As we pulled into the monastery car park the sun was setting colourfully through the rows of trees surrounding the Kaunas Lagoon behind us. Ahead stretched the long linden tree lined avenue leading to the historical 17th century Pažaislis Monastery ensemble.
Its rich chequered history, from its conception for the Camaldolese monks, surviving damage from Napoleon’s army horses and time as a German war hospital, can be felt within the walls. The atmosphere is endearing and inimitable. Pažaislis monastery was returned to the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Casimir in 1992 and is now the largest working monastery complex in Lithuania.
“Monte Pacis” is the unique hospitality facilities housed within the complex. This includes a 4-star hotel with 13 classical baroque-style rooms and suites, all named after historic personalities who lived at or visited the hospitality complex. The restaurant combines historical secret recipes and fresh seasonal products from the garden and local organic farms, whilst the wine selection includes authentic wine made by the monks.
After a small tour of the complex we were shown to the regally inspired dining hall to experience their celebrated 9-course degustation menu.
Settling into our throne like chairs at our table lit by candlelight, our waiter Arnas expertly poured an elegant champagne and served the amuse bouche.
…And by ‘amuse bouche’ we mean several.
Although the croquette was nice, the beetroot was a bit of a revelation. It was evident that we were building towards something great.
Moving on to our first actual course of foie gras with a Madeira jelly, glazed fig, fig in a red wine, miniature brioche loaf. The sous chef came out to meet us and introduce this masterpiece. The marbled and light foie gras paired beautifully with the sweet flavours from the figs and buttery brioche.
Course two: beef soup with beef cheek on bulgur wheat. As the broth was poured at the table the ingredients combined in front of your eyes.
The meat on top was incredibly sweet making it a light and joyous surprise every time you took a mouthful and the beef broth was strong and dark. The bulgur wheat was a little disappointing: it was fine but a little out of its depth with the other limelight stealing ingredients.
Course three: beetroot chutney, grilled beetroot sheets and sheeps cheese. Served with a mint tea on the side.
A very creative but uneven dish. The beetroot chutney was as fantastic as before but the other supporting acts were good but not great. The cheese was extremely soft, almost mousse like. The crispy beetroot added texture and had a nice tang which gave it a little kick. The chutney was great though, rich in flavour, sweet but not saccharine, strong but not overpowering. The combination of the sheeps cheese and chutney created a beautiful and rich – almost chocolate like – sensation.
Course four: slow cooked goose finished in a charcoal oven with cabbage purée and a plunged clementine
The light, tender and very sweet meat had a slight smoky flavour, which was fantastic. The savoy cabbage was very flavoursome but the real joy of this dish was the way the cranberry jus and the cabbage puree combined to make each mouthful rich and vibrant with competing yet beautiful tastes.
Course five: quince sorbet
A very powerful, a very effective pallet cleanser. The crushed peanuts helped thwart the power surge of the quince sorbet. Once the pallet had its initial cleanse completed, it settled down to a tangy and lively affair.
Course six: Wagu beef from Australia with a sweet potato purée and a potato crisp.
The Wagu beef was everything that I hoped for. It could almost be cut with a spoon and it melted silkily in the mouth. The sweet potato purée was intensely sweet but light and almost ethereal. It was everything that we’d been waiting for. EVEN THE CRISP WAS NICE. Masquerading as a kettle chip, it was so heavily peppered and salted it kept the Wagyu party alive and going for longer.
Course seven: pre-dessert: cheese board.
I love it that it’s a ‘pre-dessert‘ and that the apple chutney was made from apples out of the garden.
The cheeseboard was nice and light making the experience enjoyable, but the taste sensation party ramped up by the wagyu was definitely in the chill out zone now.
Course eight: orange cheesecake under ice cream, laid on top of an Oreo powder or shortbread base with mulled wine jelly and sugar glass.
This Christmassy cheesecake was lovely and very rich, but pretty much finished us off. The dark and stormy cocoa was quite overpowering, but sweet orange cheesecake complemented it to crest to an intense finale to the dinner.
Course nine: Chefs thank you
This dish really put on a show! First the passion fruit marshmallows were brûléed or toasted with a blow torch right at our table. It turned out lovely, sweet and chewy.
The wild berries of the meringue dish were sharp as if matrinated in spirits. Tangy, ‘picquant’ and enjoyable. It matched perfectly with the crumbly, savoury shortbread cookie.
Finally the raspberry sorbet; very fresh and tart, and crushed the peanuts helped to soften the tang. It was a nice light and leisurely finish to a pretty wild meal. Almost like the pleasant glide back home at the end of a rollercoaster ride.
Overall the food was beautiful, the service attentive and the sound of the food coming in and out of the kitchen doors felt like a never ending song.
If you would like to find out more or book this unique experience, visit their website here.
Thank you to Monte Pacis for being so welcoming and hosting us, however our opinions are always honest and our own.
Last modified: 28th March 2018