Riga Resto Review: 3 Pavaru, lost in potential

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.

Artful display of tasty dips and sauces for bread

Artful display of tasty dips and sauces for bread

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).

Veal cheek: great dish, high quality food, addition of human hair not necessary

Veal cheek: great dish, high quality food, addition of human hair not necessary

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.

Asparagus plate one: 3 green asparagus and at least 5 white ones

Asparagus plate one: 3 green asparagus and at least 5 white ones

Asparagus plate 2: 3,5 green asparagus, 1 whole white one, and 3 bottom-end small chunks of white ones

Asparagus plate 2: 3,5 green asparagus, 1 whole white one, and 3 bottom-end small chunks of white ones

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
3pavari.lv

Excellent dining experience in Riga at Vincents

Entrance of restaurant Vincents, Riga, Latvia

The entrance of Vincents

We waited quite a while before having dinner at Vincents. Reports from locals ranged from the best food in town to seriously overpriced. And in a city where you can have a good dinner on about every street corner and next to it, you don’t really need to go to the most expensive place. The price difference between Vincents and many other restaurants close to it, is big. But then again, comparing the prices at Vincents to comparable restaurants elsewhere in Europe, it’s actually not bad. So it’s a matter of how you look at it, and at one point we decided to go there anyway.

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A Blue Cow in Old Town offering good food and special sides

Goat's cheese and spinach creme brulee

Goat's cheese and spinach creme brulee

The Blue Cow restaurant, or in Latvian: Zila Govs, has a special place in our lives. It was in this restaurant that we decided we would move to Riga. If we could have food like they serve here, this city was certainly a place that we could live in.

As many of the Latvian cuisine restaurants in Riga, meat has an important role on the menu in the Blue Cow. The quality of the meat is great, and they sure know how to prepare it. Some cuts, however, are surprises on the plate. The entrecote is nothing like the entrecote you get in France, for example. Still, it tastes good.

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There’s a new restaurant in town: Riviera

Lamb at Riviera

Beautifully presented lamb

Mediterranean food is among my favorites, and it was a bit missing from the restaurant scene in Riga. Until yesterday, that is. There had been some activity on the corner of Antonijas and Alberta, after the relatively new Metropolitain restaurant had closed, and earlier this week it looked like a new restaurant was about to open. So when we were heading out for dinner yesterday, and decided to show our friend a bit of the neighbourhood, we semi-intentionally walked by this corner to see if the new place was open already. And it was. Even better, it was the first night of business for Restaurant Riviera.

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Atmosphere and good food at Fish restaurant Le Dome

Tapas @ Zivju Restorans

On a recent event, I had the opportunity to sample the dishes of chef Alex Ziluks of the Fish restaurant at the Dome hotel in Riga. And it gave me reason to come back for a full dinner. So, on a celebratory Saturday, we made our reservations in this relatively small, but atmospheric restaurant. The furniture is of a light wood color; and combined with the large black and white photos of Baltic fishermen on the walls it gives the place a modern classic atmosphere, very consistent with the boutique hotel it is part of.

I had previewed the menu on the website, but still it was hard to choose. On paper, everything looks nice, plus there is a list of chef’s recommendations that are all also very tempting.

We decided to start with the full set of tapas. The five choices combined are a good starter for two, and consist of crunchy won-ton dumplings with goat’s cheese, plums and cedar nuts; camembert in spicy breading with cranberry-apple jam; bruschetta with mozzarella, fig jam and prosciutto chips; pumpernickel with lobster tails, avocado an trout caviar and ciabatta toast with spice humus and smoked eel fillet. It was a great choice. All five tapas are prepared and presented with care and the tastes are all perfectly combined. Five pearls to get your taste buds going.

Our mains were the fried Baltic herring and a beef fillet medallion with fried egg. In Latvia, you have to be sure to mention you want your meat rare, because it’s just not customary in the country. I like my meat rare, with a nice brown crusty outside and a pinkish red on the inside. And even though it’s not how most people here want it, it was exactly how I got it. The fried herring also looked fantastic. Both mains were well prepared, although the sauce with my medallion gave away that my main course had been waiting a little before being served. This could have been due to the fact that we stepped outside after the starters. In any case, the combination of a good steak with a fried egg on top is a bit rustic, but it just tastes fine. As for the fried herring, it was very good as well, although if you like your herring fatty and fresh (as we are used to in the Netherlands), this might not be the right choice for you.

To accompany our dinner, and because we had something to celebrate other than that it was a Saturday, we chose two champagnes from the well selected wine list. A Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut to start wit, and a Pol Roger Rosé 2002 after that. The wines are reasonably priced and the selection looks attractive and balanced. However, the champagnes both were slightly past their prime. Still good and surely drinkable, but just not on their tops anymore. The Grand Brut had a bit too much of an alcohol taste, and the 2002 rosé was watering down already. Obviously, we have mentioned it to the restaurant staff, and they have promised to review their wine collection accordingly. If you want to splash out, you could consider taking one of the two 1998 millesimés, because that was a good year for champagne, or simply try a prosecco. The private label sekt is also a good choice.

All in all, we had a lovely evening, in a beautiful restaurant, with good food and very friendly and correct staff. If you’re in town, this is certainly a good place to spend an evening dining.

Fish restaurant Le Dome
Mesnieku iela 4
Riga
tel: +371 67559884
http://www.zivju-restorans.lv/en/
@ZivjuRestorans