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Zivju lete

Restaurants
By RigaNow!. 14.08.2015

zivju lete

Save to foursquare Dzirnavu 72
Riga
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The famous French explorer of the seas Jacques-Yves Cousteau once said that it would be much more appropriate to call our planet ocean rather than earth, as water covers two thirds of its surface and water, as we all know, is home to millions of different creatures.

Many of these creatures can be used in the diet of that part of life going by the name of homo-sapiens, who regard themselves as the crown of all creation, which in reality is far from the truth.

Riga on this score has been lucky. It has developed on the shores of the sea at place where another body of water, the Daugava river, flows into it. So you might think that Latvians, like the Japanese, consume a lot of fish and similar valuable omega-3 fatty acid nutrients.

Well, yes and no. Yes, 50 years ago there were many places to enjoy seafood in Riga. Both classy, for those with thicker wallets, and very simple, for the masses. It’s hard to explain what happened later, but 10 to 20 years ago it was al- most impossible to find places offering fishy food and, frankly, today they are also few in number.

So it’s a pleasure to reveal that another fine place has appeared, with the fairly simple name Zivju lete, or Fish stand. Tourists who do not explore the city beyond Old Riga will not discover it and miss out. But it’s just three blocks from the opera, on Dzirnavu a few meters from where it intersects with Kr.Barona.

In early may, a hardworking young man named Murad Jusko, who was born in Riga but for many years lived in the us and Moscow, returned home and decided to make use of his work experience from a variety of restaurants and bars. Murad himself says that at first he considered an Italian restaurant, then had an idea for Spanish tapas, until suddenly he understood – what’s really needed is a place that serves seafood.

This place must not come with any claims to being at the “expensive” end of the market, but instead be simple, stylish, adapted to the busy city center and filled with a personalized attitude to service. So don’t be surprised if you find yourselves being served by the owner himself.

The first thing that welcomes you when you enter is the scent. Maybe a fishy aroma can be negative for some, but fish are hardly Chanel no.5. Here the dishes are prepared in front of you, which means you can interrogate Chef Vilnis Bresis on what he is doing and why, and what spices he’s using. So there’s no way around that fishy aroma!

The interior is for up to around 30 people and is created in an industrial style with vintage accents
– soviet-era spring scales, bright glass tiles with a marine theme and ragged metal lamps. The main bar and kitchen counter are coated with staves that recall herring boxes, and together with the scales create the feeling that you’re in a simple fish market but away from the market’s turmoil. Everything is dominated by natural wood and metal, and in the

Background you can hear unobtrusive music. Both content and form have been thought through.

Paradoxically, there is no menu. And there will not be one, because what’s on offer is attached to plates at the counter. Some visitors might get a bit confused, as there is no clear order of things – first you go to the counter to choose the food and then take a seat. But that’s not inconvenient. The range often changes, and you’ll always be able to get fresh fish from the market (herring, pilchard, salmon, flounder, etc.) And other exotic ocean wonders (shrimp, scallops, mussels).

Besides fish and seafood you can also choose bouillabaisse (€4), one of several seafood salads, and, still not widely known in Latvia, black risotto (€12.50) and the little-known Peruvian delicacy ceviche made from perch (€6.50). There are also some desserts – the classics – crème brûlée (€4) and cheesecake (€4.50). All orders are prepared right behind the counter by two cooks, and

The fish are served with salad, rice, fries, freshly baked bread and a carafe of water.

On our visit we tried the bouillabaisse. Maybe in a tavern in Marseilles you will be offered some- thing even better, but we can say quite honestly – it was excellent, with mussels, shrimp and crucian carp. The broth made from three different fish was aromatically saturated as a tropical night, with a strong aftertaste. The portions are not big, but any hunger disappears.

There is one thing that the owners should take into consideration – the butter that is being served with the fresh bread comes right from the refrigerator, so it is very difficult to spread. But many other places commit the exact same sin.

It should be noted that the prices are very democratic. Soup and a second course, or salad and a second course, can be had for no more than €13-14. The wine menu is quite narrow, dominated by fresh whites and a few reds and rosés. All have been specially selected by a professional sommelier.

The owner emphasizes that Zivju lete is a place created so that the people who work there would also enjoy it. And they do. The guests too! In the evenings, if you have not booked a table, you may not be able to get in. And one more positive note – it has a large number of repeat visitors. 




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