Loose lips sink ships

  • 2008-02-27
  • By Talis Saule Archdeacon

HIDEOUT: This relatively small, hard to find cafe offers good music, a relaxing atmosphere and a delicious tomato soup.

RIGA - I loath writing this article. Nearly every entertainment writer reserves a few hideouts of their own, places they keep to themselves. Private, comfortable places. Places they would never want to reveal to the wider world.

Though I have only been to Meta Cafe a few times 's it has, after all, only been open since about New Year's 's I already consider it my own little sanctuary.
Yet I know, deep down, that this hard to find secret spot will not stay secret for long. It is too good for that 's too good to keep to myself. So against my better judgment, I sat down to reveal all about my cozy new dig.
Even though a friend had given me detailed directions, I almost walked right by it. The unassuming exterior could easily be mistaken as a supply shed for the nearby tennis courts or some city owned storehouse.
Unpretentious yet elegant, out of the way yet in the heart of the city, homey yet professional, all of the cliches seem to fit with Meta Cafe. But somehow, the Cafe itself is far from cliche. 

The moment I walked into Meta Cafe, I fell in love with it. It started as it almost always does, with the music. A little funky and very laid back, it was the kind of music that can serve equally well as the main attraction or as simple background beats. Burt Bacharach, Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye had me tapping my feet before I even picked up a menu.
There were a few different styles of chairs scattered throughout the room. Most people sat on average looking black and white classic wooden chairs with high backs; or the modernesque, brightly-colored plastic chairs with deep grooves. Spying yet another kind of seat, a well-cushioned arm chair, I grabbed a few free ones and we sat down, feeling like libertines.

The tables are all made of cast iron bases with large slabs of smooth concrete or wood forming the main surface. The tables have wheels attached to the bottom, making it easy for the waitress/bartender to rearrange the layout to fit the crowd.
Even the lighting is worth mentioning. A gridlock of black bars crisscross the ceiling 's much like in a theater or studio 's with various kinds of lights clopped on at odd intervals. A large, LED stage light in one corner bathed the room in ever changing colored light.

Meta Cafe has a full bar, a selection of flavorful teas and a faux-mahogany cappuccino machine. A juice maker somewhere in back brews juices so thick they can support a straw even when the glass is half empty.
The menu offers mostly soups and snacks. The tomato soup, my personal favorite, is easily one of the best in town. Thick and chunky, the spicy tomato soup is almost like a warm gazpacho. It comes with hearty, and apparently fresh baked, light and dark breads which alone are almost worth the price of the soup.
Prices range between two and three lats (around 4 euro) for both drinks and appetizers. Though not the cheapest deal it town, it is certainly more affordable than anyplace in the Old Town.
For the moment, Meta Cafe only has indoor seating 's an important consideration now that temperatures are rising 's but there a plans to build an expansive terrace with views of the canal on one side and the tennis courts on the other.

So please, come and enjoy the laid back atmosphere at Meta Cafe, but try not to swamp it and drive me out of my own secret refuge.

Meta Cafe
near 4 Kronvalda Bulvaris, between the canal and the tennis courts