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In the kitchen at Nineteen18, Vilnius (photo: Nineteen18)

Tallinn and Vilnius dominate new White Guide Baltic

The highly rated Nordic dining guide’s latest foray into the Baltics heralds dynamic and exciting new restaurants.

The Top 30 Baltic restaurants of the year have been announced live at an event in Tallinn, Estonia, with the chefs and owners who were named in the list delighted at being rated so highly.

Compared to last year the list features eight new entries, five of which opened their doors only during the year – and three of these made it into the top eight.

In all, the Master Level segment expanded from ten restaurants last year to 16 across the three countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. However, three of last year’s top 30 are no longer in business.

Arguably, Estonia dominates the top 30 list, with more than half of the best of the Baltics being located there.

But right across the region there is a trend not just for local food but for truly adventurous and little-known tastes. Yet it’s also true that dining in the Baltics can be a risky business.

“A conservative gourmand might find the developments in the Baltics somewhat confusing,” states Aivar Hanson, publisher of the guide in the Baltics.

“Far from a smooth road to success, the scene is passionate and dramatic, with great successes and equally public failures, grandiose openings and stunning closedowns. But the golden age certainly continues for adventurous foodies.”

Professional forager
The highest rated brand-new restaurant on the list, coming second overall, is Nineteen18, which opened in Vilnius only in mid-September.

Located at the Hotel Pacai in the Lithuanian capital’s Old Town, the restaurant is owned by Danish businessman Niels Peter Pretzmann and run by Chef Matas Paulinas, who researches unique and authentic Lithuanian flavours with unusual, wild and seasonal ingredients.

Most of the produce comes from the restaurant’s own 400-hectare farm near Vilnius or come courtesy of ‘professional forager’ Ieva Šidlaite who seeks out the best that wild nature offers at each turn of the season.

Nineteen18’s tasting dinner with between 11 and 15 dishes is billed as “a special journey through Lithuania that guests are unlikely to have ever seen or tasted before”.

“This achievement puts Lithuania on the world gastronomy map, which increases the interest in our culture and history,” comments Paulinas.

The White Guide Baltic Top 30 restaurants (some share the same rating and position)

Global Master Level
1. NOA Chef’s Hall, Tallinn, Estonia 91/37
2. Nineteen 18, Vilnius, Lithuania [New] 88/36
3. Sweet Root, Vilnius, Lithuania 85/36
3. Ö, Tallinn, Estonia 85/36

Master Level
5. Vincents, Riga, Latvia 88/35
6. 180 Degrees, Tallinn Estonia [New] 86/35
7. Juur, Tallinn, Estonia 82/34
8. Ore, Estonia [New] 80/34
9. Alexander, Muhu Island, Estonia 82/32
10. Art Priori Tallinn Estonia 79/32
10. Tchaikovsky, Tallinn, Estonia 79/32
12. Džiaugsmas, Vilnius, Lithuania 77/32
12. Rannahotelli restoran, Pärnu, Estonia 77/32
12. Restoran 3, Riga, Latvia 77/32
15. Monai, Klaipeda, Lithuania 76/32
16. Uoksas, Kaunas, Lithuania 75/32

Very Fine Level
17. Horisont, Tallinn, Estonia 81/30
18. NOA, Tallinn, Estonia 78/30
19. Telegrafas, Vilnius, Lithuania I77/29
20. Ribe, Tallinn, Estonia 76/29
21. Põhjaka Mäeküla, Estonia 75/30
22. Leib, Tallinn, Estonia 75/29
23. Mon Repos Peakoka Korrus, Tallinn, Estonia 73/32
24. Monte, Tallinn, Estonia, [New] 73/31
25. Tabac, Tallinn, Estonia 73/31
26. GMP Pühajärve Pühajärve, Estonia 73/30
26. Hõlm, Tartu, Estonia 73/30
28. Kannas Annas, Latvia, 72/30
29. Parrot MiniBar, Tallinn, Estonia 72/29
29. Mantel ja Korsten, Tallinn, Estonia 72/29