Hospitalis: Medical Adventure with Outstanding Cuisine

Kevin Eagan - Aug 31, 2009
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If you want to enjoy extraordinary Soviet hospital atmosphere head to the capital city of Latvia, Riga, where you can find a unique themed restaurant aptly called Hospitālis. The restaurant was developed in cooperation with several Latvian hospitals and the local Museum of History of Medicine that donated authentic hospital-related articles that now decorate the interior of the restaurant.

The author of the whole concept is Maris Revalds, the chairman of the board of a leading medical institution of Riga called Health Center 4. Two artists of new generation, Zane Tetere and Guntars Gravins, then took the idea and creatively visualized it into the current form. Some thematic restaurants may lack unified style, but in Hospitālis the balance between self-ironic black humour of doctors and high-class restaurant is maintained both in the interior design as well as the menu itself created by an experienced chef Aris Bendiks.

Both floors of Hospitālis take the hospital-like design to the highest level – sterile white walls and ceiling, floor with shiny tiles, walls decorated with polished surgical instruments, medical literature in book-shelves... For guests with specific preferences the restaurant offers unconventional meals in a stylized operating room, gynecology division or even dental office. Numerous screens located in all rooms of the restaurant show various hospital-related episodes from famous movies.

Marita Bundule, the director of the restaurant commented: “Hospitālis breaks all generally accepted pre-assumptions about hospital as a place where various painful manipulations are performed. This is a place of surprise, where you can experience things you are usually afraid of with smile on your lips, and enjoy a tasty meal.”

In order to make the visit to Hospitālis even more interesting, go downstairs to the basement, where you will be accompanied by red-and-black coloured wall-drawings of nurses in zestful poses. In the basement the usual coolness of hospital is replaced by hazy atmosphere. Here you can also find unusual stylish bathrooms – one of them leads to the kingdom of mirrors, where you can treat the inferiority complex seeing yourself in multiple dimensions; the other is more dolorous – it is designed for patients with megalomania.

Passing through the lobby of visions decorated with baldachins with entangled butterflies you get into a madhouse with upholstered walls and ceilings, original beds and modern chairs with straightjackets as well as a door leading to nowhere... For those who still expect a bit more there is the opportunity of enjoying a meal with live white mice.

The menu of Hospitālis is in line with the subject proving that Hospitālis is not just fun, but a serious restaurant, too. For those in hurry and for unpretentious diners a nostalgic hospital lunch is offered. Surely, the meal is served in plain dishes, but as for taste it does not differ from other top-quality restaurants. If you love adventures and have strong nerves, you can find various dishes in the menu disguised under Latin names. Would you go for “Debilitas Dementio Hysterica Universalis Gravis”? Don’t worry; it is nothing more than a cheese and truffle soup.

The madhouse menu also contains an eerie warning: ‘While being served the patients’ (guests’) moving abilities can be restricted!’ The strange message becomes clear once you are served a Madhouse Soup which you are forced to sip from the spoon given by a nurse, while yourself being dressed in a straightjacket.

According to the meal you dare to order you will be given surgical instruments instead of traditional cutlery. Cocktails can be drunk from test-tubes using glass tubes instead of straws.

Hospitālis, Stabu Street 14, Riga, Latvia

Photos: Hospitālis

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