WHY VISIT? Firstly, Stikliai has something new to offer. It is true that the bijou French aesthetics and restrained luxury have remained. However, there is a distinctly more Lithuanian flavour to the dishes themselves, with this shift in culinary direction perhaps the most radical change in the entire history of the hotel and restaurant since its establishment in 1987.
BRIEF MENU DESCRIPTION. Gerdvilas Žalys, part of a new generation of Vilnius chefs, has taken the helm and will use his extensive experience abroad to achieve an ambitious new target. “When you are in a hotel restaurant, it is sometimes difficult to know which country you are in,” Žalys explains. “While the menu may be interesting, it probably doesn’t reveal any local flavours. So, firstly, I want the à la carte menu at Stikliai to reflect the history of Vilnius, the aura of its Old Town and local legends,” continues Žalys, who has replaced chef Linas Bražinskas after more than 20 years.
When creating the concept for the new menu, Gerdvilas took account not only of local history and the search for culinary representations of Lithuanian identity, but also of the experience that he seeks to create by offering dishes for sharing, a degustation menu, refined service rituals, and more.
Stikliai guests can choose from the à la carte menu or go for a 6-dish degustation menu (EUR 75 /person). The latter is based on the à la carte menu and is an excellent introduction to the new flavours of Stikliai. To realise his new vision, the chef builds on his classical training in cooking.
“I use French techniques and I appreciate elegance on a plate, but the flavours are Lithuanian. To achieve this, I even refuse to use ingredients such as olive oil or basil that are not native to Lithuania. Instead, I use thyme, dill, nettles, etc. I still use certain imported products, such as salmon or king crab. Why? Historically it has always been possible to catch them in Vilnius and their flavours are totally acceptable to our palate,” Žalys says.
The kitchen supports local farmers and most of the fresh vegetables, berries and herbs are supplied from a 2.5 ha restaurant farm in Dubingiai that follows subsistence agriculture practices. Stiklai’s manager, Romualdas Zakarevičius, travels there nearly every day and makes sure that only products which are in peak condition are used in Stiklai’s dishes.
CULINARY HITS. Venison fillet à la Rossini with grilled porcini and truffle sauce – EUR 55, chocolate sphere with passion fruit – EUR 18, handmade ravioli stuffed with bread and smoked eel with lightly smoked white wine sauce – EUR 25.
CHEF. Gerdvilas Žalys trained as a chef abroad and learnt from the stars of gastronomy. He enjoyed success abroad and was not planning to come back to Lithuania, although he did remark to his girlfriend that “If I return to Lithuania, it will only be to Stikliai.” It did not take long for this message to travel, and soon enough Žalys was working where he had always wanted to.
Žalys grew up in Sweden and trained as a chef in France. He has worked in London and Stockholm. In France, he studied under and worked for the gastronomy legend Joël Robuchon, who revealed French cuisine to the rest of the world. He worked at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Saint-Germain for three years, when the famous chef was at the peak of his celebrity status and had 32 Michelin stars to his name. L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Saint-Germain was among the top 15 restaurants in the world, and Žalys rose to the position of sous-chef de cuisine.