Food 2014 – Baltic Bar and Restaurant, London

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So after the harrowing experience that was the Crucible at the Old Vic, we figured dinner and a couple of drinks might well be necessary. With this is mind I had reserved a table at Baltic which is but a short, stunned lurch from the theatre. We’ve eaten there before and find that the food, and the cocktails, are very much to our taste.

On staggering in the door, we settled in at the bar and ordered an initial round of a beetroot martini (vodka shaken with beetroot and lime juice, soya sauce and spices) for Lynne and a Black Crush (which contains rum, vanilla liqueur and raspberries shaken with lemon and finished with Chambord and really ought to be considered one of your five a day in my opinion).

001002These came with a small container of fresh popcorn, and slipped down a treat while we attempted to decompress. They were followed by a pair of Polish Martinis (Wyborowa vodka, Krupnik Polish honey liqueur, Zubrowka bison grass wódka stirred with clear apple juice) and another small container of popcorn. We managed to leave the popcorn alone this time…

003Eventually we felt ready to eat and moved through the restaurant at the back of the building. In contrast to the bar area, this is very light though as a space it does have its problems, the worst being that because of the pillars (which I assume are structural) the tables are somewhat cramped and you do find yourself overhearing your neighbours’ conversations whether you want to or not. This is something we have encountered more than once in London, most notably at Chez Bruce, which put us off so badly we never went back. However, there is a vast difference between the prices at Chez Bruce and those at baltic, which means we tend to be rather more forgiving in their case.

Cue the arrival of a charming gaggle of waiting staff, including one with a basket of breads including rye, a caraway bread and some pumpernickel type bread. Apparently the caraway bread isn’t terribly popular. I can’t imagine why… I had some and it was lovely. The British reluctance to engage with things they don’t encounter regularly remains a source of bafflement to me and probably always will. That said, and bread served, we studied the menu. It was very easy for me to land on a choice. Ever since a business trip to Poland I’ve had a bit of a thing about zurek, a soup basically made from fermented rye flour.

006So that was my starter (and very good it was though I was relieved to not have it served in a massive hollowed out bread loaf as it was the first time I tried it in Krakow). It did contain the requisite boiled egg though, and plenty of kabanos sausage too. Lynne meanwhile, was tackling the crab starter – and they really did mean the whole crab.

004This was when the lack of space became a bit of an issue, which got steadily worse. She’s left handed, the pillar she’d said she’d be fine with was up against her left elbow, and eventually a glass of Georgian red wine got knocked over.

The staff were brilliant, appearing with clothes to mop up, and promptly moving us to a fresh table, where I volunteered to sit on the pillar side to avoid further problems. As I’m not a southpaw I didn’t suffer too much, even when the mains arrived. Lynne had salmon, but I was taking the “I’m in a Polish restaurant, I really should go for it properly!” approach and had consequently ordered goose (a whole confitted leg as it turned out), served with red cabbage, even though it wasn’t especially wintery – or even at all wintery – outside. It was delicious, the meat falling easily off the bone, and the cabbage good and just this side of sticky.

008The salmon was pretty tasty too!

007And then on to dessert. The sernik (a white chocolate and vanilla cheesecake) served with blackberry compote was too good to pass up, even though I have had it before.

009Once again it didn’t disappoint, and fortunately perhaps it also wasn’t too heavy or too sticky/sweet. And so, out of the door at the end, a little over £140 lighter in pocket – not bad as that also included the cocktails – and so into a taxi, back to the car and home to bed.