Recently we went to the 3 Pavaru restaurant for the second time. A relative newcomer to the Riga restaurant scene, it has quickly gained quite a reputation. When I walked in to make the first reservation, I have to say I liked what I saw. It’s a spacious, modern-looking restaurant, that has a great atmosphere for an evening out. On our first visit, the restaurant was almost fully booked, so we took places at the bar that overlooks the plating are of the kitchen. Great seats for foodies, because you literally have a look in the kitchen.
The restaurant serves daily fresh meals, which means there is no printed menu, but the staff tell you what’s on offer that day. And on both occasions, the offer was good. After the orders are taken, as in many restaurants, you get served a bit of bread. However, at the 3 Pavaru restaurant, this is something special. On baking paper place-mats they make a small art work of different dips and sauces. They taste and look wonderful. For me, it’s a clear sign of the influence of chef Martins Sirmais, who is one of the 3 chefs from who the name of the restaurant is derived (3 Pavaru means 3 chefs in Latvian).
The food is generally very well prepared and the tastes are very well combined. We tried different starters (Latvian asparagus, burrata, foie gras), and all were definitely worth coming back for. Also the main courses were super, especially the veal cheeks.
Unequality on the plate
So far, so good, for this restaurant. But there is a catch. As said, during our first visit we had a good view of how food was assembled on the plates. Especially when the staff is working on large orders, the plating is inconsistent. Portions vary in size and not all get an equal amount of the best parts of the food. A good example is the asparagus starter. We saw them plate the green and white stalks on them. The thing with asparagus is: green ones have a strong flavour, and taste almost always the same, no matter where they’re from. The white ones are more special. They have a more delicate taste, and quality depends greatly on where they are grown. To me, the best are German and Dutch. The Latvian asparagus are also good. In any case, when they are in season, the ones that make it really special, are good quality white ones. So what you’d expect, is that the plates get at least all the same amount of white asparagus, and get topped off with the green ones. Not in this restaurant. The asparagus were, in a clear disregard of this quality product, randomly put on plates, with the last two plates being assembled clearly getting less than the other plates. Now, if you serve this to different tables, and make sure the portions at one table are similar, you might get away with it. But if you serve the plates that got the least attention and love to the people who can see what you’re doing, something is wrong with your quality and service standards.
Customers can be difficult people
What makes it even worse, is that the service in this restaurant is great, until you have a question or a complaint as a customer. Getting served those starters, of course I mentioned something about it to the waitress. Her response was one of looking at my puzzled and trying to get away as quickly as possible, without a serious reply to my question other than some mumbling. Now I understand that complaining customers are a pain, but not addressing the issue at hand at all, and just walking away is simply wrong. This could have been a solitary example of someone having a bad day. And I was ready to forget about this, because the food tastes so good. However, on our second visit, something similar happened. This time it was a bit more serious, as I found a human hair in my veal cheeks. Again, the food tasted good, and clearly had seen enough heat to kill any bad bacteria that could have been holding on to that hair, so I did not let it ruin my meal. But I put the hair aside on my plate, and when it was taken away, I pointed the waiter to it. No response. When our other waiter later came to ask if everything had been fine and if we wanted some desert, I mentioned the hair to him. He was shocked, called it uncomfortable, said he hoped it hadn’t ruined my appetite and… left it at that. No apologies. No, what would happen in a restaurant that cares about service, quality and customers, offering of a free coffee. Nothing.
Better service will make this restaurant worth a visit
The three chefs at restaurant 3 Pavaru clearly know what and how to cook, but if they keep service at this level, I don’t think it will ever be the success their cooking deserves. And as long as service is not improved, you’re better of at some of the other restaurants in Riga that have great food and great service.
Restaurant 3 Pavaru
Torna iela 4
reservations: +371 20370537