Review: Bergs

29 November 2014

After a fantastic lunch at Bibliotēka №1, I was looking forward to a good dinner after running some errands in Riga. Not a very busy day, but jetlag was dragging me down as it often does on these trips. I noticed it’s getting worse and worse, and my body clock has a bad habit of going the exact opposite direction of my travel…

So after a short rest I headed out slightly outside of Old Town Riga for the much raved Hotel Bergs, which contains the restaurant of the same name Bergs. I was looking forward to a nice tasting menu for the evening. Considering my lunch, my expectations for this place was sky high.

When I was led to my table my server said in an almost apologetic tone that since I had no booking on a Saturday night the only tables available are near the piano…not sure why that was such a problem, but I learned that the hard way later…

I sat down and relaxed and asked for a martini — a good way to test establishments. I’ve received undrinkable swill and even a tumbler of Martini vermouth on the rocks from Michelin-starred restaurants in the past, so I was pretty happy with this one with a nice twist.

martini

I happily went with the full tasting menu as I chilled. But by now I’m starting to think, this piano player has a pretty bad repertoire. These are about as “standard” as it gets, and it’s the stuff you remember being played going to Sunday brunch with your grandparents… Then the amuse arrived…

AB-cream_nuts

It was meant to feature the nuts but honestly it did absolutely nothing even with that dollop of gooey frothiness. Hmmm… At least it distracted me from what I thought was “You Light Up My Life” from the now worrisome piano…

By now the pairings have begun, and I do apologise I forgot to jot down the wines on this dinner. But for the most part they worked pretty well. The first course arrived, a very regional typical dish — beets.

01-beets

I personally love beetroot and would have done this dish a la carte too. The different coloured beets brought out a different tinge of the beet range, from the sweetness to the sharpness and everywhere in between. Nice dish, simple but delicious. Next up, scallops.

02-scallop

Believe me it’s under this, seared lightly. Nothing special to be honest, foam did little (I do not like foam as my readers know) and the strings seemed more nuisance than enhancement… Oh well. This lowering in expectation for tonight was sadly augmented (or should it be diminished?) by the worsening output from the piano. The courses were divided by a quick intermission of sea buckthron sorbet.

mid-sea_buckthorn

The tanginess of this beloved berry was much needed with my growing headache. I gotta say when he decided to play some light jazz it was perfectly good and complementary to the meal. But when he sunk back into “standards” it was disastrous. For the third dish we had sturgeon.

03-sturgeon

I love sturgeon and this was a good dish, the fish cooked well. The cauliflower was a nice touch and the horseradish cream was an excellent accent. The dropping of a bit of caviar on top of the cream was showy but unnecessary — sadly a relic of places that thinks it’s not “top dining” without caviar or gold-strewn desserts.

At this point we hit the absolute bottom from the pianist as he now visits The Godfather… It felt so, so POST-SOVIET. It so pains me to say that…

04-lamb

The fourth dish was lamb. This was excellent, cooked very well with the aubergines a good addition. Sadly this is New Zealand lamb, and this led to a real-time Twitter discussion about the lamb industry and sourcing in the Baltics. But this was tasty, and helped on by the pianist taking a powder…

I sense the waiter knew my struggles so the dessert came quickly.

05-apple

Based on apples, this concoction features many components from sorbet to sauce to caramelised strips. A nice creation, tasty, without the parts clashing at all. Solid stuff. I actually stayed for a drink with the pianist missing…

Overall it was an okay meal. Some soft parts, some good parts, nothing overwhelmingly good. The pianist really made it far less pleasant. Nowhere near as good as lunch, which I was still dreaming about when I walked out into the cold night…

Bergs
Berga Bazārs
Elizabetes iela 83/85
Rīga, Latvija

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