20190704_192718 American food in Lithuania
On July 4th we found ourselves looking for a place to go celebrate the US Independence Day. We found a pub in Vilnius called Uncle Sam's American Pub, and we thought it would definitely have something going on for July 4th. Well, they didn't have much of a program going on;it was pretty much like any day there. Except that it was busier than any ordinary day, which caused me to regret not making reservations.
When we arrived, about half of the tables had a Reserved sign on them. They were all empty. The rest were taken. We were two adults and two kids, and our only option was to sit at something that only partially resembled a table. It was a square post that supported the ceiling, and it had a ledge around it at the height of a a bar table. That ledge could be used as a table. Oh, and the post was covered with mirrors on all sides. So instead of looking at each other, we would each have to stare closely at our own reflections.
Like many restaurants in Lithuania, this one was self-seating. Unlike in most American restaurants, there was no host or hostess to seat you when a table became available. This meant that instead of relaxing until you are shown to your table, you have to be on a constant lookout for a table to become available, and then jostle your way to it to beat anyone else who might be cutting in line. This "system" reminds me too much of Soviet times. Back in the Soviet days, the extreme version of this practice was called "bite counting": people hovered near a table where someone else was sitting, and counted their every bite (perhaps figuratively rather than literally), impatiently waiting for them to finish and get up. Needless to say, this didn't make for a pleasant dining experience for anyone.
So I am still alergic to a practice that requires you to be constantly scanning the room with an eagle eye to see if a table is about to open up. It's ironic that an American-themed restaurant treated me to a distinctly Soviet experience. Except it's not alone in that -- it is sadly typical in Lithuania.
Luckily, a table opened up soon and we seated ourselves.
The rest of our experience there was pretty good. The pub menu approximates that of an American middlebrow restaurant. It is comparable to TGI Friday's, Chili's, and similar brands. It had an extensive selection of burgers named after US states and cities. Some of those burgers differed by the type of meat in ways that made superficial sense -- for example, a Memphis burger had pork ribs in it. I guess that's a nod to the famous Memphis BBQ? But can you actually call it a burger if it has anything other than a beef patty in it? Or is it just a sandwich at that point? The rest of the differences between burgers were insignificant.
They also had some interestingly flavored dressings and dips for appetizers, but I don't remember now what those unusual flavors were. They tasted good, though, even if they weren't what you would find at a TGI Friday.