Hotel Le Chevalier Relais
Le Chevalier Relais, a chic French style establishment, is well-located on the edge of old town with easy access to central Riga. The relatively spacious rooms are well stocked with the usual amenities, i.e., safe and a coffee and tea service, but I found the bed creaky and uncomfortable. Three nights on a not great mattress is a little much.
The rooms facing the street can also be noisy at night as there is a gentleman’s club next door and a diner across the square that plays loud music. Sleeping with the windows closed blocks most of the noise but you may want ear plugs or ask for a room in the back.
Widows in the front of the hotel have a nice view of the square and city spires to the left, but also a construction project directly in front of the hotel.
The breakfast buffet has an extensive selection of the usual Latvian favorites; cold cuts, cheeses, cured fish, cereal, milk, yogurt and cheese curd, dried fruits and nuts, fruit- both cut and whole, a small offering of cakes and pastry, tomato, cucumber and olives. The bread could have been fresher and of better quality. They also offer a cooked to order hot breakfast selection including – eggs, pancakes and porridge. Coffee is prepared individually and brought to your table. Over all the selection and quality was fine but not as good as some of the other places we’ve stayed in Lithuania and Latvia.
Riits, A snazzy café style eatery specializes in locally sourced products. The short menu offers a variety meat dishes, a couple of fish dishes and an equally long list of daily specials. On this particular evening the specials included – a chef’s burger, pulled leg of lamb, cod, and duck breast. Unfortunately they were out of the lamb.
We started with the Latvian gold, a combination of smoked sprat – a small sardine type fish – on a dollop of potato served with salmon roe. The dish is served cold.
For mains we tried the cod special and the duck. The cod was beautifully cooked with a miso glaze. The duck was well prepared medium rare, but the cut of duck, while generous, was not the most tender and the skin was soggy. Both dishes were served on a colorful plate of delicious roasted vegies.
This is a fun and popular restaurant so reservations are a must.
Located on the square behind St. Peter’s Cathedral, Domini Canes has a contemporary cozy living room feel, something out of Restoration Hardware. Throws and pillows on the bench seats soften the dark hardwood furnishings.
The limited menu focuses on a selection of meat and fish.
The best dish of the night was the avocado and trout appetizer, a generous portion – plenty as a shared plate – of super fresh sea trout and avocado with just enough seasoning to bind it together and bring out the flavors of the main ingredients. It was served with an exotic confetti of salad ingredients – many of which I did not recognize such as dried cornflowers. Each one was fresh and tasty, offering a variety of textures.
For mains we chose the halibut and the lamb shank. The halibut, served on a bed of Asian flavored carrot and zucchini noodles, had great fresh fish flavor, but the too soft texture was disappointing. Whether this was a cooking method error or a lesser product that was not frozen or defrosted properly I can’t say. The vegetable “noodles”, however, were fantastic.
The lamb shank served with a beautifully seasoned cooked pumpkin and the same type of exotic salad as the appetizer was also disappointing. Although the lamb had great flavor, it was either undercooked or I needed a better knife. Generally lamb shank is cooked a long time and served fall off the bone tender. For this version I had to saw through the meat and pry it off the bone. It wasn’t bad just not the experience I was expecting.
Despite these two fairly important cooking inconsistencies I would give the restaurant another chance as other elements were spot on.
On a Sunday evening in late September reservations were a must. A number of people without were turned away.
We came to Bon Bon Vivant for Sunday lunch but it would make a fine dinner spot. A mix of newish and old European classics playing in the background compliments the warm old-style Belgium pub atmosphere.
The extensive menu offers a selection of European favorites including – moules frites – along with classic eastern European/Russian dishes. We tried the wild mushroom soup with chunks of mushroom in a clear broth – a lovely light soup with fantastic mushroom flavor.
The venison dumplings were also beautifully done – the meat filling perfectly seasoned and the dumplings not too starchy and cooked to order. The corn chicken, a small whole bird with a sweetish glaze, was also beautifully done and tasty. And of course they have a long list of beers to choose from.
On a Sunday afternoon the place was empty.
Dome Fish Restaurant
From start to finish this meal was about as perfect as perfect gets. Dome Fish Restaurant, located in the upscale Dome Hotel, has a warm cozy street level dining room. The white painted cave-like interior with a barrel vaulted ceiling is decorated with enlarged photographs of old time fishermen on the Latvian coast. Simple dark wood furnishings and white table cloths complete the elegant look.
The selective menu focuses on fish with only one or two non-fish selections.
We started with the smoked mackerel with picked apple spheres, yuzu gel, fermented gooseberries, and sorrel oil.
Mains included the sea trout, one of the catch of the day selections – there were four to choose from – and the sturgeon. The sea trout was served with sun choke chips and hazelnuts with a side of sun choke whipped cream and apple jam. The smoked sturgeon was served with parsnip puree, pickled apple, wild garlic and buttermilk.
We had two desserts, highly unusual for us. The rhubarb-almond cake was served with pickled rhubarb and almond ice cream. The chocolate – caramel mousse, a large sphere of caramel mouse coated in ganache was served with raspberry sorbet and finely chopped hazelnuts.
Everything was prepared to perfection. The combination of flavors simple, exotic and well thought out. The fish were cooked beautifully. Some may complain that the portion sizes are on the small size. They are not huge, but we left more than satisfied. Service is professional, attentive and friendly.
On a Monday evening in late September advanced reservations were not necessary.
September 21-23, 2019
For links to all the posts in this series see the Baltics Road Trip page.