…but much more!
’Tis a gem (or should I say amber!) of a restaurant, specialising in food from almost all of Eastern Europe.
One enters through a pair of striking wooden, metal- grilled doors to find the much celebrated Amber Bar. It was impressive, not for the amber, although there in quantity, but for its display of huge demijohns of vodka, enough to warm the heart of any connaisseur or enthusiastic hobbyist!
We lingered over our iced vodka, me with the delicious honey Krupnik and he with almond Wyborowa. Do try one of these incredible spirits, even if vodka isn’t your usual tipple. I must say that the Krupnick burst with a pure alcohol opening punch but mellowed to a sweet, deceptively soothing aftertaste whilst the Wyborowa was like a very adult marzipan. This could become a habit!
The bar opens into a truly stunning, vaulted main restaurant that has managed to reflect both minimalism and warmth. White walls, subtly lit niches and an immense amber chandelier that any self-respecting jeweller would give somebody’s right arm for! Light floods in from rooftop windows giving a bright and welcoming atmosphere for lunchtime or summer evening diners.
By the time we reached our seats we had become enchanted by the young, enthusiastic, professional staff. The service was attentive but unobtrusive, a rare find these days. Our guide was able to advise us on both food and wine with both charm and humour.
I chose for a starter, Leniwe – cheese and potato dumplings with bacon and mushroom. The short lengths of dumpling were light and exquisitely seasoned by the bacon and the portion wasn’t skimpy either! My companion ate Marinated Herring with potato, pea and apple salad. Attractively presented, this was both fresh-tasting and delicious.
Leczo-spiced beef stew for my main course arrived in its cast iron, lidded casserole with a side dish of mash. This was Eastern European cooking at its traditional best. It was aromatic and comforting. A winner on a cold winter afternoon.
Rabbit braised in cider was my friend’s choice. I can understand why rabbit has a bad rap. It’s often dry and stringy and like the worst chicken you ever had. Well this wasn’t. It was flavourful and succulent and a must for anyone who hasn’t had the chance to try its delicate taste and texture.
Desert was a lovely creamy Sour Cherry Crème Brulee, and a Pistachio Ice-cream with dark chocolate sauce. These were just two from the selection – there was also a tempting cheese board with oatcakes from Neal’s Yard but you would need to have the appetite of a Welsh rugby player to make it that far!
It’s simply Baltic – not “The” Baltic. But it’s more than that. It’s a restaurant boasting a menu of dishes from the Baltic States to the Adriatic. It’s good value for such a high-end eatery. Have a meal there and you’ll be glad you did!
Restaurant review: Baltic, 74 Blackfriars Road, London, SE1 8HA. Phone 020 7928 1111
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018