RIGA - I liked Casablanca. That Old Town hangout had an upbeat atmosphere, good music, tasty drinks and the uncanny ability to make you stay up all night. When I heard it was shutting down, I thought Riga was going to lose one of its better bars.
The restaurant/club which has recently replaced it, however, is every bit as good. Now named "Filings" (pronounced "feelings"), the bar has a completely new 's but equally interesting 's look and feel.
In retrospect I realize all the signs of a failing restaurant were present in Casablanca. A few months before shutting down, the bar started charging an entrance fee, upping their prices and generally flailing in a series of last ditch efforts to make money.
Money, however, doesn't seem to be a problem for Filings. Glam and glitter adorn the restaurant/club, which serves a wide variety of fancy cocktails out of martini glasses imported from France.
The main floor of Filings is a high-class restaurant with a stage that features live music almost every night. The waitresses are dressed up in what appears to be a kind of scandalous 1850's garb 's tight, low-cut, leather corsets and puffed out miniskirts. A suave bartender in back twirls bottles like six-shooters, occasionally showing off by throwing one high in the air, bouncing it off his elbow and catching it inside a mixing cup ready to pour. On a slow night he will even do magic tricks.
Much like Casablanca, the basement area of Filings has a dance floor and house DJ, some VIP-style couches and another bar. Unlike Casablanca, the new bar has a decent air conditioning system but a sub-par smoking room.
Unfortunately, the strongest points of the downstairs club all seem to be offset by weaknesses. The bar itself would be quite classy, for example, if it weren't for the long line of bras hanging above it. The bar stools, likewise, are specially molded and extremely comfortable, but are just a little bit too low to match the tall bar.
Aside from a small cooler of bottled beers off to one side, the bar serves only cocktails 's all priced between three and four lats 's but with 106 of them there is something for everyone. I ordered a whiskey sour, which was served in a martini glass with a lime and cherry garnish. The strength of the drink was ideal but there was something lacking in the flavor. At least the presentation was good.
I didn't grab anything to eat while I was there. For what it's worth, the food in the main floor restaurant looked pretty good, but at five to 15 lats per meal the prices are a bit high, even for the Old Town. The kitchen also serves a more reasonably priced breakfast, making it one of the few places in the city center where a decent morning meal can be found.
Though it has its shortcomings, I generally liked Filings. I can't see myself going there every week, but the elegant, somewhat sexual air of the place certainly makes for a fun night out. Just remember to bring an ID 's as I left I saw the bouncer turn a few guys away when they couldn't produce one.
Filings Music Restaurant and Club
Smilsu Street 1/3www.fiilings.lv