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Insider's view · Europe · lithuania · Vilnius

Insider’s View: Kristupas Baublys


Insider’s View: Kristupas Baublys

A selection of best-kept Vilnius nightlife secrets, best restaurants and the 'it' names of the Vilnius fashion scene by Kristupas Baublys, a Lithuanian radio voice and TV face, bar owner and advertising expert.

Speaking of the city's nightlife, it has to be said that, compared with other Baltic capitals - Riga, for one - the Vilnius nightclub scene is quite limited - and yet it does exist. Furthermore, once the nightlife picks up some speed, it is genuinely rich, even reckless. The Vilnius nightlife is markedly fragmentary; there is a certain underground element to it: certain types of people prefer certain nightlife venues, gathering around a small number of underground party spots. Interestingly, secret exclusive party venues have always existed alongside the 'official' ones throughout the history of the Lithuanian capital. New ones are still being launched; set mostly on the outskirts of the city centre, these types of places often don't even have names.

The In Vino (7 Aušros Vartu) wine bar, while open to the general public, is a somewhat typical Vilnius nightlife destination in this sense: open during the night hours, In Vino is a popular hangout among the culture circles. Celebrities - artists, writers, TV stars, actors, ad people and architects - are all frequent guests here. Some of them - I am not naming any names here - even live in the building that houses In Vino. The wine bar also shares its building, courtyard and address with the excellent Portobello bar.

At 11 Aušros Varty, a building within spitting distance from In Vino is home to the Absento Fėjos nightclub - a ridiculously tiny embodiment of luxury and opulence. The decor of the place is more of a small world of fantasy, or should I say - an environment inspired by the infamous bohemian tipple - meaning absinthe. Much talked about and surrounded by lots of somewhat embellished stories, Absento Fėjos - which, of course, translates as the Absinthe Fairies - is something of the city's court jester and a treasure in one. True enough, Vilnius had never seen anything like that before! The door policy of the Absento Fėjos, strict to the point of insanity - is completely and utterly gaga: even the President of the country would probably have to spend some time negotiating a compromise should she feel like paying a visit to the watering hole.

Pabo Latino (, Trakų 3) is another popular Vilnius social life venue, frequented by a somewhat more mature crowd than the usual youngster hangouts. Pabo Latino features regular Latin music and dance nights; the place is famous for its excellent cocktail bar.

All of these places have stood the test of time and are still going strong; apart from them, it has to be said, Vilnius does remind of an old-fashioned and fussy biddy in its outlook on nightlife and having a good time. Quite a few clubs have been forced to close down due to the discontents and complaints of the local residents. Isn't it strange that people choose to live in Old Town or another of the city's hot spots and yet complain of life being too noisy there?

Speaking of clubs and moving on to the city's restaurant scene, I would like to use this opportunity to outline an upcoming project which is unique in Vilnius, myself being the brain-father of the whole concept. Namely, the historical building at 6 K.Sirvydo Str., currently home to the Lithuanian Writers' Union, is also housing a freshly launched member's club under the name of Ex Libris. I cannot stress enough that we are indeed speaking of a 'member's club', not a 'gentlemen's club' here, as lovely ladies are more than welcome. Ex Libris has set itself a task of attracting the world's cultural elite - not by fitting up our loos with gilded toilet bowls but by developing an extremely high quality of concept and service. The crème de la crème of Russian culture has already recognised this spot in Vilnius as a potentially excellent change from the harsh Moscow life. Incidentally, representatives of Russian and Lithuanian culture have historically always been linked by warm friendship and cooperation, regardless of the official political relations between the two nations. This is an opportunity to rejuvenate the friendship. The outstanding chef from Southern France is currently developing the concept of the menu; a conservatory is being erected in the courtyard, eventually to become a smoking room for cigar lovers...

However, as we turn to the Vilnius restaurant scene, it has to be said that so many of its main figures have been resting on their laurels. Admittedly, René (13 M.Antokolskio) with the consistent quality of its creative Belgian/French cuisine and excellent Moules Provençales and Moules Moutarde is still one of the most popular restaurants in Vilnius or even the whole of the country. Balzac (, 7 Savičiaus) - is a fine restaurant serving authentic French cooking, but the newcomer on Vilnius restaurnt's scene is on the second floor called THE KITCHEN. An innovation it has brought to the Vilnius dining and wining scene is the communal table - not a novelty in the west, of course.

BISTRO 18 ( on Stikliu Str. is run by a truly amiable couple Ann Jennings and Saulius Taucius. They truly go out of their way to serve the sublime and impressively honest classic Bistro. This restaurant is a darling of the diplomatic community of Vilnius.

Jalta (17a Vykinto), set in the district of Žvėrynas, is an interesting alternative. Sharing its owners with the excellent Cafe de Paris and the new Gorky Bar, Jalta is a completely insane alternative place designed like a somewhat rough-looking Soviet-era flat. The food is prepared from locally-grown and seasonal produce.

The Lithuanian capital seems to be consumed by an epidemic of wine bars: every minute sees another one open its doors somewhere just around the corner and every minute sees one close down. Some of the wine bars are experimenting with tapas; however, In Vino is the only one that can call itself a proper tapas place in Vilnius. Ethnic food is another trend currently very popular in the city: there are lots of Indian, Uzbek and other restaurants, including some sushi places.

It is, of course, of the utmost importance to spruce oneself up accordingly to visit the best Vilnius places of entertainment and gastronomic pleasures. To this end, it is advisable to visit some Lithuanian fashion stores and studios, including:

Aleksandras Pogrebnojus and Vida Simanaviciute (A&V,;
Ieva Ševiakovaitė
and Jolanta Rimkutė (LT Indentity,;
Julija Žilėnienė
(Julija Fashion House,;
Sandra Straukaite
Juozas Statkevičius
(Juozas Statkevičius Couture,;
and the salon of the jewellery designer Jurga Lago (Yurga,




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