We've asked foodie and Latvia resident Emilver Gobbett to tell us a little bit more about the gastronomy scene in Riga and what makes it so special. Keep scrolling to read part one of four as Emilver describes in detail his "must visit" restaurants in the capital city.
Great Food Variety
Since coming to Latvia to live as lover of food, one big difference that’s become obvious is that majority of Latvians I’ve met tend to have a healthy attitude to eating a great variety of food. Only in Latvia, have I seen people carrying large watermelons on their way to celebrate a friend’s birthday. I’ve been offered a handful of rhubarbs one early summer upon meeting a friend on the street by chance. Such experiences tells me of just how close their relationship is to food, natural food, mainly. Season also plays an important role to eating habits of the locals. Around this time of the year, you’d find many who takes advantage of extracting maple and birch juices from trees, while at the end of Summer and beginning of Autumn, many take the time to collect mushrooms in the forest, for instance. They just seem enjoy crops at it’s best, at their most ripe and height of abundance and flavour. Even food I’ve been accustomed to for many years, tasted a lot fuller. These qualities are equally reflected on family dinner tables and local restaurants alike.
In the past, many restaurants in the country served more foreign dishes but recently, thanks mainly to the rich variety of local produce, many have been going back to roots of Latvian kitchen where you’d find numerous subtle flavor, wholesome and layered with every spoonful.
Riga as a city is relatively small, yet still, I found myself struggling making my top 3 choice of eateries I’d recommend and actually ended up with 4. I’d like to point out that although the places I’ve visited for this blog treated me with great hospitality and fascinating amount of information (it only seems natural as they are all very excited about what they do), none of them had been chosen for this reason.
Instead, they made it onto this list because they already had reputable name and/or that I’ve personally been to visit them and enjoyed my experience. One thing they have in common which became obvious as I spoke with the chefs and owners is that Latvia isn’t just a great place for fine food. They support each other, local farmers, producers, brewers and roasters to bring you the very best possible. I guess that’s why everything they create tastes so good! Their passion and love is made tangible and presented to you on a plate.
Exclusivity and Appreciative Dining: Tris Pavaris (Three Chefs)
This is a restaurant which gained success and fame as soon as it opened.
After tasting and seeing the dishes they prepare - it’s easy to know why. As the name suggests, this is a restaurant celebrates the collaboration and passion of three well renowned chefs. So it’s natural to find the kitchen being the heart and soul of the restaurant. The inspiration and ideas come from far and wide thanks to their chefs who travel regularly to bring back these flavors to your table. They are also painfully particular of the process they use by creatively adding twists to what might be familiar food to many. With such care, I was surprised to find how some techniques involves up to 4 days of careful preparation. They’re also serious in constantly sourcing and updating the best produce in the country. Due to their support of local producers, you can find exclusive products here to enjoy. For example, as well as high quality and well known brands, they also have a selection of local crafted beers and other beverages. One beer I really enjoyed is named Raskiumetis. This beer is produced in small quantities of 8-10 tonnes (this is compared to hundreds of tonnes for a commercially produced beer) per year and being natural, has a short shelf life but is certainly exquisite and abundant in both flavor and aroma.
Witnessing the food available here, it immediately became clear to me that the success of this kitchen is the result of the ‘family culture’ between the workers. I was shown around by possibly the youngest and equally enthusiastic chef Artūrs Trinkuns. His story started from humble beginnings in the kitchen, making his way up to one of the three head chefs. Now responsible for selecting the products , Artūrs was more than happy to take his time and show me the magical kitchen and just how he meticulously go through the trouble of selecting only the finest of ingredients while ensuring harmonious long-term cooperation with the producers.
This is an evolving kitchen, always progressing and ready to surprise its customers with such exciting mix and complex flavor from start to finish. They achieve this through regular training of their staff, including the waiters as well as regular workshops for diners interested in the art. So, for a relaxed and pleasurable sit and appreciation of food, this is definitely one I’d recommend.