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Chef's inspiration

By Howard Jarvis. 20.12.2010

Garage wine bar and restaurant

Save to foursquare Berga Bazars
Elizabetes 83/85
, Riga
Phone: 2208 6367

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An inventive and friendly new dining spot, Garage is a wine bar and restaurant located prominently to the right of the 5-star Hotel Bergs as you stroll into the upmarket Bergs Bazaar shopping area, five minutes’ walk from the Old Town.

As soon as you enter you face the open kitchen manned by smiling Serbian chef Aleksandar Ločmelis-Manevski, who previously honed his exceptional skills at Vincents, Riga’s best-known upscale restaurant. Here at Garage, you can feel his exuberant sense of freedom at the helm as he combines slow-food produce with Latvia’s best beef cuts or fresh seafood that’s shipped in daily.
The chef’s favorites, including oysters and fruits de mer, light chicken volováns and some excellent salad dishes – at least three different kinds – are often on the menu, but the idea at Garage is that what’s on offer changes every day.
Subtitled “a democratic wine bar”, the flair in Garage’s cuisine comes from whatever has inspired the chef on that particular day – often the organic and seasonal Latvian ingredients he has to hand. Guests often greet him as they walk in with the words “Hi Alex! What do you have that’s tasty today?” Dishes are priced between 4.50 and 7.50 lats (€6.50-10.75).
One of Latvia’s premier sommeliers has assisted in selecting a list of around 16 fine wines that can be ordered by the glass (€2.90-5.75) and represent all varieties of grape and almost all of the world’s wine-producing countries.
You may get the impression from all the artistically arranged motor-related paraphernalia and the airy architectural design that the building actually used to be a garage, but in fact it’s fairly new. The whole of the interior was originally taken up by the Latvian handicraft store now situated to the right as you enter.
The store owners wanted to let out most of the space and rightly thought that a lively café and wine bar would attract more custom. Janis Jenzis, the owner of Riga’s excellent Ostas Skati riverside restaurant and a former president of the Latvian Hotel and Restaurant Association, stepped in to provide the concept for Garage.
It has barely opened and already Garage is full of chatter and laughter in the evenings. The venue has also hosted several private parties. It’s not a large restaurant but it can hold up to 50 people at a buffet or when seating is extended onto the open floor upstairs.
Between dishes, curious daytime diners browse the handicraft store, which is open until 7pm on weekdays and until 6pm on Saturdays. It gives you a sense of Latvia’s weaving traditions, which are being kept alive, and both traditional and classical designs have been used for everything from metalwork clothes pegs to playful jewelry. Candles have been created out of Latvian national symbols, while natural linen has been fashioned into blouses and crinkly white ties. Latvian CDs of opera arias, art books and calendars are also for sale.
But hungry customers shouldn’t feel they need an extra reason to visit Garage other than the great home-cooked food on offer and the addictively friendly atmosphere.

Michael 30.06.2011 17:25

Bad quality food. But wine is cheap. Cant go wrong there.



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