No. 7Sweet Root
The restaurant Sweet Root, which has been inspired by the seasons of the year and has a local cuisine, is selected one of the best restaurants of the country for a second consecutive year and both times it is among the best ten.
The founders of the restaurant, Sigitas and Vilius Žemaičiai and Agnė Marcinauskaitė, have accepted the challenge of creating dishes only from local products, therefore, this restaurant is among those in Lithuania which are mostly dependent on local nature and the weather.
THE STRONGEST SIDE.
The restaurant’s owners appreciate an open cuisine and follow the rhythm of nature. As a result, they pay tribute to local products. Besides, Sigitas and Agnė (or at least one of them) are at the restaurant all the time and serve visitors.
Even though novelties in gastronomy are interesting to Sigitas, Vilius and Agnė, however, while creating the restaurant’s concept they first of all tried to go back to the roots. “Returning to the roots” in no way means a traditional Lithuanian cuisine. Here, food is served in a modern manner, and the genuine character is determined by products, Lithuanian traditions and a desire to restore the emotion to dishes and the dinner time.
In this manner, after long reflections a restaurant was born, and together with it, a name. By the way, sometimes Sigitas is asked why all attention is focused on Lithuanian products and their possibilities, but the restaurant’s name is in English. In such a case he reminds us of the idea of openness of this place, and that it is through openness that we can show the world the real identity of our country. Therefore, the language of the restaurant’s name does not really matter. The message on the table is much more important, and everyone can understand it.
By the way, the staff team here is also open to the world. Sweet Root regularly has trainees from abroad. During summer, two Australians and a Portuguese man work here; the Portuguese man has already become a staff member of the restaurant. Before, the restaurant had trainees – young kitchen masters from Turkey, Spain and Italy. Thus the internal language at the restaurant and marking in the kitchen are usually only English.
Before the restaurant was opened, the owners spent a lot of time in order to find reliable local farmers. As Sigitas says, sometimes it is more difficult to find a genuine local product than to receive a wide assortment from other countries. At the same time, it takes additional effort not only to find a local product, but also to deliver it to the restaurant. However, a list of farms that Sweet Root works with has grown quite a lot by now.
Sigitas and Agnė focus a lot on goods found in wild nature. They mostly look for plants that they can use in forests and meadows close to Kernavė as well as close to Širvintos.
Besides, following the opening of Sweet Root, they also started another project – their own garden. Now, the garden is full of various herbs (from sage, hyssop, marjoram, oregano to lovage, lemon balm, tarragon, etc.). The restaurant’s owners also grow vegetables and berries. They use all of that in their restaurant during the season, however, they also store a stock of ingredients for the winter.
A TASTING DINNER.
A tasting dinner of Sweet Root comprises 7 dishes, a “greeting” glass, mildly carbonated or table water, brewed or cold coffee and tea as well as several one-bite “stories”. The price of the tasting dinner – EUR 65 per person. The dinner lasts about 2.5-3 hours. This place is perfect for those who like perfectionist minimalism and want to learn about a non-traditional local cuisine.
The tasting dinner reveals a full palette of our country’s colours. Owner Sigitas and chef Justinas with his team seeks to restore the emotion to a plate of food. Sweet Root’s “creators” consistently educate customers and tell them about local ingredients, where they come from, how they grow and when their quality is the best. The staff always uses goods of nature whenever they are of the best quality, and after the season, they look for other products the quality of which is the best. At this place, only bread and butter with a rural fragrance do not change.
This is a book named Proud of Lithuania: A Fairy-tale by Sweet Root. In this publication, authors speak about what they most often tell the restaurant’s visitors during dinners, just a little more extensively. The book’s purpose is to restore respect to Lithuania through the table. The book is published in two languages and it will be very visual.
A look at the restaurant’s menu right away reveals that a different wine is matched to each of the 7 dishes of the tasting menu. To address this question, the team of Sweet Root is helped by Vyno Klubas (The Wine Club). Andrius from the club knows the concept and the cuisine of this restaurant perfectly, therefore, having received a description of a new menu, he chooses several wines, which he and the restaurant’s team later on taste together with the dishes to select the ideal combinations. If you want to taste the menu together with assorted wines, you have to pay EUR 40 in addition to the price of the tasting dinner. However, you can also order a different wine by glass or bottle from a special wine list.
The author of the restaurant’s interior is a sister of one of the restaurant’s founders – Agnė – Jurgita Marcinauskaitė (Architects’ Studio 2XJ). She created a clean, pastel in colour and not-overloaded interior which does not divert attention from the plate. Because here, it is the plate which is a local highlight with all its colours and emotions.
Since the very founding of the restaurant, not a single dish on the restaurant’s menu has been repeated, even though the tasting menu is fully changed about 6 times a year. Another interesting detail, even if minor – this year, Sigitas sold an espresso coffee machine because he understood that it was not in conformity with the restaurant’s ideology and too quick. Thus now, coffee here is prepared manually with a much longer ritual.