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Bistro Priedaine

Restaurants
By Howard Jarvis. 13.05.2013

Bistro priedaine

Save to foursquare Strēlnieku 1A, Riga Phone: 6728 2122
Web: http://bistropriedaine.lv/lv/main
Working hours: Mon-Fri 08.00 - 22.00, Sat 12.00 - 22.00,

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Atmosphere, simplicity, and a touch of nostalgia – all of these are among the ingredients of Bistro Priedaine, a fabulous new restaurant tucked into Riga’s Art Nouveau district. And there’s the food, of course, which manages to be rich, original and memorably satisfying.

 

The magic mostly comes down to one man, Heinrih Erhard, an experienced and imaginative chef who has already opened several great restaurants in the city, notably HE’s and Cotton, each distinctive in its own way. (Incidentally, HE’s – until recently a popular dining spot on Tērbatas Street – is preparing a re-launch in spacious new premises on Mārstaļu Street in Old Riga in early June; watch this space.)

Priedaine keeps to the traditional idea of a bistro – nicely priced but exceptional food, a seasonal menu, inspiration from old cookbooks, a warm and hospitable feeling when you walk in. Bistros were popular in Riga’s pre-war city life and Erhard is clearly trying to reawaken that kind of casual ambiance.

Beside the entrance is a board illustrating some of the dishes plus any offers using ingredients that are especially fresh that day. The lunch menu, offering two courses for €6.50 between the hours of 11.00 and 15.00, changes every day. The main menu card – no more than a single sheet – changes each month.

Stride across the parquet floor and take a seat at one of the simple wooden tables, perhaps by one of the big windows looking out onto the lane. A second more secluded dining room is at the rear. There’s also a corner for kids, though we didn’t see any little ones during our visit.

The décor is a blend of modern and rural antique. Framed photos of forests adorn the walls – priedaine loosely translates as “pine forest” in Latvian. A white-on-black lithograph-style mural of a countryside scene dominates one wall in the central room, with long reeds and birds in flight, and there’s the nice touch of a mole poking his head out of a little molehill at the bottom of another wall.

Meals are served on the kind of dainty tableware a family household might get out of the cabinet for a special occasion.

The menu lists three or four dishes per section – breakfasts, appetizers, salads, soups, main courses, pastas, desserts. The bistro opens at 8am on most days yet you can still order your eggs benedict in the middle of the afternoon if you wish.

Adding a minor extra charge for bread and butter may seem cheeky, but these home-baked breads (carrot and coriander, sourdough and cumin) and pats of earthy hempseed butter are absolutely worth it.

We’d heard in advance of our visit about the Priedaine Burger (€5.50), and we discovered that its reputation was justified. The meat consists of stewed shreds of marinated pork, smoked for six hours and braised until its juicy flakes are falling apart. A crispy cheese muffin serves as the bun, and it comes thick with filling – coleslaw salad, tomato slices, lettuce, with a side of fried potatoes and tatare sauce. The juices all mix together in a deeply rich mouthwatering flavor.

Another of the menu’s bestsellers is the cod cutlet with vegetable couscous and herb butter (€6). Elsewhere on the list are curd pancakes, smoked trout salad, Ukrainian borsch, beef braised in red wine, and beet pie with goats’ cheese that has been sourced from a small Latvian family-run farm.

But besides the burger we also decided to opt for the Olivie salad (€5.50), recreated from a recipe in a cookbook dating from 1860.

It’s a tumble of salmon roe, crayfish tails, duck meat, capers, and cucumber sitting in the hollowed-out head of an iceberg lettuce with a runny quail’s egg balanced on top.

The 19th-century original apparently had black sturgeon caviar instead of salmon, but obviously in the 21st century that would have vastly inflated the price. A Soviet version of the salad threw in potato and sausage. Bistro Priedaine’s alternative is the ideal middle route, a delicious concoction of textures and tastes.

Wash it all down with natural birch juice, the sap for which has been collected by hand in the Latvian countryside by the chef’s own parents. This thin, slightly sweet liquid is drained in spring and drunk in these parts as a healthy tonic.

There are lots of other unusual drinks to choose from too, besides a long list of wines. Alcoholic cocktails (€6.50 each) come with a local twist and include sea-buckthorn mojito, rhubarb-ginger prosecco, and a sparkling blackcurrant spritz.

We tried “Classics of Priedaine”, an old-fashioned mix of whisky with Cointreau, dandelion syrup, sea-buckthorn juice and lemon juice. With a taste somehow evocative of childhood candies, it’s a super combination. Keep your straw close to the bottom of the glass to avoid sucking up the orange buckthorn berries.

Ask to try a couple of the soft-and-syrupy homemade strong drinks (€3.50 for 4cl), created from black rowanberries, blackcurrants, ginger, lemon, honey and other local ingredients.

The Latvian beers are among the best you can find, from smaller breweries, and there are fresh fruit juices, teas and tea ceremonies, and locally roasted coffee.

We enjoyed our visit to Bistro Priedaine immensely and we’ll go back again soon for another flaky pork burger. As we discovered to our delight, what initially appears to be a rather concentrated menu is in fact an engaging treasure-trove of tastes.

 

koRL8apug 01.10.2015 18:56

For latvians this was not a vitocry but way from one sh**s into another. I would say that this Independence day is like a
huge spit in not only latvian's but all baltic's faces. 0 0

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