Feb 16 2013

Biblioteka N1 Restorans

Biblioteka N1 Restorans is one of the best restaurants in Riga. It does have a funny name thought as they say they are the N1 restaurant in the name. Whilst I think the food is good and it could easily be compared to London standards, it is very expensive for Latvian standards and my dad was very shocked about the prices when I told him, as the average main course costs LVL15 (almost 19 pounds) which is expensive as in Latvia the average main course even in a good restaurant costs LVL8-12. But there are a lot of reasons why you would want to go to Biblioteka. Biblioteka is located in one of the central parks in Riga and has a wonderful view overlooking a park and during the winter months you can see trees full of snow and during the summer the park is full of beautiful and bright flowers. The main chef is Maris Jansons and he uses traditional Latvian ingredients to create Latvian as well as European dishes. The interior of the restaurant is very pleasant, the couches on which you sit are large and made out of small cushions and the place is full of books and magazines and flowers (the name Biblioteka means Library in Latvian and the place does have a quiet, intellectual feel with a lot of books and a very impressive collection of lonely planet guides which I always want to steal when I am there to aid my future travels).

I went to Biblioteka for lunch with my boyfriend, my brother and my friends Baiba and Petersons and it was Saturday lunch time and very few other tables were occupied. Our amuse bouche was Latvian salmon with a pancake and cream, very Latvian thing to eat and interesting to make this usually bigger course dish into a small amuse bouche. The starters are LVL7 on average (around 9 pounds) and all of us chose the same starter, "lightly pickled Baltic herring with horseradish cream, pickled vegetables, potatoes and cauliflower", as the waiter said this was one of their signature dishes that a lot of magazines take pictures off and it represents "MLV" (or CLC in English = contemporary Latvian cuisine), and to go with this the waiter recommended we have their home made horseradish vodka. The dish was very pretty when it arrived, there were so many different sizes and shapes of things on the plate and so many nice colours, I was very impressed and this is probably one of the best presented dishes I have had in a Latvian restaurant. I loved the Baltic herring, the horseradish cream was nice but a bit too heavy for me and I could only have a tiny bit, and the pickled vegetables were delicious. Loved the whole thing apart from the crème. The horseradish vodka was remarkably strong in terms of alcohol content and also taste as it had a super overpowering horseradish taste. It did go very well together and I am very surprised in a positive way about the creativity of Latvian chefs as together it is a remarkable and memorable thing to eat and drink, but for me it was just a tiny bit too strong. After our starter we were given a palette cleanser, cold crème/ sorbet made with quince. I loved this as quince is a traditional Latvian thing and I have not seen it being used by any other restaurant, so once again loved the creativity. Note thought palette cleansers are usually given after the main course, so maybe they tried to be super cool here and give it in between the starter and the main course or they just got it wrong. For my main course I ordered something that I found quite interesting on the menu, "piglet comfit with smoked eel from Latgale" (Latgale is a region in Latvia) and served with "green edamame puree and veal stock sauce". I have not seen piglet and eel together in the same dish in any other restaurant and I just loved the creativity once again and also loved how they had used eel from a certain part of Latvia (restaurants all over the world are very proud to use their countries various regions produce and it is nice to see Latvian restaurants doing the same). I was not crazy about the taste though, the piglet had quite a bit of fat and skin, the eel was nice but only a small piece, and I did not like the edamame puree at all. And the funny thing was that the veal stock that I got over my meat almost every other dish had as well (the waiter came around with a pan full of veal stock and poured it over 3 out of 5 dishes we were having). A bit strange that the same veal stock would go with everything, but if the chefs think so. Also you can see in the pictures below, but every single dish was decorated with a pea shoot. My friend Baiba had the "Lamb ribs with garlic mashed potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, veal broth curry sauce, dried cherry tomatoes". The lamb was nice and had a strong lamb taste to it, but I think they had totally murdered and overcooked the meat, and lamb is quite nice medium and they had cooked it longer than a well done lamb. My brother chose the "Garlic butter fried lobster meat, sea scallop, tiger shrimps with light cauliflower purée, rock-lobster claw sauce, smoke oil drops" and he really enjoyed it and said it was delicious. My boyfriend had the "red deer with truffled veal broth sauce, braised red cabbage, mashed sweet potatoes" and note it was not truffled veal sauce as he got the same sauce that Baiba and I had. My friend Petersons was not feeling that hungry and he did not want to have a main course so he decided to have another starter, "Home-smoked salmon with drained horseradish cream, quail eggs, potato, cucumber and pearl barley". As you can see they really like horseradish in this restaurant as it features in quite a few things. We also decided to order some sides and went for the "cauliflower cheese with butter", "fried seasonal vegetables" and mashed potatoes with truffle oil". The sides only cost around LVL3 each for a big portion and so they were probably the best value for money dish in Biblioteka, and I especially liked the cauliflower cheese and the mash. We did not want to have any desert but the waiter told us that as it was Valentine's day a few days ago, they wanted to give the girls, so me and Baiba, a free desert and we chose one of the lightest deserts they had on the menu that had cream cheese, pineapple jelly, mango, pavlova and mango sorbet. I was very impressed to see fresh mango in Latvia in the middle of the winter and it was very juicy and ripe and nice, and I also loved the pavlova and the mango sorbet.

Biblioteka is probably one of the restaurants that is the closest to Michelin and high end dining you can find in Latvia, and it does offer some very creative and interesting dishes, and if you want to try some Latvian dishes and don’t want to go to the cheaper cafes and restaurants where they are usually found and want something more refined, then Biblioteka is the place for you and you will probably come across some traditional Latvian ingredients. I was very impressed with a lot of the dishes here in terms of the presentation and combination of ingredients. For the average Latvian it is probably quite expensive, but if you don't mind paying these type of prices then definitely go there.
Location: Riga
Price for 5 people with some alcohol (not for all): LVL 160 (and I left LVL15 tip)
Date: 16/02/13

Maija rated: 



Biblioteka N1 Restorans
Tērbatas iela 2 LV-1050
Biblioteka N1 Restorans Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 4