An underground dining room and a modern tasting menu in Lithuania’s Old town
Amandus looks like a small bistro from the outside but conceals a cavernous space below ground for diners ordering the tasting menu. The standard menu is only available upstairs and the tasting menu is only available for one sitting a night.
Dinner began with a selection of snacks that were waiting for us on the table as we arrived. A curd doughnuts with caramelised garlic and a slice of salmon was a chewy yet refreshing first bite before we moved on to sweet potato and chick pea crackers with a swirl of smoked catfish dip (a new taste experience unlocked) I had expected the dip to be quite strong but it was surprisingly smooth and mellow
As per Lithuanian tradition we had bread to start, the first was a Beetroot bread with a blackened flaky crust accompanied by a smaller slice of a dense seeded bread made without flour or yeast. They came with a whipped caramelised butter topped with hazelnut. I judge many a restaurant on how much effort they put into their bread and was pleased with these options. Bread here is hearty and they don’t skimp on the portion sizes. On a cold February day, you eat the bread!
Our first course was a tomato meringue sandwich stuffed with avocado. We had some debate about whether we have ever had a savoury meringue before and were stumped. It feels like something we certainly would have eaten but we couldn’t think of any examples.
Alongside it came a small bowl of mashed potato topped with a caramelised garlic, bell pepper chutney and crispy pork and potato skin. It had the flavours of a jacket potato with a meat free chilli. This is proper comfort food, they called it ‘Burning Love’ and are right to do so. This is what I would want to come in and eat after a day out in the cold.
For our fish course we had Scallops that had been cooked at a low temperature before being finished with a blowtorch. They came served with pickled daikon, watercress,a ponzu gel, pea purée, mustard grain and monkfish caviar and a sliver of Jalapeño
I had mixed feelings about this, it was like two dishes in one. The scallops, pea and watercress together made sense but the ponzu,daikon and jalapeno felt like they belonged on a different plate. All of the elements individually were fine but it didn’t quite hit the mark for me and I would have preferred the pea puree to be warm.
We didn’t see a menu before we started eating leaving our food options as a bit of a gamble so when a mushroom dish arrived in front of us my heart sank a little. I will eat most things but i am really not keen on mushrooms. I actively remove them from my food when they sneak in there- I ended up doing this a lot in Lithuania. In a bowl came dried shiitakes, portobello mushroom,soy beans, soy shoots, bamboo shoots. At the table this was then covered with a Chicken, miso and mushroom tea broth
I had a lot of trepidation about this but tried it anyway. I always think it’s worth another try as tastes change all the time The taste of mushrooms is generally ok for me but it is the texture I find particularly unpleasant. It was much better than expected, I ate most of the components, leaving out the bigger or squidgier mushrooms for Jordan to finish off later. In all fairness, it was pretty tasty but quite challenging for me!
Our main course was excellent, confit duck leg with baby fondant potatoes, yellow carrot spaghetti, an apple and ginger purée. Served with a 48 hr reduced chicken stock sauce with a hint of orange.
The duck was very well cooked, and came away from the bone easily. I expected it to be quite a heavy dish but the carrots and touch of orange kept it light despite it being quite a generous portion.
A palate cleanser followed of Marmalade, cream and a granita made from grapefruit, blood orange and Campari. This did the job perfectly and perked us right back up after a relatively quick succession of dishes
We finished with a story,
Our final dish was called ‘Hedgehog in the Snow’ and is a play on a popular cartoon about just that. As the swirls of liquid nitrogen cleared a bright pink creature emerged made of rose meringue and hiding a belly of lychee wine sorbet. Clumps of ice cream sat on top of a soft, slightly chewy almond cake. I always think the final course should be a showstopper and this was certainly one we will remember. Most importantly, it wasn’t just for show, the flavours balanced well and there were a nice variety of textures to keep it interesting.
To finish, we were given a bar of chocolate each to take home which made a nice change from standard petit fours.
Pilies g. 34, Vilnius 01123, Lithuania
Phone: +370 675 41191