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By RigaNOW!. 01.12.2015

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It is the National Library of Latvia. The building cannot be missed due to its unique architecture. The author of the library is Latvian Gunārs Birkerts, who during the Second World War, fled to the United States. There he has left a profound trace as well by planning excellent masterpieces in many major cities of America. The National Library of Latvia has another name – the ‘Castle of Light’.

There are many explanations for this name, after all, the library is a storage of knowledge, and knowledge provides a spiritual light for people. However, there is a more ancient explanation. According to ancient Latvian legends, the Castle of Light is the centre of special national culture’s treasure and knowledge. It sunk in a lake when foreign warriors came into this land, and would rise from the water only when Latvia would be free. It is deeply symbolic that after so many years, the new library building finally rose on the banks of Daugava!

Nowadays, the National Library stores more than 4 million printed matters (books, newspapers, music sheets, phonograms, manuscripts, posters, postcards and other). The unique building also is worth visiting. The colours of Latvian lats’ bank-notes has been captured in the styling of the library’s interior. From the atrium of the building, you can see the People’s Bookshelf, which is five floors high. It marks the central axis of the building – the storage of the library. The construction planned by Gunārs Birkerts was designed for more than ten thousand books.  The books with personal records presented by the readers and friends of the library are stored there.

Of course, in such significant building, which is visited by a huge amount of people, should be a place to eat! Therefore, a new restaurant “Klīversala” was recently opened in the National Library. It was once a name of this Riga’s place – an island of Daugava. By the way, the first thing that you will notice entering the restaurant would be two enormous stylized silhouettes of trees. The designer of the trees also is the architect Birkerts. One of the trees is linden and the second is oak. In Latvian folklore a linden is feminine symbol, whereas an oak – masculine. Besides, the owners of the restaurant indicates that these stylized trees signify the symbolic meaning of the library – profound roots of knowledge rising through the stem towards the sky, towards enlightenment!

By the intention of the restaurant’s owners, two young people Ronalds Undzēns and Lauris Streņgis, “Klīversala” is multifunctional. The premise is divided by glass walls. During the day (until 17.00) there is a self-service bistro, which satisfies the needs of library’s visitors for warm meal. The prices are democratic. Nevertheless, there also is a restaurant zone, where at table-clothed tables waiters will serve you a la carte. The beautiful view of Daugava and colourful landscape of Riga will perfectly supplement the menu of the restaurant. In the menu you will find Latvian traditional dishes prepared in a new and contemporary manner. The chef of the restaurant Dāvis Kancāns, a young man who already has gained good experience in several restaurants of Riga and Denmark, informed that it was an intentional choice, since he tends to create a ‘library of Latvian tastes’.

The mentioned two stylized trees are located in the central axis of the restaurant. The interior relates to the ascetic and minimalistic style of the library – a grey colour is dominant, many glass and wood planes, which look good in a large premise by creating a light atmosphere. The menu is not very wide; there are five or six offers in each section. It also is made intentionally because Dāvis considers that too big of a choice may confuse visitors, making it more difficult to choose from. In appetisers menu we would like to highlight a various types of in-house made herring with crushed “Vitelotte” potatoes and soft-boiled quail eggs /5.00 euro/ or layered vegetables with cheese dumpling and tomato vinaigrette /4.60 euro/. In the salad category smoked eel salads /8.00 euro/ definitely is a real Latvian delicacy.

You should certainly try white porcini soup with black lentils and sprouts from “Vecapēni” farm /5.80 euro/, or ‘Ligatne’ onion soup served with in-house smoked brown trout /7.50 euro/. You would probably also like flounder served with split pea souffle and ‘Riga sparkling wine’ sauce /12.00 euro/. If you only want to sit and eat a little, you can choose from various snack platters. Moreover, for dessert we suggest white chocolate fondant with pine snow /6.00 euro/. As a good practice, we would like to emphasize the fact that for all dishes the allergens also are indicated in brackets. Not many restaurants in Riga offer this ‘extra’ which in modern world slowly is becoming a norm.

Products which are used to prepare the dishes mainly are purchased from Latvian producers. Of course, some produce like shrimps, lemons and others are ordered elsewhere, since there are no such species in Latvian nature… The wine selection is huge. There are approximately 150 offers for all tastes. On Sundays a brunch table is served for 16 euros. It is a possibility for chef and his team to express themselves in all glory!

Surely, the place is new. It improves every day. Therefore, a certain sterility and the absence of special atmosphere cannot be called as disadvantages of the restaurant. As we know, it will come only with a time. Taking into account that the team of “Klīversala” is ambitious and energetic, it will surely come!


Creamed sauerkraut soup with alder-smoked meat foam and smoked pork 7.00

Slow-cooked pork fillet, served with spinach-pastry roll and porcini cream sauce 10.00

Cheese-beetroot cream served on crumbled rye biscuit 7.00


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