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Tēvocis Vaņa (Uncle Vanya)

By Andra Kunstberga. 11.10.2013

Uncle Vanya

Save to foursquare Smilšu 16, Riga Mobile: 2788 6963
Working hours: Mon-Sun 11.00 - 23.00,



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Uncle Vanya is a warm and welcoming spot proving that authentic Russian cuisine isn’t just borsch.

In multiethnic Riga, a change in restaurant management often means a change in nationality. So when a traditional Latvian eatery, Folkklubs ala pagrabs, recently moved out of a premier spot in the Old Town for another location (Peldu 19), it wasn’t much of a surprise to see a Russian restaurant springing up in its place.

Uncle Vanya, as the new restaurant is known in English, is perhaps better suited to this upscale locale of offices and flashy cars. Folkklubs was low-key with its beardy clients, ultra-casual dress and impromptu strumming of traditional instruments. Vanya on the other hand has quickly become a venue for informal business meetings and respectable family gatherings.

Like a staging of Chekhov’s famous play, the interior is furnished like a 19th century Russian rural gentry homestead. For any lover of Russian culture it evokes scenes from Anna Karenina or nostalgic Soviet-made costume melodramas.

It was a Latvian interior designer, Gunta Lapiņa, who created the homey ambiance, taking as a guide 19th century pictures of Russian countryside mansions. Bookshelves and cupboards are arranged around the tables giving some semblance of privacy. Tomes by the Russian literary giants as well as Jack London, Jules Verne and other writers widely read in Russia adorn the spotless shelves.

Cheery wallpaper and tasseled lampshades give shades and colors to each of the alcoves, and old photographs add to the cozy atmosphere. But the décor is never overdone.

Dishes and refreshments on offer are almost entirely homemade including the house’s own kvass, beer, liqueurs, bread, pickles, bacon and more. Recipes from cookbooks dating from 1895 to 1910 inspired the menu.

Essential in any Russian restaurant is cabbage soup, and here an especially rich variety is prepared (€5.70) according to an old recipe with stewed homemade sauerkraut and a broth from three kinds of meat – pork, beef and chicken. Dried white mushrooms are added and the soup is infused for three days before being served in a clay pot with sour cream.

All the favorites are here: Baltic herring with potatoes (€5), borsch and solyanka (around €6), sturgeon served for two (€24), pancakes with sturgeon caviar (€64 per 50 grams of caviar) or salmon roe (€14 per 140 grams). Spreads of home-cooked meats including beef, pork, tongue, and chicken roulade are served on polished wooden trays cut from birch trees.

It’s not often you see lard on a menu, but here it is, smoked and rendered together with traditional salted bacon and rye toasts (€11). “Chicken entrails” are smoked in a pot with potatoes, mushrooms and a sweet cream sauce. A visit to Uncle Vanya is a chance to sample what you’d find in a cellar well-prepared for a Siberian winter.

For dessert the highlight is warm apple pie with cream-caramel sauce and ice cream (€4).

Vodka comes in chilled shots at around €3 each – or get a bottle for the table for €70. Vodka infusions are made with cranberry, blackcurrant or root horseradish. The sound of clinking glasses becomes more regular as the evening wears on, accompanying the sounds of Russian romance music and the rising volume of conversation. Occasionally someone spontaneously bursts into joyful song.

1 28.03.2015 12:17



-1' 28.03.2015 12:17



1 28.03.2015 12:17



Uq8HbMlKOvoo 26.10.2015 07:53

Please extend this run or else redshecule for another series of performance ..PLEASE!!don't let it DIE! Remiaining sold
out peerformances must prove to y ou that there is still a market and a large number of folks, currently unable to get
seats, who will support you! Publicity came too late for somelazy but interested folks.



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