Location: Riga, Latvia
The Baltics: a small corner of the world that punches above its weight in terms of garlic bread availability per capita (as I learned on a previous trip to Tallinn in neighbouring Estonia). Garlic bread seems to be a fairly standard and socially acceptable snack here and this makes me feel a sense of belonging.
Riga is kind of like a bigger, less hipster version of Tallinn. Wide streets, a real mix of architecture (including a Stalin era ‘skyscraper’), and Spring in full bloom. Just quietly, this was a “runcation” – the word to describe traveling abroad to participate in some kind of running event. I did some serious marathon spectating and a sweaty 6km race. But enough talk about running…!
The garlic bread was frequent and overall, quite tasty! Here is a full rundown:
- Folkklubs Ala Pagrabs – a cosy underground pub that serves traditional Latvian food with a side of live folk music. They also happen to serve my favourite Somersby Cider by the pint (don’t judge, I know that stuff is sweet). Their garlic bread came as thick chunks of rye bread with aioli. It was heavy going and I vividly remember the outer edges of each piece being very salty and garlicky, but then the rest rather dull. It was a roller-coaster of emotions at each bite but a decent 7/10.
- Lido – a fairly bizarre place made up of a few restaurants and a completely empty Tivoli-like theme park featuring a gigantic beaver made out of sticks. We went there with a large group of people who had just done a (half) marathon and were absolutely destroying the bottomless buffet. Whilst at the bar, I was delighted to see little glass bowls of my favourite food being offered as a ‘bar snack’. Hallelujah! The garlic toast was a little too crunchy but still a welcome addition to the rather unexciting buffet food. 6/10.
- Paddy Whelan’s Pub – OK so this place sounds terribly uncouth, but our options for brunch were limited the morning we had to leave. Luckily the garlic bread was actually pretty good! (See main image.) The grainy bread was softer and chewier though slightly less garlicky than was ideal. A generous 8/10.
Thanks Riga for the garlic bread offerings. It was a treat!