Surreal or simply divine?

  • 2008-05-22
  • By Adam Mullett

ALL AROUND GOODNESS: Rene has good food, good beer and the service is not bad either

VILNIUS - There aren't many bars in Vilnius that do a theme really well. You get places that have nice decorations on the outside or a themed bar-back (a la Brodvejus or Transylvania), but few leave an impression on you that makes you swoon.
Belgian beers have constantly been touted as amongst the best in the world and there is a good reason for that 's they are simply amazing. Now one new bar in Vilnius has both a perfect theme and good beer. This bar is Rene.

If you haven't heard of it, don't worry 's normally it relies on word of mouth to advertise. It is part of the bar's charm.
The sign on the bar reads "Alaus Virtuve," meaning "Beer Cuisine." That is precisely what you get no matter how you interpret it 's amazing beers with amazing food.  Most of the time, they are magically entwined in the kitchen by the chefs.

What you get on your table before you eat and drink is somewhat of a pleasant surprise. Looking to the middle, you might be interested to see a tin can with pencils in it. Put two and two together and you realize that the table is your canvas and you are the artist. With paper tablecloths, beers, food and pencils, you can create your masterpiece as you lull away the afternoon with good company and symphonic music.
To give you inspiration for your table-art, you will be served some of the finest foods in the city that swirl with the most mouth-watering aromas. On the menu there are some interesting items including mussels, spare ribs, roast chicken and the ever-interesting chef's special.

The mussels come in four varieties: Moutade, Mariene, Poulette and Provencale, which are all served with a 'quart' of Belgian style fries (double blanched) for 32 litas.
The flagship dishes at Rene are "Madame Georgette's Secrets," which all go for the not so high price of 36 litas. The name Madame Georgette's Secrets is a dedication to Rene Magritte's wife. They include a Karmeliet Triple marinades slow roasting chicken, lamb ragout with the sauce of Kwak beer and duck with Kwak and honey sauce drizzled all over.

Bar owner Kris Baublys explained some of the features of the bar and what they mean.
"We call the bar so [beer cuisine], because all food is either made with beer or is served with beer," Baublys said.
Part of the impressive theme is the uniforms of the staff. The lovely ladies working the floor are dressed in full-length aprons, suspenders, white business shirts and bowler hats to match. It gives the impression that they take pride in their work, and there is good service to match 's something that is sadly lacking in 90 percent of Lithuanian eateries.

"We got the bowler hats, or Coke hats as they are properly called, to pay homage to the bar's inspiration and namesake Rene Magritte, the great Belgian surrealist," Baublys said.
"We also think that putting the hats on the girls adds a bit of an erotic touch to the bar," Baublys added sheepishly. 
The beers of the bar are one of its unique points because Rene is one of the few bars in Vilnius that can tout beers such as Kwak and Karmaliet Triple with the correct glass. Beer connoisseurs will know that this is  very important as it preserves the flavor of the beer.

Baublys proudly mentioned that staff members from the Belgian Embassy are regular customers. They told him that the mussels there are the best in the city.
If your mouth is already watering or you are simply thirsty, it is advisable that you call to make a booking ahead of time and mosey over to Rene.

Antokolskio g. 13, Vilnius Old Town
+370 (5) 212 68 58.
Open 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.