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Valtera restorāns

By Howard Jarvis. 16.04.2013

Valtera restorāns

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Reading Valters Zirdziņš’ “philosophy” nailed to the wall in his first self-owned restaurant, it’s easy to see the chef has spent a lot of time in the Latvian countryside. It speaks of birches and berries, river fish and green grass, erubescent apples and freshly milked milk. His aim is to bring as many of the natural riches of rural Latvia into the kitchen as possible. The result is one of the best restaurants in Riga to open so far this year.


Valtera restorāns, which could be translated as “Walter’s Restaurant”, is located in a building with history. The structure dates back more than three centuries, on a quiet cobblestone Old Town lane virtually next door to the five-star Le Dome Hotel & Spa and its excellent fish restaurant.

You can see by the quaint windows inside that the entranceway was once itself a lane between two houses. On the right of this tiny restaurant there’s space to leave your coats and jackets; on the left is the bar and most of the tables. A couple of little tables will atmospherically be set outside in summer.

Despite the smartly attired waiter and waitress, the ambiance is homey – flax tablecloths, lots of greenery, wooden window ledges, and very reasonable prices for Old Riga.

A boyish-looking veteran of high-class establishments such as Piramīda at the Radisson Blu Hotel Ridzene and elegant Dikļi Manor near Valmiera, Valters also spent two years cooking in Germany and traveled to the Canary Islands. He returned to his native land wanting to express as much passion and pride in Latvian cuisine as the Spanish and the Italians expressed in theirs. Valtera restorāns is all his own work, from the bank loans he took for the financing to the paint he stripped off all the wooden surfaces.

The dishes reflect the best of Latvia’s local food suppliers rather than what can be foraged at the market. The short menu changes every week and is highly seasonal. Spices are limited to salt and pepper.

On the day we visited the menu listed, for example, fried roots and hemp-butter sauce (€5), lamb soup (€4), perch fillet with carrots and potato puree (€11), and stewed lamb with pearl barley (€11). Ingredients like pearl barley are very local yet surprisingly rare in the city’s restaurants.

Desserts, ice cream, and biscuits are made in-house. Cheeses like the little-known Vitolberga, often featured on the menu, are family-made and taste wonderful with apple jam. There are local wines too, carefully selected, including some excellent cherry port. Reserve ahead – this restaurant is already hugely popular. For an evening full of genuine Latvian culinary experiences there are few places that match Valtera.


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