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De Commerce Gastro Pub 1871

Restaurants
By Anatol Steven. 12.06.2014

De Commerce Gastro Pub 1871

Save to foursquare Aspazijas Boulevard 36/38
(in SemaraH Hotel Metropole)
, Riga
Phone: 6601 0333
Email: reservations@semarahhotels.com
Web: www.semarahhotels.com
Working hours: Mon-Sun 12.00 - 23.00,

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There’s a reason for the fanciful name. The Metropole, just sumptuously renovated, reopened and rebranded to adopt the homegrown name SemaraH Hotel Metropole, is Riga’s oldest surviving hotel, dating back to – you guessed it – 1871.

Naturally, those most frequenting the rooms over the decades were traders, many of them arriving at the nearby train and bus stations. Now, as then, you can watch people, trams and traffic from the restaurant’s big windows. This was the city’s hub for business deals, right on these very premises, and it’s open to hotel guests and non-guests alike.

The new restaurant’s décor in golds and blacks reflects that era but certainly isn’t old-fashioned. This is a pub with innovative gastronomic twists concocted in the jovial atmosphere of the kitchen by award-winning chef Kārlis Visockis, who was voted “best Latvian chef” in 2012 and recently scooped up a prize at a prestigious competition in St Petersburg.

The menu is broadly Latvian and Scandinavian, but the chef plays around with the textures of every dish. That doesn’t just mean he mixes unusual ingredients together – he also keeps them separate. Take the cold beet soup (€5.50), a traditional Latvian summertime starter if ever there was one. But here the natural kefir, or fermented milk, becomes a creamy sorbet, and the waiter pours the deliciously thick purple soup over it and all the other ingredients, including cucumber relish and “cherry and tomato jam”.

It’s a wonderful touch as you don’t have to mix it all up – just taste different combinations of each of the constituent parts. Enjoy it with homemade bread presented with organic seed butter and Himalayan rock salt. We’ve also heard good things about the Caesar salad with chicken (€6), which has a similar approach, and the asparagus-spinach cream soup (€5), both of which we’ll try next time.

De Commerce has a sommelier-compiled wine list. Expertise is often on hand to match each dish with an appropriate glass. We were suggested a Tommasi le Rosse pinot grigio (€24 for a bottle, €5 per glass) from Veneto for the starter. We saw nothing wrong with that and kept it flowing for the entire meal. Equally we could have gone for summer rosé like the Miguel Torres Santa Digna Reserva cabernet sauvignon (€20 / €4.40), which would have suited the next course.

Seafood dishes emphasize moules marinières – Belgian mussels in a white-wine sauce, available here in the styles “classic”, “creamy” or “el diablo” (with red chili). But we fancied duck breast (€15.50), cooked medium-rare and served with vegetables, gravy and a big smear of parsnip puree. The meat was red, just how we like it, accompanied perfectly by flavorsome seasonal vegetables.

On the strength of this we stayed for dessert. Brulee 3 times (€6.50) is a super-creamy and not too heavy play on crème brûlée, the classic recipe whipped up in three small doses with chocolate and rum, caramel, and white chocolate and citrus.




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