Firstly, because the cuisine lovingly prepared by Martynas at Džiaugsmas is a joy for everyone longing for authentic and mouth-watering food presented in a creative way. Also, all of the main ingredients used here are Lithuanian. “You could say that we are Tymo Market’s restaurant – about 70% of the products we use are sourced from there,” Martynas reveals.
What’s more, the restaurant is improving not just year by year, but month by month. “I notice that we are curing meats and pickling vegetables better now. I can confidently present Džiaugsmas’ dishes in the knowledge they are now the closest they could be to the dishes I dreamt of before opening this restaurant,” Martynas shares. It is no secret that the ideas behind Džiaugsmas had been percolating in Martynas’s head for three years prior to its opening.
And with last year’s award under their belt, the restaurant is now working with a greater confidence. On top of which, the restaurant buzzes with a truly international clientele, which has only helped elevate its already great atmosphere. “It’s hard to believe that everything is finally running as smoothly as butter – there is no more stress, neither in the kitchen, nor in the dining area,” says Martynas happily.
“My goal with this restaurant is simple – to present dishes that are made from the best quality Lithuanian-grown and raised products. I waited for this opportunity a long time and it was my dream. Now it is my daily joy,” enthuses Chef Martynas about Džiaugsmas. He personally knows every farmer whose products end up on the restaurant plates.
Sharing is essential to the Džiaugsmas experience. Indeed, the chef himself recommends that diners share their dishes amongst their group, in that way experiencing a greater range of flavours: “I suggest ordering a number of different dishes and then sharing them in the family style.” There is also a degustation menu which is composed of 9 courses based on à la carte for 60 EUR/person. The chef even encourages diners to use their hands instead of cutlery. Simplicity is central to the restaurant’s concept, as are satisfied customers – portion sizes at Džiaugsmas do not disappoint.
All of this is nicely supplemented by natural wines – if you haven’t tasted them yet, Džiaugsmas is an excellent place to start. And there’s no threat of getting lost in the wine list, as Sommelier Karolis Juzėnas is always on hand to greet and assist guests.
Cod fritters – EUR 8, toasted bread, cured pork fatback, apple jam – EUR 6, beef ribs from Mieženskienė’s farm – EUR 30 (for 2 people), beef tartar, fried candied bones, smoked egg sauce, onions, elderberry capers – EUR 15, schnitzel – EUR 15.
The restaurant’s chef and conceptual maestro – Martynas Praškevičius – is one of Lithuania’s highest-ranking chefs. He not only believes that you can pick up cooking skills through practice without the need of a culinary education, he is the embodiment of that idea. As he explains, “I have never worked at a Michelin rated restaurant, nor any famous or fancy restaurant.” He just remained committed to his goal of becoming a chef, dedicating all his time, effort and attention to making this a reality.
He and a friend first opened the legendary café Stereo 45 on Jogailos Street. He then went abroad to gain further culinary experience. Upon returning, he began to work at the popular Asian Restobar Briusly. He then learned and experimented a great deal along with Ali Gadžijevas and Alfas Ivanauskas on the culinary project Kitchen Myth Busters. The group then parted to pursue solo projects, with Martynas’ first project being Stebuklai (together with partner Martynas Šlikas). Džiaugsmas, his second project, opened its doors two years ago and has since been rated best restaurant in the country for two years in a row.