Dada – The Restaurant
In Riga there is a restaurant called “Dada” that is based on the surrealist art movement in the early part of the 1900s. Rene Magritte is my favorite Dada-esque artist. He’s the one who made famous the painting of a guy with an apple over his face and the painting of a pipe with the caption “This is not a pipe.” It is, in fact, a representation of a pipe. Dada is basically a movement to create chaos out of order and to do not just the opposite of the expected, but the totally unexpected. So anyway, that’s the backstory of the Dada movement in less than a nutshell. If Steven Hawking can put the Universe in there, I can at least fit the Dada movement in.
The restaurant is an odd duck. The waitresses all create their own uniforms, though this usually means a restaurant t-shirt with a sock taped to it – very un-Dada. When you order food, you order the sauce you want and then you go pick what ingredients you want to put in it. That’s a kind of a cool concept. But look out, they arrange the items from least to most expensive, hoping you’ll fill your bowl up before you cost them too much money. But at about $15 per meal, they can afford it.
So I went to the restaurant and sat down. I was brought a menu and had to ask how to order – nobody had yet explained the above paragraph to me. I ordered the tomato basil and a beer I’d never heard of. When the beer arrived I noticed that I’d accidentally asked for an alcohol-free beer. How very Dada of me. The beer was terrible but the concept was good. I was already spending too much money for the meal and the place wasn’t quite Dada enough for me so I decided to turn it into an experience rather than a dinner.
Then I took my ordering tray and went to get some food. But in typical Dada fashion, I went off the terrace and around the building to go inside. It was a good laugh for me, but I think the fancy pants patrons must have thought I was nuts. I decided to start at the end of the food line – the Dada thing to do – and didn’t have enough room for some of the cheaper stuff. Oh well.
I decided it would be a good idea for me to take notes about the experience so I wouldn’t leave anything out. I wrote in black ink on a black napkin. Very Dada. But now I can’t read it.
The bill arrived in a baby’s shoe. I paid with my largest note, but that was only a 20L (the bill was 8L or about $17 US). But they taught me a lesson about being so Dada. They took 20 or so minutes to come back with my change. When leaving I walked off the platform on the side. The regular entrance to the terrace was mostly blocked anyway so it was kind of necessary. But it was also very Dada.