A garlic scent-sation

  • 2008-04-16
  • By Monika Hanley

Distinct aroma: To get there just follow your nose.

RIGA -  The Garlic Bar (Kiploku Krogs) beckons you in off the cobbled streets of Riga with an intoxicating aroma you can smell from a block away.

I was in the restaurant over the summer and I was keen to see how it had changed. Venturing out into what would normally be a packed Saturday night in Riga's Old Town, I was surprised to find myself in a completely empty restaurant. Though it was rather early in the evening 's and it soon filled up 's it was refreshing to visit a restaurant which wasn't overcrowded with tourists and stag parties.

As I seated myself, waiters dashed over to my corner table, lit candles stuck into old balsam bottles and presented me with eco-friendly menus held together with birch sticks.

The Garlic Bar definitely lives up to its name; the menu has everything you can imagine being made with garlic 's and even some things you can't.

Ice cream with garlic sauce, garlic parfaits, and garlic shots of vodka are just some of the featured eclectic items. The menu also boasts a wide variety of fresh salads and soups with only a hint of garlic. Only two items on the food menu come completely without garlic (clearly marked with a star, so as not to disappoint the garlic aficionado).

I savored a salad with baked chicken, bacon and mushrooms, smothered in a warm garlic sauce and a bowl of chunky tomato spinach soup. Each entree comes with bread and a choice of garlic pesto for a mild to extreme garlic spread experience. 

Then, to be adventurous, I ordered a garlic parfait, which turned out to be surprisingly sweet and not as garlicky as I had expected. 

The prices are beyond reasonable, with the most expensive item on the menu ringing in at 9 lats (13 euro) and the average price for entrees hovering at the 3 lat (4 euro) mark.

The bar has by far some of the cheapest and biggest cocktails I've seen in Riga, to be slowly enjoyed in the cozy atmosphere.

The overall goal of the restaurant is presentation, from the arrangement of the pesto spreads that come with your bread basket to the artfully designed cocktails. 

Not a restaurant that disappoints, the only downside are the televisions in the corners, trasforming a bistro ambiance into more of a tavern-like atmosphere. 

Despite the garlicky breath afterwards, I would recommend the Garlic Bar's intimate setting for any occasion, from dates to family outings.

The Garlic Bar is located in a quiet, hidden old town location, not far from Dome Square and the parliament building. Not a late night hangout, it is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. everyday.

3/5 Jekaba Street,
(entrance from Maza Pils Street)