Lunch at the magnificent Rundāle Palace

Located in the basement of Latvia’s most outstanding baroque architectural monuments -The Rundāle Palace, is the Café Ozollāde. As one of the three restaurants on the premises, Café Ozollāde offers Latvian cuisine at an affordable price. It is an ideal place for a quick bite or a coffee break. The palace is situated in the village of Pilsrundāle, 12.5 km from Bauska.

I was on a private tour of the palace. I arrived around lunchtime. My guide and I stopped by the cafe to grab a bite before commencing our tour. The waitresses were dressed in Latvian folk dress. You order at the counter and food will be brought to your table. When it gets busy, there is quite a wait because the waitress who takes the order is also the person who makes the coffee. So if a customer orders a coffee, she will make the coffee first, pass it to the customer then take the next order. This practice is quite common in cafes in Latvia.

There are five different menus – A’la carte, kids, snacks, tourist groups, and for those in a rush. Details of each menu can be found on their website.

My initial plan was to get a coffee and a slice of cake. As I was waiting to order at the counter, I saw a waitress holding a dish of what looked like some pancake. My tour guide told me it was potato pancakes, a traditional Latvian dish. We both ordered the potato pancakes with cranberry jam (€ 3.80), and I also ordered a Cappuccino (€ 2.50).

The Cappuccino was served in a pretty floral porcelain teacup. A poached pear filled with cranberry jam sat atop the potato pancakes, garnished with a sprig of red currants and microgreens. The pancakes were not too bad, they were quite filling.

During peak season, there are a lot of tour groups. I recommend going early or later to avoid the crowd. If you are planning on lunch, I suggest having lunch first before exploring the palace because it is quite a big palace.

Café Ozollāde

Website: http://www.ozollade.lv/beginning.htm

Telephone:  +371 29105356

Opening hours:  Monday – Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 18:00 p.m.

Address: Rundāles Pils
Pilsrundale, Latvia LV-3921

An elegant experience at The Dome Fish Restaurant

The Dome Hotel’s The Dome Fish restaurant located in the old town, Riga, serves delicious fish dishes using fresh seasonal ingredients, which are prepared by chef Sergei Siporov, who was trained in Michelin-starred restaurants outside of Latvia. Most of the restaurant’s fish source comes directly from small local fisheries.

The restaurant is elegantly decorated with dark wood furniture, upholstered chairs accompanied with a seat cushion, and dark wood tables draped with a pristine white tablecloth. The warm color palette of the interior, along with soft lighting and jazz music in the background, created an atmospheric ambiance. There is a small al fresco dining area with two tables.

Aside from the A la carte menu, the restaurant offers business lunch during weekdays and dinner on the rooftop terrace during April to October. Their daily business lunch menu is available on their Facebook page.

The staff was well-mannered and attentive; they laid out the table with care and grace. When I was about to leave, the waiter who served me apologized for the poor service, which took me by surprise because I thought the service was excellent.

I decided on the 2-course business lunch for 10.50 euros. For the 3-course, it would be 13.50 euros.  I had the catch of the day with pumpkin puree, bulgur nut salad, lemongrass, and lemongrass coconut sauce. For the dessert, I went for the Balsam panna cotta with berry sauce and granola.

I was served bread accompanied with a black rock creatively adorned with whipped butter. The bread was hands down one of the best I have had in a restaurant. It was fresh and tasted like sweet rye bread. The crust had a slight crunch with a firm but soft inside.

Each dish was like a piece of art, each one beautifully plated. The catch of the day was the orange trout. It looked simple but packed with sophisticated, nuanced flavors. The trout beautifully cooked with perfectly crisp skin. The sauce was deliciously savory and sweet, but umami. The addition of chervil added a lovely minty-like taste that accentuated the flavor of the dish. The panna cotta was refreshing. The sourish berry nutty flavor (from the sauce with the granola) was an excellent accompaniment to the sweet custard.

The lunch was intensely satisfying. I got to savor interesting and creative combination of taste. An elegant, memorable gastronomic dining experience!

 

 

 

Le Dome Fish Restaurant

Website: https://www.domehotel.lv/en/restaurant

Telephone: +371 67 509 010

Opening hours:Weekdays 7:00 a.m. – 23:00 p.m.  Weekends 8:00 a.m. – 23:00 p.m.

Address:

Rozengrāls, medieval restaurant

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According to the restaurant’s website, the premises were mentioned in the scripts in 1293 as the most ancient wine-vault and festival place of the Riga City Council! It is a favorite tourist spot, a lot of tourists would frequent this place to take photos. However, do not mistake this place as a tourist trap.

As I descend the candlelit stairs, a strong sense of suspense and anticipation came over me; this being my first experience in a medieval-themed restaurant, I was in awe by the décor and authenticity – vaulted ceiling, terracotta and wooden flooring, wall niches with decorative items and candles, banners, square and rectangular wooden tables, Savonarola style chairs and rustic chandeliers. It’s like being taken to another era. The whole restaurant is lit with candles only, giving you a strong sense of medieval times. The waiters wore medieval time outfits.

Each dish on the menu has a short historical story to it. The prices are slightly on the high side. I ordered the sea bass stuffed with cheese and horseradish served with a side of barley and lentils (€ 15), and a pumpkin pie (€2.70).  Bread wrapped in linen was served as I waited for my food. It was quite fragrant with a hint of sweetness. The food was served on a charcoal ceramic plate. The presentation of the sea bass was simple and honestly not appealing. I would have preferred it to be a fillet instead of a whole fish. The overall flavor of the dish was bland and drab; it lacked seasoning. The pumpkin pie was decent.

My waiter was cordial, attentive, and always had a smile on his face. He would come periodically to check on me. Being in Latvia for almost two weeks, he was the friendliest and most smiley waiter I’ve encountered. He deserves a waiter-of-the-year award!

Overall, I highly recommend this place for the experience.

 

 

Rozengrāls

Website: http://rozengrals.lv/

Telephone: +371 67 220 356

Opening hours: Sunday to Monday (12:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.)

Address: Rozena iela, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia

Best French Bakery in town

Cadets de Gascogne is the first French bakery in Latvia, opened by two French men. The bakery is known for its croissants which is made fresh every day and is said to serve the best croissant in town. There are six branches in Riga, and I have been to three. The menu varies from store to store but all three stores had croissants, canelés, and macaroons. Each store had a different décor. The three that I have been to had a simple and old-fashioned décor. 

I had the cheese croissant and butter croissant. The crust is flaky and the inside is soft and chewy. The cheese they used had a lovely mild nutty flavor. The croissant wasn’t overpowered by the taste of butter like many I have had in the past. The bakery on Gertrudes iela 30 had this delicious pizza slices. The pizza slice was served cold, but it was still really good.

This is a great go-to place for a quick coffee and French pastries in the morning. A coffee and a croissant would cost less than 5 euros. 

 

Cadets de Gascogne on Ģertrūdes iela 30

 

Cadets de Gascogne on Krišjāņa Barona iela 52

 

Cadets de Gascogne on Brīvības iela 73

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Cadets de Gascogne

Website: http://www.cadets.lv/#home

Telephone: +371 28 394 063

Opening hours: Sunday to Monday (7:00 a.m. – 22:00 p.m.) 

Address: Ģertrūdes iela 30, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1011, Latvia

Opening hours: 

Telephone:

Address: Krišjāņa Barona iela 52, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1011, Latvia

 Opening hours: Sunday to Monday (7:00 a.m. – 22:00 p.m.)

Telephone: +371 20 393 131

Address: Brīvības iela 73, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1010, Latvia

Koon Kee Wantan Mee, childhood nostalgia

After renewing my IC at UTC, Pudu, I took a stroll down Petaling Street (Chinatown) to find a place for lunch. I passed by Koon Kee and saw that they serve Wantan Mee. Since I haven’t had Wantan Mee for quite some time, I thought I give this place a try. Many would find the restaurant’s exterior appalling at first sight -it looks like a decrepit dirty shed. Koon Kee has been around since 1947 which explains the state that it is in now, but it would be nice if they could do some touch up to make the place more pleasant. There are only ceiling fans inside the restaurant, if you are seated inside, it’s pretty cool but the outside (under the shed) can be somewhat warm.

I ordered the classic Wantan Mee which consists of char siew (bbq pork), choy sum, a bowl of soup with wontons accompanied by pickled green chili. The noodles were perfectly cooked and springy. The sauce (a mixture of dark soy sauce, soy sauce, and oyster sauce) was aromatic and the char siew was tender. The wontons had a delicate and smooth skin. My first bite instantly evoked nostalgia from my childhood. The flavors were the same as what I had when I was a child. The Wantan Mees that I have had from my past visits were disappointing as they did not have that childhood flavor.

After doing some research online to write a review about this restaurant, it is touted that Koon Kee serves one of the best Wantan Mee in town. I haven’t had enough Wantan Mees to concur with that statement, but I don’t disagree either.

Despite the dirty surrounding, this Wantan Mee is the best I have had in a long while. If I’m in the area, I will definitely go back for more.

 

Koon Kee

Telephone: +60 3-2078 6554

Opening hours: Sunday – Monday (10:00 a.m. – 22:00 p.m.)

Address: 95, Jalan Hang Lekir, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Lavo

The day I went to Lavo was a big night for Manchester United football fans. It was the English premier league and Manchester United was up against Manchester City. My friend, who was a Manchester United fan tried persuading me to go watch the game with him. I was quite tired and seeing that the match was at midnight, I insisted that I would rather go back to the hotel and rest.  My friend said that he has already made reservations at the lounge so I said I will go for one drink.

I can see why my friend brought me to this lounge. With a 200-inch full-HD display, it was the ideal place to watch the game. The lounge has a big outdoor and indoor dining area.

Lavo is a modern avant-garde resto-lounge located in the hip and upscale Tropicana. The place is very well ventilated. There were people smoking inside but there was no cigarette smoke smell. It was quite packed when I was there, but the noise level was not too loud.

There was one thing that sort of put me off. I was seated at the bar and I noticed two bartenders drinking from the glass used for customers, then just rinsing it with water and putting it back.

Other than that, this is a good place to hang out with friends.

 

Lavo

Website: https://www.lavomy.com/

Telephone: +60 3-7803 7333

Opening hours: Sunday to Monday (12:00 p.m. – 4:00 a.m.)

Address: Lien Hoe Tower Sdn. Bhd., Menara Lien Hoe, Lien Hoe Tower Sdn. Bhd., G.,, Jalan Tropicana 1/1, Tropicana, 47410 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

Kafejnīca Vendene

This Latvian style tavern is located at the roundabout by the Cesis Victory Monument. The interior’s dim and did not feel inviting. There was only one waitress behind the counter. As I was not greeted by anyone, and there was a customer at the counter inquiring, holding a menu, I thought maybe I have to order at the counter first.  Only after I inquired that I was told that orders will be taken at the table. Seeing it was a beautiful day, I sat out on the terrace. The menu was printed on plain white A4 paper placed in a leather-like folder, not appealing.  It also took a while for the waitress to take my order.


I had the Sauerkraut soup (granny style) and Chicken Schnitzel with cheese topping. I thought the soup would be sour but it wasn’t. It was mildly sour and savory. The soup was satisfyingly appetizing, it had barley and different types of sausages. The dill gave it a lovely herb fragrance.
I did not like the Chicken Schnitzel. It was bland and the crust was soggy and had a weird texture (like a soggy fried beaten egg).

Unfortunately for me, the soup was the only thing satisfying about this restaurant.

Kafejnīca Vendene

Opening hours: Sunday – Thursday (12:00 – 21:00), Friday and Saturday (12:00 – 23:00)

Address: Vaļņu iela 1, Cēsis, Cēsu pilsēta, LV-4101, Latvia

Telephone: +371 64 161 361

 

Stockpot

Stockpot is a cozy little establishment offering affordable, quick, and healthy meals. The restaurant is owned by a British man and his Latvian wife. This is a great place for a cheap meal that is not fast food. The seating is mostly communal. Inside, there are two big communal tables and two small tables by the window, along with two tables outside (6 per table). It was awkward for me, in the beginning, to eat in the presence of strangers. However, seeing that everyone was comfortable with it, the awkwardness did not linger for long.

The menu changes daily, serving mostly Asian / Eastern dishes. There is a detailed menu on their website which is really helpful to decide if you want to have the food offered for that day. They also have lactose-free, vegetarian, and vegan dishes. There are two portions available – full or half. For me, the half portion with a bowl of soup was sufficient.

The restaurant gets very busy during lunchtime, so either go early or late.

I had dinner at Stockpot for two consecutive days. Both times I went, I really enjoyed the food. It tasted like home cooked food. Both meals cost me less than € 5 which was really cheap, considering that this was not a fast food restaurant.

 

Stockpot 

Website: http://www.stockpot.lv/en/

Address: Ģertrūdes iela 6, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1010, Latvia

Opening hours: Monday – Friday (11:00 a.m. – 20:30 p.m.)

Telephone: +371 27 832 165

Cesu Maize

 

Cesu Maize is a small bakery located next to the St. John’s church in the Cesis old town selling handmade traditional bread. The bread is baked from Latvian organic whole grain wheat and spelt wheat whole grain flour. Made with natural leaven (sourdough), without the addition of bread yeast (turisms.cesis.lv, 2018).

It is a very small bakery tucked inside a building. There is a big sign outside the main entrance, you can’t miss it. When I entered the bakery, the smell of freshly baked bread had enveloped the whole place. The owner/ baker was friendly, he spoke some English. There is a poster on the wall at the entrance with information on the different bread available. There are also bread samples. The price is based on weight. I bought the spelt wholegrain wheat sweet bread which had nuts, raisins, and dried apricots for €2.40. It had a dark hard crust and the inside was dense and semi-soft.

When I had my first bite, I did not think much of the bread. I started to taste the fragrant flavors of the bread on my third bite and I was like “Wow, this bread is delicious”! I could not stop eating it. It was mildly sour, sweet with a nutty flavor.

I highly recommend this bakery if you are traveling to Cesis. It is one of the best bread I have tasted and I am certain you will not be disappointed.

 

Cesu Maize

Website: https://www.facebook.com/cesu.maize/

Opening hours: 10:00 – 18:00

Telephone: +371 26 412 803