14 Horses restaurant was formerly found in Hotel Pacai. I wrote about it as the best breakfast in Vilnius. 14 Horses has relocated to a newly refurbished historical building in Senator’s Passage, which is accessed between Dominikonu and Stikliu streets in Old Town Vilnius. The restaurant has changed its strategy to focus on the idea of brunch—the concept of which has, until now, disappointingly been identified in Vilnius as a late breakfast with the expected roster of dispassionately prepared egg dishes. 14 Horses offers a true brunch spread with a plentiful array of salads, meat, and other worthy flavors.
As a result, gone are the a la carte offerings of mackerel omelet or duck sausages. The current buffet is a far cry from the minimalist presentation and sparse offerings of the buffet breakfast served at Hotel Pacai; nor does it mimic other buffets typically found at hotels (thank goodness). Instead, guests at the new 14 Horses are greeted with a bountiful repast of dishes made from ingredients sourced from the restaurant’s own farm. If a buffet can be elegant, 14 Horses brunch sets a standard. Serving yourself never felt so luxurious.
Due to their ingredients being locally sourced, the dishes are seasonal. The early August selection included duck breast salad with fresh berries and spinach, sausages, pork neck in a light barbecue sauce, catfish skewers, cod, and chicken wings; house-made kimchi, preserved vegetables, green onion shoots in sour cream, fresh tomato salad, lightly sliced fresh squash, fried eggplant sticks, grilled onions and beets, and pickled cucumbers; and fresh berries and chocolate cake. Eggs were also available, including eggs Benedict, ubiquitous throughout Vilnius during breakfast.
In the warm-weather season, guests can sit outside in the Senator’s Passage courtyard. The interior of the restaurant is also pleasant, however, with its pale wood and attention to the Japanese principles of “wabi sabi”—perfection in imperfection—with evidence of rough stone, recycled ceiling beams, and accents that bring nature indoors.
A positive aspect of the Senator’s Passage complex is that the owners and management are present and interact with guests. They keep an eye on clients’ needs, presentation of the environment, and the smooth running of the shops and restaurants. Some members of upper management have been a part of the Vilnius food scene for years, so they are well familiar with the trends and expectations of residents, are happy to answer questions, and are clearly invested in starting Senator’s Passage off on the right foot.
On the other hand, while the chef was interested in explaining the selection at the 14 Horses buffet and attentive in encouraging us to try different dishes, the overall service was, well, typical Vilnius service. We had to flag down a waiter to get water even though we had been seated for several minutes, and dirty dishes were bussed indifferently. Coffee and tea is not included in the price of the brunch (tap water is free), and at the time of this writing, no decaf coffee was available. All this, and a 10% service charge is included in the bill. The complex is new and the 14 Horses brunch still finding its sea legs, so we will see how service develops as it becomes more established.
Opening Hours and Price
Brunch is currently served from 12 pm to 4 pm on Saturdays and costs 30 euros. Do tell the chef at the brunch counter your food allergies so that he can identify dishes you should stay away from. Above all, come prepared to feast, explore different flavors and textures, and be delighted with color and creativity.