My geography has never been strong. I know the places I’ve lived and visited, but other than that, my knowledge of the world is embarrassingly limited. One thing that has helped is food. Because I’m interested in what I eat, I’m interested in where it comes from. My recent trip to Baltic is a case in point.
The Baltic states are in North-Central Europe, east of the Baltic Sea. Typically, this includes Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, who all re-established themselves as states after The Iron Curtain fell. See, I’m learning every day.
Southwark restaurant Baltic covers broader ground, serving food from other countries, such as Poland, Russia, Hungary and Georgia. With my new, extensive knowledge, I’m tempted to say it should have been called ‘Eastern Europe’. But I guess that wouldn’t be as catchy.
The restaurant itself is really quite beautiful, with plain white walls, simple gold decorations and wooden beams that cradle the large skylight. The menus are split between A la Carte, Set Lunch and Theatre. All food is traditional, ranging from unusual dishes, such as Paprykarz, to the more recognisable, like Chicken a la Kiev.
As we were only there for a quick bite, we sat in the bar that’s known for its extensive range of vodkas. From the separate menu, we shared colourful meat and seafood mixed platters, along with some traditional dumplings and fishcakes.
The dumplings were my favourite – light, fluffy and utterly moreish, some were filled with cheese and others just plain. The Shashlik and Koftas were also well cooked, and the salads combined interesting flavours and spices that made you realise why lettuce, cucumber and tomato is so damn boring.
If this review was a menu, it would be a starter, not a main course – it’s hard to judge a restaurant when you’ve tried so little of the food. What I will say is I liked what I saw and tasted, am intrigued by the main menu and hope to go back very soon.
Baltic, 74 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8AH