No. 6Šturmų švyturys

TOP 30 PLACEMENT. Šturmų Švyturys is the only restaurant in the country serving wild Lithuanian fish (all of which are fresh and never frozen). There are two Šturmų Švyturys restaurants. One is in Šturmai, a village on the Curonian Lagoon, and it is at the harbour in Šturmai that the fresh fish served in these restaurants start their journey from net to plate. The second restaurant is in the Užupis area of Vilnius. Both restaurants offer guests an unforgettable experience, and it is therefore not surprising that Šturmų Švyturys has been held in increasingly high regard by the Good Food Academy. It comes in sixth this year, having been ranked fifth in the two previous years.

Facts

Head chefČeslovas Žemaitis
Managing directorČeslovas and Asta Žemaitis
Type of cuisineLithuanian wild fish restaurant
Working hoursin Vilnius I-VII 12:00-22:00, Ventės Ragas I-VII 13:00-21:00
AddressUžupio g. 30, Vilnius ir Ventės Ragas, Šturmai
SinceŠturmai – 2004, Vilnius – 2014
Capacity (seated)45 guests
Average hot dish priceEUR 20 (starter – EUR 12)
Terraceavailable

Place in 2016 No. 7
Place in 2017 No. 5
Place in 2018 No. 5

WHY VISIT? Česlovas and Asta Žemaitis have created a special space in Šturmai, on the shores of the Curonian Lagoon. Here you can relax and enjoy the peaceful natural surroundings, the harbour, and the wood-fired oven where the fresh fish, selected by guests from an ice bed counter, are cooked. Šturmų Švyturys is probably the only place where you can learn about seasonal Lithuanian wild fish and discover their unique flavours in combination with products from local forests and kitchen gardens.

In addition to the food, another distinctive feature of the restaurant is its wine cellar, which features wines from premium vintners in Austria and Germany, and niche wine producers in the Champagne region. Over more than a decade, these exclusive European winemakers have become close friends of Česlovas and Asta. Because they work through personal contacts rather than intermediaries, the restaurant owners can offer top quality food paired with exceptional wines, all at reasonable prices. Another intriguing feature of these restaurants is the absence of music. Instead you are encouraged to listen to the sounds around you – in Šturmai these might come from the pristine natural surrounding, while in the Vilnius restaurant it could be the bustle of the kitchen.

BRIEF MENU DESCRIPTION. Šturmų Švyturys’ menu changes daily and is perhaps the shortest menu of any restaurant in Lithuania, but every day offers a unique taste experience. The menu is always comprised of fish soup, two starters, one main dish and a dessert. The food in Šturmų Švyturys arrives at the table on large plates designed for sharing, and this is part of the overall joint eating experience.

The ideas for the menu come from the heart and head of Česlovas Žemaitis. According to him, the fish itself directs the combinations that are served. The side dishes here are nothing short of a miracle and will surprise you with their boldness and creativity. The key is to trust in the experience and feeling of Žemaitis, Lithuania’s leading fish expert.

CULINARY HITS. Fish soup is the one dish that is always on the menu. However, each time it is different as the taste depends on the type of fish that has been caught that day, and the season.

CHEF. “Real life. Real relationships. Real love. Real fish. Real food.” This is how Česlovas Žemaitis, Šturmų Švyturys’ chef, describes his work and philosophy. His day starts at the market or on the farm from where vegetables are delivered to the restaurant. He can talk forever about the local people who collect forest produce and their families, or about the hard work of the fishermen. But most of all he can talk about the fish displayed every day on a fresh bed of ice, and about the smells from the kitchen that he is not afraid to reveal because this is the smell of freshness, water, wind and home.

Česlovas is a real fisherman, a modest, straightforward man who looks as if he has stepped straight out of an old film about hardened Curonian tribesmen (ancient dwellers of the Baltic Sea shore). And he calls the women who work at the restaurant - whether they are tending the fire in Šturmai or maintaining the spirit of the Curonian Lagoon in Vilnius - the lagoon pixies.