WHY WORTH VISITING? Under Justinas's leadership, the restaurant fundamentally changes its concept, offering a three-course à la carte dinner for 49 euros, including an appetizer, main course, and dessert. Guests can also choose from six appetizers, five main courses, and two desserts.
"I think piling all 500–700 g of food on one plate is no longer modern, and increasingly, it becomes an outdated practice. However, we are talking about restaurants that should be interested in sending a slightly different message about food and contributing to the development of a sustainable food culture. Dining at '14Horses,' the guest gets more different products, which is healthier, and it's not as boring as a large plate of food that you halfway through think you no longer want, but you have to finish because you paid for it," Justinas explains the concept.
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT THE MENU? Having worked in fine dining restaurants before, Justinas now aims to create accessible everyday food at "14Horses." After closing the "Sweet Root" restaurant, where he was the longtime chef, Justinas worked at the bakery "Grūdas" in the "Senatorių pasažas." "When the chef position opened at '14Horses,' it seemed interesting to return, but not to create tasting menus with tweezers, but more to establish a symbiosis between the bakery and the restaurant, known as comfort food," says Justinas. He emphasizes that comfort food, for him, includes floury ingredients, bread, pasta – things that people associate with simple food.
Guests sampling appetizers at "14Horses" will feel that they are created in collaboration with the nearby bakery, something not every restaurant can afford. "Appetizers are eaten with hands, and you don't have to worry about making a mess on the table; it's allowed here. We want guests to feel at home. Main courses are served on two or three plates, leaving the main ingredient – meat or fish – alone, while cold and hot side dishes are served separately without mixing them. This allows guests to share side dishes and creates movement and interest at the table when you can ask the person next to you to try their side dish. Sharing is what gives life to dinner. Dessert is the only dish reserved for you alone," explains the kitchen chef about the seasonally changing menu.
GUESTS RETURN FOR... "This is probably the fifth version of this restaurant. Our new stage has only been going on for five months. It has its drawbacks and advantages: sometimes guests need a long explanation that this is a different '14Horses' with a different idea and a different chef. On the other hand, we attract guests because we are part of the larger 'Senatorių pasažas,' which has been counting its fourth year. Currently, we welcome quite a few spontaneous guests, and we want that because with a more flexible format and a 100-seat restaurant, we don't aim to be a place where you must reserve a table in advance," says Justinas.
WHO WORKS IN THE KITCHEN? Justinas started working in restaurant kitchens when chef Deivydas Praspaliauskas opened his first restaurant, "Lauro lapas." "At that time, I was still studying at a vocational school, and I started with fine dining," he recalls. Later, Justinas worked for a long time at the "Sweet Root" restaurant, where he claimed to have found his line and stuck to it.
It is challenging to find one word describing Justinas's profession, as his workday consists of two parts: half the time, he dedicates to the bakery "Grūdas," and the other half to the "14Horses" restaurant. Justinas calls himself a chef with Excel – he loves precision, systems, precise work organization, order, and clarity in the kitchen, where everyone knows when to come and what to do. These qualities were developed not only by participating but also several times winning the title of the best chef in various competitions, doing internships in foreign places with "Michelin" stars, and participating with the national team in international competitions.
The restaurant "14Horses" is run by his team. "I notice that the kitchen team usually consists of people of the same generation, and it is getting younger, while I am getting older," laughs the chef.
Photos by Robertas Daskevičius