Baltic – Polish restaurant Blackfriars Road

When Silvena Rowe first started appearing on Saturday Kitchen a few years ago, I couldn’t help but wonder who this wacky Bulgarian woman was and admire her ballsy ways – she’s one of few people who can put James Martin off his self-assured stride. At the time she was executive chef of Baltic and that’s what first drew me to this restaurant.

Fast forward several years to July 2014 and I eventually made it here to spend the evening dining with a friend, even though Ms. Rowe is long gone (her career having gone from strength to strength).

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Minimalist interior at Baltic

Situated in a former 18th century brick house on Blackfriars Road (originally Great Surrey Street 1768 – 1829) replete with high ceilings, exposed beams and a great sense of space, Baltic’s interior is minimalist to the extent of being somewhat characterless.

Visiting on a Thursday evening, several post-work groups were in, and I can imagine it being a good place for parties – especially trying out the vodka list.

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Red snapper in walnut and pomegranate ‘satsivi’ sauce + fennel salad

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Herring salad starter

For starters I had red snapper @ £7.50 – generous chunks of meaty fish that were overly dry but the walnut and pomegranate ‘satsivi’ sauce (spicy but not hot) more than compensated for that, served with a cleansing fennel and lemon salad. H had marinated herring salad with potato, peas and sour cream @ £7.00.

When reading the menu, I’d homed straight in on sea bream for main course. But at the point of ordering I instead asked the waitress what she would eat off this menu.

She recommended seared calves liver (not really my thing) and rabbit in cider @ £16.50. So I decided at the last minute to be adventurous and switched to rabbit, typical Polish cuisine. And was so glad I did.

Served with ‘nalesniki’ noodles, bacon, peas and carrots it was quite an odd sounding dish to read. But the tender, white meat – similar to chicken – served in a gorgeous cider gravy with mixed vegetables and noodles was most enjoyable to eat.

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Leg of rabbit – cooked in cider with bacon, peas, carrots + noodles

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Seared marinated salmon

H had seared marinated salmon with sweet pickled beetroot and pomegranate salad @ £16.50 (a la carte menu price).

Not that we were still hungry after two courses and two bottles of Chilean Sauvignon dry white wine @ £22.00 a bottle but we squeezed in dessert (we were dining leisurely). H had pulkownik homemade strawberry sorbet with a shot of frozen vodka @ £7.00.

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Pulkownik – sorbet + vodka

I had Hungarian chocolate torta with vanilla ice cream @ £6.00 – an unexpectedly large slice of chocolate cake which – fortunately – was a bit dry (ie. it wasn’t too rich and sickly too eat this great quantity!) and partnered perfectly with the very vanilla ice cream (not sure if it was homemade but it certainly didn’t taste mass produced?).

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Hungarian chocolate torta + vanilla ice cream

A 50% discount off the a la carte menu (with a Gourmet Society card) made this an excellent value meal. And so we indulged in a digestif – I had a Glenmorangie single malt whisky @ £6.50, and H had a tokaji aszu Hungarian dessert wine @ £7.90.

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Bill for two £105.70 includes 12.5% service charge + Gourmet Society discount

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Polish, Eastern European, vodka bar
~ Address: 74 Blackfriars Rd, London
~ Postcode: SE1 8AH
~ Tel: 020 7928 1111
~ Nearest station: Southwark
~ Website + menus: Baltic website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Baltic food
~ facebook page: Baltic on fb
~ Location: Baltic restaurant map

More SE1 dining:
~ Canteen – proper British grub
~ Zen China – great riverside views

Baltic on Urbanspoon


L’Autre – Polish-Mexican in a City village

We had a work’s pub quiz on Thursday evening at Shepherd’s Tavern, a traditional pub with friendly bar staff, in Shepherd Market, Mayfair.

Shepherd Market is like a village square with a local community feel, even though it’s situated in central London. A short walk from Green Park and Piccadilly, you turn into White Horse Street and somehow leave the city behind.

Built on the site that once held the ‘May Fair’ (a 15 day fête banned in 1708 for the disorder and unruly crowd it brought) Shepherd Market was designed by Edward Shepherd – with paved streets, theatre and duck-pond – to attract a less rowdy class of people. There’s more about the history, and some literature that this area’s featured in, here.

Shepherd’s Tavern serves good sharing platters (sausages and mustard, fish wedges and chips) at around £13 a platter. Being slightly set back from the pubs on the main market place, it’s likely to be less crowded too.

L’Autre – restaurant of the week

It’s hard to find any pubs or restaurants here that aren’t appealing. There’s a branch of Sofra (top quality Turkish mezes and fish dishes, etc) and several cosy cafes but on this visit to the market, a ‘Polish-Mexican Bistro’ caught my attention.

Its window display of wine bottles and fairy lights invited me into the warmth from the dark winter night, along with a specials menu offering the likes of roast wild boar and Mexican lamb shank. While I declined to enter Mayfair’s oldest wine lodge on this occasion I intend to visit L’Autre very soon, and consider it worthy of the Lardbutty ‘restaurant of the week’ title for combining two such different cuisines (Polish and Mexican) and being so intriguing…

Restaurant info:
~ Type: Polish-Mexican
~ Postcode: W1
~ Nearest station: Green Park
~ Website: n/a
~ Location: L’Autre map

~ Food and drink at Shepherd Market

~ Shepherd Market history

~ Shepherd’s Tavern

~ Sofra Mayfair