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International SV

By Howard Jarvis. 20.11.2012


Save to foursquare Hospitāļu 1, Riga Phone: 6749 1212
Working hours: Mon-Thu 10.00 - 23.00, Fri-Sat 11.00 - 23.00, Sun 11.00 - 22.00,



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There’s nothing better in dining than a little experimentation. What the new restaurant International SV does is new in Riga, though it’s been done elsewhere – to make beautifully prepared dishes affordable but keeping the portions small so customers can comfortably try three or four in one sitting.

The mini-dishes are carefully selected from around the world, so you can mix traditional but deliciously accessible foods from different countries. The out-of-the-center location has suited the owners in conducting their experiment out of the critical glare of the public eye. But this unique restaurant has really taken off since opening in April, and has garnered – so far – an excellent TripAdvisor rating. So it was time for us to take a look.

Located at the foot of a clean, graffiti-less residential block in a quiet neighborhood with a façade on tiny Ēveles iela, International SV takes a matter of minutes to reach by taxi from the Old Town. Or jump on tram number 11, which goes to Riga’s well-kept zoo, and get off near the start of Hospitāļu Street. Walking from the Old Town may take 45 minutes or more, but you’ll see how the city changes as you stroll.

The décor is tastefully modern but with wallpaper carrying reproductions of countless black-and-white photos. Choose a table, perhaps next to the big street-side windows, and a polite English speaking waiter will present you with the glossy illustrated menu. Once he has taken your order he returns to place cutlery on the table before each dish is served with gloved hands and expert precision.
Similar attention to detail is evident with each of the choices on the menu. These dishes in miniature require delicate handling from the restaurant’s executive chef, Andrei Shmatchenko, who previously created the cuisine at restaurants in Riga that were celebrated but are no longer with us, such as Skonto Fish Restaurant and Otto Schwarz.

The ingredients are relieved of unnecessary seasoning, and given room to be seen and tasted. Beef Wellington (€8.50) has a tiny but unmistakable ring of chestnuts, mushrooms and Parma ham between the perfectly cooked beef and the puff pastry. A beef fillet steak, priced the same, is served on rosemary potato confit and a slice of Brie melting on top. In the section on Latvian cuisine, two succulent chunks of pork fillet (€6) are lightly doused in a dark and sticky cranberry sauce.

Because of their size, none of the dishes are labeled as appetizers, but perhaps the ideal starter is the red king crab in “sushi nori” (€5.30) with tempura and a delightfully aromatic mango yuzu dressing. Three crispy tubes are filled with creamy crabmeat.

Among the other world cuisines on display, a Russian section includes pancakes and black caviar – the real thing – at €54 per 20 grams. More affordably, Siberian pelmeni (€3.50) are filled with a blend of elk and venison, with a dash of beef to make the meat softer.

Under France, visitors can experiment with expertly prepared burgundy snails, Fine de Claire oysters – considered to be the finest in the world – or a small but fresh-seafood filled bouillabaisse.

Under Greece, there’s the biggest grilled tiger prawn you ever saw, or a fabulous dish of eggplant filled with a terrine of feta and sun-dried tomatoes. There’s also tzatziki or a traditional Greek salad prepared as it would be in Greece. However, some of these dishes may change with the new winter menu.

Bigger portions of individual dishes can be provided on request, for clients in a hurry. WiFi is available too. But International SV is best absorbed slowly, in the good company of a fellow foodie, with a number of dishes placed on the table simultaneously or one after the other. There are two or three set menus at special prices with seven or nine dishes to try. With a bottle of good wine – or Latvian wine if you wish – the evening can become a voyage of discovery.

McMurry 21.11.2012 13:11

Decent restaurant. Visited it with my wife. Top class food and service


Billy Jean 21.11.2012 13:27

Good service and tasty food! Like it!


Rita 21.11.2012 19:45

We are going there this week. Excited!!!


Jimmy 22.11.2012 08:06

Great place, will be back again!


Amanda 25.11.2012 15:13

Great concept!


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