me feeling full for the rest of the day. I can see why this is so popular in Lithuania.

Leičiai (Map)
Stiklių gatvė 4 Vilnius 01131, Lithuania
+370 5 260 9087

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