We have fancied The Baltic for a long time, although it is not one of these non reservation, simplistic, trendy restaurants it is still edgy and on trend. The Russian restaurant is located in Southwark a short walk from the tube. The banner in front of the door is black which is in front of the black wooden door and leads into an even darker reception that hosts a wide and exciting looking bar with homemade infused vodkas as well as the usual brand name spirits and beers.
We were led to a fortunately lighter restaurant that is accessed via a wheel chair friendly slope. The room is light and airy exaggerated by the cream walls and the glass ceiling panels. There is a striking wiry piece of art of one wall that is golden that also reflects the light. There is also an odd huge bunch of dried rose flowers. Pretty striking and although a little odd compared to the dark moody reception somehow work.
We were lead to our table on the edge of the restaurant by the kitchen. The kitchen is hid behind a wall but the flurry of waiters coming and going make it quite clear it is there although there is little noise and small from that area. Quite serene.
We were faced with a selection of vodkas infused with a number of different herbs and spices but as it was lunch time declined and made do with a glass of red. The menu is obvious from first glace that it is Russian and so hearty, meaty and a little…how do I say this politely…urm different.
Before the starters came out, hefty bread was served with salty butter and a beetroot puree; I am a lover of beetroot so of course absolutely loved this – who needs fatty butter eh? Pickles were also on the table as we sat down and this was a real treat for me. I ordered the gravadlax with dill and vodka marinated salmon with potatoes and the steak tartare with thick rustic bread. This came out quickly yet there was only two other couples in the entire restaurant – so not saying much. The steak tartare was chucky but a little fatty for my liking. The yolk in the middle was a rich yellow and was spicy, so good all in all, however the gherkins finely chopped did not do the texture any favours I have to say.
The gravealax was lightly smoked yet quite dry in true eastern European style. I prefer smoked salmon more moist but I realise this is a matter of taste. This was served with cold potatoes (again a personal preference thing) and a sauce fully of picked capers – probably my favourite bit odd the dish as it was sharp and pungent – delicious.
For main course, I admit I went for the wrong dish; ordering the tongue with smoked bacon and beans (they have since taken this off the menu but it was something similar) and it was horrific. The tongue (or similar) was fatty, tough and the flavour lingered on the tongue. The bacon was chewy and fatty making the beans float bloated in the sauce – yuk!
The others had stew with venison, pork, beef, sauerkraut and potato dumplings which looked and tasted far more appetizing however again I didn’t like the meat combination. From reading this you would think I am a picky eater who tries to avoid meat but regular readers would know this is certainly not the case. I am clearly not ready for the Eastern European cuisine and that is probably a reason that there is so few in London that are for fine dining.
For desert we ordered sorbets with a shot of vodka – now we are talking! The sorbet was sharp and sweet and the vodka gave a pungent aromatic hit to the back of the throat and nose. This was certainly a hit for me.
I have to say the service, atmosphere and bar was great and unfortunately the cuisine was just not to my taste – this is not a dig at the chef but really I do not feel most Londoners taste buds are really ready for …that (coughs.) I will not be going again but this shouldn’t let those who do like pickles, cold vegetables with hot meat and sauces and uncomfortably textured meat be put off.
As a result Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls gives this place:
Food Atmosphere Service