This is one of the brightest debuts in the restaurants’ business in the entire Lithuania and, undoubtedly, a new gastronomic leader in Kaunas. The cuisine of Nüman – a seasonal Scandinavian DNA with a priority towards fine dining, without a la carte and operating of the principle of tasting dinners.
Here, dinners not only impress you with their tastes, but also play with your feelings and emotions. This restaurant is an excellent example of a debut without any advertising, when appreciation comes naturally, by word-of-mouth. And the most interesting fact is that this place would not be the way it is without a few absolute coincidences.
The restaurant’s owners Gitana and Tadas Survilos had the space, which is now called Nüman, for over 20 years, and even though they kept thinking about opening a second family restaurant (during the warm season, they work at their restaurant Nendrinė Pastogė located close to the town of Šventoji), they would postpone this plan every time.
Finally, the couple decided to open their own restaurant in Kaunas and started renovating the building. The demolition of the majority of walls opened the spaces which inspired them to create Danish interior.
On the other hand, in parallel, there was the life of chef Matas Paulinas, full of ideas and energy. He returned to Lithuania after almost 10 years abroad, where he gained experience in Noma (Copenhagen), a restaurant which was acknowledged as the best restaurant in the world several times, as well as other high-level gastronomic places, and started to think about the necessity to have a similar place in Kaunas.
He found Gitana and Tadas Survilos through a familiar furniture maker who was making furniture for the future Nüman at the time, and the couple had already finished the preparatory works and were about to open the doors of the restaurant to visitors. However, a meeting of these three people and a five-hour-long conversation turned everything upside-down again.
Here, every detail is important because, according to Nüman, only the entirety can grant the strongest experience. The restaurant’s purpose – from the very first minute, to awake senses and emotions, which would accompany visitors for a while after the dinner.
Into the tasting menu, Matas includes only those dishes which, he believes, are worth sharing with visitors. There is no a la carte here, however, a few dishes are prepared all the time. For instance, a Nüman beetroot eaten with tweezers, which has a very intense and long-standing taste. This is a real bomb of aromas which illustrates very well the restaurant’s philosophy.
To create a daily-changing menu, local and seasonal products are used, however, this is not a rule – because the world has so much to offer!
The restaurant’s focus is on recognising and disclosing unique features of a product and its nature. In the kitchen, Matas likes to explore each product and its possibilities. As he says himself, he probably often explores deeper than necessary not only in the kitchen, but also in other areas of life. Still, the chef’s precision creates this unique experience which the visitors enjoy during dinners.
To accompany the food, the restaurant offers biodynamic, natural wines. The taste of natural wine reminds of apple juice, cider and sometimes even vinegar. Producers of such wine do not use any fertilisers on grapes and they little interfere with wine fermentation processes. The restaurant also has a list of traditional wines.
This is an experience which is always and every time interesting and impeccably pleasant. The restaurant’s purpose is to become a place of “fine dining”. However, a benchmark has already been set high with the opening of Nüman in Kaunas. Now, briefly about what to expect if you arrive to have dinner at one of the best restaurants in Lithuania in 2017.
You can choose from several options of a tasting dinner: a 3-dish dinner (EUR 20), a 6-dish dinner (EUR 40) or the Full Experience, which consists of at least 10 dishes (EUR 60).
Even though this place wants to claim the “fine dining” title, however, here, only food and service are “fine dining”. The atmosphere here is casual, and people are invited to relax and enjoy. This is in no way a restaurant of white tablecloths.
Matas Paulinas is a chef which is quite young but very ambitious. He gained his culinary experience during almost 10 years spent in Denmark. There, he pursued his career. Finally, he joined the team of Noma, which has been acknowledged the best restaurant in the world several times. The chef-in-chief and co-owner of this restaurant Rene Redzepi became one of the most important teachers of Matas. Besides, M. Paulinas learnt a lot from Frenchman Joel Robuchon and former sous chef of Noma, Sammuel Nutter. With the latter, we worked a lot directly and, after employment in Noma, Matas followed Sammuel when he opened his own restaurant Bror.
When the chef returned to Lithuania, he explored the local market for half a year and had a plan to open his own farm which would supply products to restaurants. He even made a few preparatory steps for that. However, through a coincidence, he met the owners of the restaurant Gitana and Tadas and found his place on Nemunas Street. Here, Matas fulfils his potential and believes that this is only the beginning.
Nüman is located on Nemunas Street. The Nemunas River flows nearby. Thus the origin of the restaurant’s name is quite clear. However, when you pronounce the name, you can hear “new man”. This is as if a hidden symbol of a new man who knocked on the door of Gitana and Tadas Survilos. Yes, we mean the chef, Matas Paulinas.
HISTORY OF THE BUILDING.
The history of the building, where the restaurant is located, is indeed very long. It’s been about 20 years as the building belongs to the Survilos family, but even before that it housed very different enterprises. During the times of president Smetona, the building housed a Jewish meat shop, in the Soviet times it housed a shop buying bottled packaging and a grocery shop. Later on, it housed a driving school, a yarn shop, etc. However, before establishing a restaurant here, the owners as if re-built the building anew. Some residents of Kaunas are even surprised and say that they have never seen this building and that it was not here before.
By the way, at the restaurant, in a mirror cube (if you’ve been wondering what it is), Matas is growing potherbs under special lamps. He is also growing them at home. But this still isn’t enough for him. To find more tastes and inspiration, he travels to look for them in forests and meadows.