Michelin arrives in Latvia
Falstaff offers an insight into the restaurant scene in the Baltic state, including many of the venues chosen by Michelin, creating a useful foodie handbook for your next trip to Riga.
Michelin has announced its first list of recommended restaurants in Latvia. In total, 26 restaurants were recommended. Of these, 19 are located in the capital Riga and 7 elsewhere in Latvia. 26 restaurants is not a large number for Latvia, with a population of nearly two million. Therefore, a lively debate ensued as to which restaurants were worthy of being in the cream of the crop and which were not.
The consensus was that the only one to get a Michelin star was Max Cekot Kitchen, who was certainly worthy of it. The fact that Barents did not get a star and one of the most popular restaurants in Riga, The Catch did not make the list at all was disappointing.
Three Bib Gourmand restaurants
The most intriguing part of Michelin's list are the three Bib Gourmand restaurants: Shoyu, Milda and Snatch. Shoyu is a small 20-seat restaurant mainly focused on ramen, a small oasis of Japanese food culture in the centre of Riga. Shoyu has been popular for a long time, and the staff talk among themselves that the new recommendation is more bad than good for them, as no one likes sending people back from the restaurant door without a reservation.
Milda is probably the only restaurant in the world to call its food Baltic. Potatoes, or more precisely potato cakes with various fillings, are a prominent feature of this cuisine. There are far more foreigners in the dining room than locals. The unfamiliarity attracts. The restaurant's dishes are simple home-cooked meals, attractively presented on a plate. The most appropriate drink to accompany these dishes is one of the local beers. The restaurant certainly offers a differentiated dining experience from other restaurants in Riga. There will be something to tell others about later.
Snatch is a modern restaurant serving Italian cuisine. Unlike Milda, the lion's share of the clientele is made up of local residents. The restaurant has won their hearts with its eye-catching interiors, good cocktails and particularly good value for money.
Time to visit
The best time to visit Riga is now. The Michelin recommendations have not created a restaurant boom. Especially in the first half of the week, there is plenty of room in both restaurants and hotels. You can get good quality at very good prices in most restaurants and hotels, not just in a few places. The Old Town of Riga is particularly beautiful at Christmas time.