When it comes to meal-times every country has customs which might differ from your own. Here’s some insight into how dining works in Riga.
Many people who have been in Latvia’s capital would sign a statement that there’s no bad food served in this fantastic city. It is either good or amazing, depending on where it’s eaten. The meals are always nicely presented and, more often than not, found at a decent price. Still, there are some elements of eating out which have given tourists misconceptions regarding the service.
Please Be Seated
When going to a restaurant many expect to be greeted at the door and escorted to an available table. In Riga this is not something every eatery does. For many visitors this comes as a surprise and is often misunderstood. In reality you’re expected to sit down wherever you want, and after a few minutes a waiter will approach with a menu. Drinks and meals are usually ordered at the same time and a few minutes are given to choose from the menu. This doesn’t mean that a decision has to be made straight away – you are still the customer and can take just the time needed to select a meal.
Latvian waiters take pride in the level of professional service they offer. A customer is never rushed, which in turn captivates how the culture is around meals. Eating here is in many ways a cultural activity and one doesn’t eat in a hurry to run on to the next place. Something as simple as placing the cutlery on the table is turned into an art form. This is done in such a ceremonial way, and with such great care, that it’s almost like watching someone prepping for surgery. Don’t expect the person serving to be all chit-chatty, as this is considered bad manners. Instead appreciate the travel company and the high level of service provided.
When the meal comes to the table the waiter will leave and let you enjoy the food. Subtle service is customary in Riga and it’s the person being waited upon who decides when service is needed. Chances are that no one will come to the table and ask if the meal is pleasing or if there’s any need for more to drink. To get attention, just make eye contact and a small hand gesture. After finishing the main meal, the table will be cleared and customers might be asked if they wish for anything further. However, this is usually done in the same quiet fashion as when the food was served. Should you want to pay this must be requested as the bill is never presented unless asked for. The dining experience is in many ways slower than most people are used to, so be patient.
Paying for Dinner
Paying for the meal might also be a different experience from what you’re used to. The waiter will bring the bill together with a special container and leave it on the table. Place the money in the container, and the waiter will return for it shortly afterwards. Once the change is received, this is the point where a tip can be left. At most places it is expected to give 10% of the total bill.
Enjoy the Cultural Difference
One thing people can’t get away from when going to new destinations, are cultural differences. Things are most likely not the way they are used to from home. This is part of what makes visiting new places so exciting. The best thing is to research the destination before going and learn a little bit about their ways and traditions.
Located close to the Old Town you will find Radisson Blu Elizabete Hotel, Riga, placing its guests in the very heart of the city. From here it is easy to explore the city’s many restaurants and discover Riga. Enjoy the subtleness in the services offered, take your time and savor the delicious meals which are available in abundance.