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By Howard Jarvis. 07.04.2011


Save to foursquare Grecinieku 26, Riga Phone: 6722 5616
Working hours: Mon-Sun 10:00 - 00:00,



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One of Riga’s best restaurants, Pinot, is housed in a building on the edge of Town Hall Square that once served as the elegant residence of the governors of the Baltic provinces under tsarist rule.

Those willing to treat themselves to a little upscale dining will have no reason to feel guilty for indulging in the not-so-discrete charms of the bourgeoisie. Fans of the movie Sideways, which popularized Pinot noir to spectacular effect in 2004, would definitely approve as Pinot’s sense of sophistication is never overbearing. And the food is excellent, no matter which grape you’re drinking.
Head Chef Aivis Onzulis is something of a perfectionist having worked in several Michelin restaurants. The dishes on the menu, which are largely based on nouvelle French and Italian cuisine, do not come cheap and the wine list is similarly inspired by the refined fruits of the vine from those two countries.
As you walk in, the bright and sophisticated yet contemporary interior is emphasized by high ceilings and a sense of space. If you arrive on a Wednesday, Friday or Saturday evening you may experience the additional enchantment of live music, sometimes courtesy of the restaurant’s new white piano.
Select your seating – the visible tables you can see immediately in front of you provide ample people-watching in case your conversation lags. In a lounge-style area behind the bar, films and music videos are often screened (bring your own on a flash and some friends). And, in mid-April, more intimate seating will be unveiled upstairs. The design of the upstairs zone, which has already had a pre-opening party in collaboration with Riga Fashion Week, is like a sumptuous living room with cozy sofas, lots of books and, of course, wine. But until its official opening, if you have business to conduct or romance to nurture then some tables on the ground floor are separated by glass partitions. Take a little tour of the restaurant before making your choice.
In the brick cellar downstairs, a small delicatessen offers gastronomic delights you can take away with you – from cheeses, meats and fresh pastries to the fine wines themselves. This wine-and-gourmet shop is currently awaiting its first delivery of buffalo mozzarella and other rare cheeses directly from Italy. Nothing like this can be found in Riga’s shops. A presentation of these cheeses may be made in mid-April.
Once a month, Pinot organizes wine dinners – evenings in the sublime company of a four-course menu, five specially selected wines and Pinot’s resident sommelier. Each guest also receives a bottle of wine as a present along with other delicious gastronomic surprises. The theme of the evening in March was Antinori, an Italian wine company with a history dating back to 1385. The next event takes place on April 13 – a degustation of the Tuscan wines of the Frescobaldi family.
Onzulis is passionate about seafood and creates a mouthwatering Chile perch fillet (€23) together with saffron velouté sauce and asparagus (all mains also come with the garnish of your choice, including new potatoes with chanterelles and spinach risotto). But for us the dishes on the menu that stood out particularly well on the night were Latvian venison chop in red wine sauce (€23) and the Pinot sirloin steak (€26.50), also bathed in its own red-wine sauce. The highlights on the wine list come from Domaine Jessiaume, a maison in Santenay, eastern France.
Dessert delights such as fresh berry gratin with champagne sabayon (€6.50) and Thai mango soup (€7), which comes peppered with chocolate chips and berries, make a tasty, light and healthy finish to the meal.

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