I don’t know why, but Latvian cuisine doesn’t seem to get the same reaction as French or Italian.
What could be more romantic than potatoes, oily herrings, sauerkraut, pitch black rye bread more dense than lead…oh, and did I forget the potatoes?
Ah my love, come hither and let me ladle bread soup and cabbage twixt your ruby red lips…
I don’t paint the most attractive of food pictures, but Latvian cuisine does come from a very different angle to your traditional Euro-centric perspective, and can take some acclimatisation.
Long, cold winters, a history of foreign oppression, and access to both fresh and salt water result in a culture that prizes the simple, wholesome flavours that come from rustic food, fresh from the field, forest or Latvia’s plentiful waterways.
It’s also a whole lot tastier than you might think!
Opening their doors in March 2015 smack-bang in the middle of Adelaide Central Market, it’s taken more than a year for the stars to align and a meal at The Latvian Lunchroom to become a reality.
Sadly Karen couldn’t join me for this trip down memory lane, but instead I had three lovely true-blue Aussie ladies with me whose only previous experience with Latvian cooking had been the universally acclaimed and supremely delicious pīrāgi!
Everyone loves a hot, fluffy pīrāgs (you can find a recipe, and my effort at baking a batch here), but what would they think of genuine, hearty, traditional Latvian cooking…?
I think it’s safe to say it was a resounding success!
Was it enough to convince them to move to Latvia and indulge in such tasty delights on a daily basis…? I suspect not!
A simple yet tasty dish. The potato salad was made very similarly to the way my late Vecmamma used to make hers for Sunday lunches with the rellies, the fishy roll-mop a deliciously salty mouthful, and who doesn’t love a tart, crunchy gherkin followed by a cheeky Livu Sencu beer to wash it all down?!
The selection of open face sandwiches is fantastic, with options including Riga sprats (fish), caraway herbed cheese, smoked salmon, tonguewurst, blood sausage, herrings with egg, smoked beef and polish sausage.
Nat tried the blood sausage, herbed cheese and liverwurst options, deeming all to be delicious. The real winner though was the heavy bread, packed full of earthy, outstanding flavour; such a rarity in most supermarket bakeries.
Frikadeļu zupa, or meatball soup, is not only a staple but a favourite of many Latvians. With a good serving of vegetables in addition to the small beef balls, the broth was reported by Bec to be both tasty and filling. The addition of a couple of warm piragi on the side also went down an absolute treat!
Other menu items that I’m sure would prove popular are the Hunter’s Breakfast (bacon or chopped sausage on fried potatoes topped with a fried egg for only $9) and the Euro Hot Dog (smoked kranski served on warm crusty roll, with sauerkraut, fried onions and bacon, gherkin and condiments for $9.50).
Burger fiends will enjoy their Riga Burger, consisting of an open burger bun spread with pate (optional) topped with beef kotlete (patty), melted caraway cheese and beetroot vinaigrette served with mustard and gherkin for $15.
Overall thoughts on The Latvian Lunchroom?
Latvian may not be the first cuisine that comes to mind when you’re feeling the onset of an epic hunger, but if you’re looking for something a little different, drop by The Latvian Lunchroom and take a walk on the Livonian side!
You’ll find The Latvian Lunchroom on the southern side of Adelaide Central Market, perfectly located for a lunch time break from the daily grind.
For more information, drop by their Facebook page here – The Latvian Lunchroom on Facebook
They’ve also got an excellent website here, where you’ll not only find their menus, but some more info regarding their range of imported Latvian products – The Latvian Lunchroom
Tuesday: 8am to 4:30pm
Thursday: 10am to 4:30pm
Friday: 8am to 7:30pm
Saturday: 8am to 2pm