Creative Locale: Gastro Walk 2016

Friday, February 12, 2016

Sometimes living in Lithuania can be a challenge (oh those dark winter days!), so I wanted to focus on forgetting about the challenges and enjoying the positives. To do so, I've started a monthly post (the second Friday of each month) that features the more creative side of Lithuania. In previous posts I've written about Uzupis, which is truly a creative mecca. For this series I wanted to focus on creative events, unique aspects of the culture or language, and cool places that I find around Lithuania. Previously I've written about Open Kitchen, the Beer Marathon, a Cat Cafe, the Lithuanian Design BlockPottery ClassCoffee Enthusiasm, A book fair, and a felting class.  If you have any suggestions of things to check out I'd love to hear them!

If you would like to participate in sharing creative things about where you live, tag your photos on Instagram or tweets on Twitter with #CreativeLithuania or #CreativeLocale. I'd love to see the creative side of every country! I'll share my favorite tweets and photos each month on social media and here on the blog.

The Gastro Walk, hosted by Sustainable Vilnius, was a one night event that aimed to introduce people to new restaurants that do their best to serve sustainable locally sourced food. For this event you could sign up for one of three walking routes and taste food from eight different restaurants. A total of 800 people signed up for this event, which took place yesterday from 4 until about midnight. From 4 til 8 pm you walked to the 7 restaurants along your chosen route and at 8 pm you were meant to meet at the final venue for dessert and voting.

We choose the Yellow Route, which had some old favorites and new restaurants that we've been wanting to visit. J and I (with Baby ISO tucked into his stroller) started out right at 4 pm, because we had only a limited time before bedtime. We didn't make it to all of the seven restaurants or the final venue, but we did make it to 5 different restaurants, which wasn't too shabby! Now, let's take a look at the restaurants we did make it too...


Leaf was our first stop of the evening and the most disappointing. Upon our arrival there were cups full of colorful sliced vegetables to dip into small cups of hummus. Then, trays of mini sandwiches were brought out, but because no staff introduced the food we were a bit unsure of what to eat or what we were eating. Overall, the sandwich here was boring and the serving was confused.

Le Butcher

Le Butcher served mini hamburgers with mushrooms and we ordered a beer to share. Upon entrance into Le Butcher we got our tickets stamped and we were ushered to a table and invited to order a drink. The waitress then told us about our meal and just a few minutes later our mini burgers were served. This was a much more enjoyable experience and the burgers were really flavorful and juicy! I'd go back and have a larger version of the same one. So, our second stop was much better than the first.

Bistro 18

This is one of our favorite restaurants in Vilnius, so we had high hopes for this mini meal. Just as in Le Butcher, we were invited to sit and order a drink and the waiter told us about the dish of the night. At Bistro 18 we were served a plate of mashed potatoes topped with slowly cooked beef cheek. The meat was beautifully cooked and was falling apart. It was excellent and a delicious stop for our third restaurant of the night.

Gunther Stub

Gunther Stub was another new one for us. Again we were invited to sit at a table, our tickets were marked, and the waiter said the food would arrive soon. This time though, our dishes were not explained and we weren't invited to order a drink (although I'm sure if we asked we could have gotten one). Because our dish wasn't explained I'm not 100% sure of what we ate, but I think it was some kind of pate with a carrot, beetroot, and parsnip (or daikon radish?) pickled salad. This dish didn't really do it for either of us. J didn't like the salad and I didn't like the pate, so we swapped. My not liking pate said nothing about the quality of the pate, it just has to do with that pate reminds me so much of cat food that it immediately turns me off. All I could think about was how much my cat, Oscar, would love it and that isn't a nice thought for me when I eat.

Sweet Root

Sweet Root is pretty much the reason we chose to walk the Yellow Route in this Gastro Walk. J and I have been wanting to try this restaurant since it opened, but when I was pregnant I was not an adventurous eater at all and right now the dinner time classes with bedtime. Needless to say, we were excited by the special hours, so that we could try one of Sweet Root's dishes.

Upon our arrival at Sweet Root we were invited to sit down and a member of the staff (perhaps the owner?) asked if we'd like a drink. He then explained the dish as basically an apple pie, but a twist on the class apple pie as it isn't sweet. For more details he referred us to the small card next to our place settings, which described where the ingredients to make this dish were from. The apples were even picked from Sweet Root's own orchard and all of the other ingredients were sourced locally. For me, Sweet Root understood the challenge set by Sustainable Vilnius and they were stand-out. Their take on the apple pie was delicious and I would love to eat it again. We were also surprised by a little bit of dessert, which was beetroot sorbet. It was an interesting and unique flavor. I really liked it, but I also love beets.

The last two stops on our route were meant to be EcoTako and Beatos Virtuve before joining the other routes at the final venue (Kongresu Rumai to eat dessert by Lab180). As we had expected when purchasing the tickets, we decided to skip these spots (though J really wanted to try Beatos Virtuve) because the weather was progressively getting worse (see photo below) and it was time to feed the very patient Baby ISO. 

Overall, I thought the event was a blast and I really enjoyed trying a couple of new restaurants, while walking all over the city. I had a little chat with one of the organizers while picking up the tickets and she said they'd likely be doing the event again sometime, and this time I'm hoping that it is organized for a different season. February in Vilnius has notoriously bad weather, so I'm kind of surprised that so many people decided to participate and that the chefs were able to make food based on mostly local products (nothing is growing here now!). I would definitely participate in this event again.

Have you been to an event like this? Would you? What cool things are going on in your area now?

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