Reasons people come to Riga. COD
It was back in 2016 when they opened the door and the windows. People passed by and saw this minimalistic and dark interior. There was no gold, no silver, no blinking shiny things. People were scared. But those who went in, had a great surprise. The food.
No, no, no worries – the food was amazing, great, delicious and so on. But to an average local going to a restaurant to eat, going out is more about bigger portions, better prices and quality than smaller and better, which was the concept here.
When I met the owner (I knew him before the restaurant COD), he was in Latvia after some work in Moscow, London and elsewhere. He knew then and he knows now what is quality: he wanted to go for that and he did. As he said, “The first year was hard, the second better, so I believe the third will rock”. With 24th place in the White Guide (fine dining), they are now in a position where Scandinavians like to book their trip to Riga just because of COD: it is the only ‘robata’ grill bar in Latvia and serves food it is hard to get anywhere else. With a chef (now working in Faviken as sous chef but still follows what happens in COD) who used to work in top Michelin restaurants and has the greatest and deepest respect for Japanese culture, they showed Riga that food can be different: that there is a concept of sharing and of eating smaller, but better portions; that grilled food can have it's own, special taste; that sushi can be a bit better than what we are used to; that you can have edamame beans as a snack instead of bread basket with butter; and that you do not have to feel heavy at the end of the meal.
From the place with dark windows and no people, it has become THAT place with the same windows (but somehow brighter) and with many more people and an appreciation for what is served there.
So, the next time you plan a visit to Riga, plan it carefully – stop by at COD and be prepared to start with one of the town’s best cocktails (even alcohol free ones taste amazing) and then an amazing meal to follow. If you eat meat, the wagyu in any variation is a must; the same goes for the chilli and salted edamame beans for starters. Then don't be shy and share some sushi, sashimi, and plates from the grill (foie gras is WOW, just like the duck breast). And if there is still room for dessert, the mochi and early grey crème brulee should be the first ones to start with.
Photos and text: Signe Meirane