29 November 2014
After an excellent evening at 3 Pavāri last night catching up with a dear old friend, I spent Saturday morning having a coffee with another friend before I went to explore the food of Riga on my own. Even though I was on the other side of the centre, I decided to trek all the way back and explore a much-talked-about restaurant called Bibliotēka №1 (Library No1).
This relaxing restaurant on the edge of Vērmanes dārzs (Vērmane Garden), which just celebrated its 200th anniversary, is decorated with its namesake in mind, with books as a nice decorative touch. I was looking forward to this lunch, and was even more excited when my excellent server told me the specials. One of my goals of eating Latvia will be reached today in a pleasant surprise. Will say more later.
As the bread arrived my server told me about all the dishes. Extremely smooth and knowlegeable in both food and wine issues, this is a very welcome and excellent change in Riga over the years. You got some damn good professionals now, and everyone was this place was certainly there. The bread was excellent, especially the rye and the beet (no prize for guess which). Remember, the Latvians are fanatical about their bread…
Then they presented a small amuse on a cute wooden trunk, a small tasting of tuna. A nice start, but I was really looking forward to my starter, which is just in season and was the day’s special — lamprey.
I know, some of you are like…yech… But these house-smoked treats are really a delicacy. Many hate it, but if you like it, you really like it. These were in season, and were extremely plump. You can see they are full of roe, which are utterly decadent. There was even the liver of the lamprey (not show) inside, with a rich creamy taste that just added to the depth of this generous serving. Wow! The eggyolk was a nice touch.
I know there are people in Asia who would pay 3 figures for this plate…
I was extremely happy already, enjoying a bit more wine before my main arrived. At first it came fully baked-in, for my server to crack the crust at the table…
This was a beautiful baby free-range local chicken, baked in a traditional Latvian rye crust. When it was opened, the aroma of garlic was nearly mesmiring…
Then it was brought back to the kitchen for plating before it returned. The meat was extremely tender and juicy, the rye crust more than doing its job keeping everything moist. Didn’t need much of the sauce, as the chicken was one of the best chickens I’ve had this year since the excellent jidori I had in Tokyo at Hinaiya.
I was spent after this, no room for dessert. Now this was a fantastic meal, and it turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip — and certainly the best meal I’ve ever had in Riga. Excellent service, attentive and knowlegeable, with good wine (and generous pours) and fabulous food. You can’t ask for anything more!
If there is a place in Riga that’ll drag me back it is this place! Heavily recommended!
Tērbatas iela 2