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Restaurant Talavera
The fine dining restaurant at the Radisson SAS Daugava Hotel Riga

Added on October 9, 2006
Talavera restaurant is closed, not in operation anymore.

Article added on December 1, 2005
The Radisson SAS Riga has two restaurants, both located on the ground floor, facing the river Daugava and enjoying the view of Old Riga. Executive chef Arthur Cunskis is responsible for both, the à la carte restaurant Panorama, which seats 105 people, and the fine dining Mediterranean restaurant Talavera, which seats some 30 people and works with more expensive produce. It is dedicated to solid-superior cuisine, with no ambition to become a Michelin-starred gourmet restaurant. The Restaurant Talavera opened on March 9, 2001, replacing the previous Grill Room.

At the Restaurant Talavera, the carte changes three times a year according to the season. It is closed in summer, when large groups arrive at the hotel and banquets take place. Arthur Cunskis has professionally traveled to France, Italy, Morocco, Egypt and other Mediterranean countries, cooking on cruise ships. Therefore, at Talavera, he offers easy dishes from this region, with fresh produce, some imagination and a few original touches.

A "normal" and a vegetarian dinner at Restaurant Talavera
Reviewed by Endija and Louis in November 2005

On Tuesdays, dinners at Talavera are accompanied by music, in our case an excellent guitar player, Aleksandrs Artomonovs, and a brilliant violinist, Helena Valiniece, offering a touch of Stéphane Grappelli, played standards with a jazz feeling throughout the evening, creating a romantic atmosphere for our candle light dinner. Incidentally, the piano at the bar is played by Michails Scaveljevs from the group MiNoKo.

Talavera always offers three types of bread before a dinner. We chose the monthly white wine to accompany our dinner, a Parellada Familia Torres 2004 (11.5%), Viña Sol, by Miguel Torres, who represents the fourth generation of a family of winemakers. The Penedès region near Barcelona is famous for Parellada, the region's most delicate grape. It ripens to perfection in the climate of the poorer soils of the Upper Penedès. Light, with a fresh aroma, elegant notes of fruit and a fine acid structure, it was well chosen for our Mediterranean dishes.

The "normal" dinner started with a broccoli Napoleon, chickpea pancakes, accompanied by broccoli and pecorino paste. The pancakes were a touch too salty, the rest light and fresh, with a taste of nuts from the olive oil.

The main dish, a duck marinated in Latvian lager, was served with sautéed spinach and porcini cannelloni beans as well as spiced mushrooms. This dish was better than the appetizer, the duck was crisp outside and tender inside, ideal to accompany the fresh spinach. This course tasted at first peppery, and changed while eating, offering hints of a variety of spices.

Used to Italian espressos, this one was nothing to write home about. The zabaglione with fruits and caramelized ginger is unlike in Italy, not presented in a sweet soup of milk, eggs, vanilla and sugar, but with white wine, honey, vanilla, marinated figs, prunes and apricots. It is a sweet mountain of calories.

The vegetarian appetizer consisted of fava gnocchi with ricotta cheese with autumnal vegetables. The gnocchi were fine, although not outstanding, the vegetables were however delicious, fresh, strong in taste and firm to the bite.

My main course, one of the two weekly specials, consisted of a tomato filled with bread, garlic, parmesan, surrounded by mushrooms on a spicy sauce with tomatoes, white wine, pepperoncino oil, accompanied by steamed spinach.

Together with a Morgentau sencha (green tea from Ronnefeldt), I tasted an apple and fig Napoleon with strawberry coulis. This dessert was elegantly presented, with fresh, juicy and tasty apples. For November, the strawberries tasted okay. The figs gave the otherwise light dish a nutritious dimension.

Like the restaurants at the Radisson in Berlin, Talavera offers solid-superior dining; there are no Michelin starred gourmet restaurants in the Baltics. The designer's concept was to make Talavera a cosy, intimate place, with the shutters closed at night. Upon request, the waiter will always open them for you. Request it, because of the excellent view of Old Riga. At the Panorama Restaurant next door, they offer this view day and night. After all, it is called "Panorama".

Biography of executive chef Arthur Cunskis

Arthur Cunskis was born in Latvia on December 27, 1968. He was trained at the Cooperative Culinary College in Riga from 1989 to 1992 as demi-chef and food manager assistant. He went on to work on several ships. From 1992 to 1994, he worked as chief cook for the Riga ship company RTF, managing three kitchen and two stewarding staff, doing pretty much everything there is to do in a kitchen on a ship. From 1994 to 1996, he was executive chef at the restaurant Royal Casino in Riga, managing nine kitchen and three stewarding staff. Among the special events, he remembers catering for the players of the Latvian ice hockey championship. In 1996 and 1997, Cunskis was chief cook for the Norwegian ship company Bergessen in Oslo. He learned Norwegian cooking. For his Norwegian bred, he received the best compliments from Norwegians. Managing three kitchen and stewarding staff, he traveled twenty countries, from Canada to Australia. In 1997, Cunskis attended the Art culinary school "Le Cordon Bleu" in London. It comprised a complete full time education (in French) on French cuisine and patisserie, food hygiene, menu creating and culinary art. He received a certificate with Credit for his educational training at the two star Michelin restaurant "Causerie" (this was before Gordon Ramsey took over) at Claridge's. From 1997 to 1999, Cunskis held the position of senior sous-chef at the Radisson SAS Daugava Hotel in Riga. From 1999 to 2001, he was sous-chef at the Radisson SAS Manchester Airport Hotel. After a short period as executive sous-chef at the Radisson SAS St. Helen's Hotel in Dublin, he occupied the position of executive sous-chef at the Radisson SAS Carlton in Bratislava in 2001 and 2002. From January 2003 to June 2004, he worked as executive chef at the Radisson SAS Park Hotel in Oslo. Since June 2004, Arthur Cunskis is executive chef at the Radisson SAS Daugava Hotel in Riga, responsible for both restaurants, Panorama and Talavera, as well as the banqueting and outside catering, leading a team of 25 kitchen and 13 steward staff.

Talavera Restaurant. Photo © Radisson SAS Daugava Hotel Riga.

The service at the restaurant. Photo © Radisson SAS Daugava Hotel Riga.

Executive chef Arthur Cunskis. Photo © Radisson SAS Daugava Hotel Riga.

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