KLAIPEDA - For those of us who live in Riga, the NATO summit pretty much rendered our city off-limits to us this past week. Translation: time for a road trip. Destination: Nida, Lithuania.
I wanted to reach Neringa before dark. Pushing forward for hours through the drizzling rain, I assured my family that delectable food and indescribable toilet facilities were available at the hotel that awaited us in Nida. In Klaipeda, however, I succumbed to the incessant complaints from the backseat, as well as the demands of my own growling stomach.
After parking the car in front of the famous Klaipeda Theater'son whose balcony Hitler once ranted'swe walked wearily into Anikes Teatras Restaurant. The decor, teetering on the edge of gauche -- with overhead lamps trimmed out in pink feathers and pearls, as well as a collection of poster-sized, sepia photographs of a dramatically posed Aurelija Tamulite (a famous Lithuanian theater actress) hanging inside gilded frames -- magically transformed our foul moods. The dim Nordic light filtering through the windows was no longer a reminder of the relentless drizzling rain, but served as perfect back lighting for the golden candle light that enveloped each table, casting shadows that danced across the dark wooden pillars and decorative ceiling supports. The smells from the kitchen, along with the atmosphere, threatened to drive me to my knees, where, with a furrowed brow I would cry out, "As God as my witness, I will never go hungry again!" Then remembering Tara, I would sob quietlyâ€¦ My husband, not always appreciative of my propensity toward drama, gently took my arm and guided me to our table.
After unapologetically ordering creamy broccoli soup (2.30 euros), pasta in basil sauce (5.80 euros), to be followed up with crepes (2.60 euros) and a cappuccino (1.45 euros), from an ample menu I growled in my best Mae West voice, "I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond." To which my husband said something like, "I hope you're not holding your breath."
We assumed the romance and drama were restricted to the decor; a misconception that was cleared up when our meals arrived. Each dish was a work of art; absolutely perfect in presentation, as well as taste. My pasta rivaled any authentic Italian cuisine, with fresh basil that actually was fresh. Portions were unexpectedly generous. My family ate the crepes.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention our waiter. All drama aside, as a restaurant aficionado, I would like to see a statue of Gediminas erected in the town square. The moment a plate was relieved of its last morsel of food it was removed. When a finger was raised to summon him, he was present before the hand reached the lap. He was attentive without being intrusive; and all of his services were offered with a smile and in several languages.
After paying the bill, which totaled slightly over 10 euros per person, we made our way to the door. As I passed the bar, where Gediminas stood smiling, I mouthed silently, "Thank you." I'm pretty sure he replied, "Here's looking at you, babe." It was either that or "You're welcome."
Sukileliu 8/10 Klaipeda