Having worked in the Southwark area for some months, I’ve passed the front of the Eastern-European Baltic restaurant and bar many times and paid it no attention at all - it looks incredibly unassuming. However, once inside there is a different story to tell, with high, bright ceilings, crisp white décor and chic interior décor, combined with the smartly attired waiting staff, there is no getting away from it, the place is chic.
I have tried a few items off of the menu but for a lunch recommendation for two or three people I would suggest the meat ‘zakuski’ which is a sharing platter filled with incredibly tempting and delicious things.
The zakuski includes both chicken and beef ‘shashlick’, or in other words marinated pieces of meat, with a similar spice mix as those familiar in Turkish and other Middle-Eastern cookery – flavourful and really lovely and tender meat. Lamb koftas also feature. I don’t generally eat lamb as I’m not a fan of it, however I have been with two separate groups and had the zakuski and both sets have told me these koftas are excellent.
A little salad and three bright dips also go alongside this with the final part – the most moreish little fried potato dumplings. Not dissimilar to gnocchi, these little lovelies are soft and fluffy with a salty taste in the inside with a slight crunch on the outside where they’ve been fried - they go particularly well with the sour cream based dip.
This is a great platter and with a bottle of crisp white wine, this makes for a very satisfying end of the working week lunch.
If, like myself, you are greedy, which I suspect if you are reading this you may well be, then a dish to top this up would be some of the spectacularly good ‘pierogi’ – a Polish dumpling filled with cheese, potato and spring onion. I’ll be honest and say I haven’t tried these dumplings elsewhere before so have no yardstick to compare them to, however believe me they are to die for. Again a little crisp on the outside but filled with a soft, unctuous cheesy centre – these are certainly naughty, but very, very nice.
The platter costs £8.50 per person and one for 2 is enough for three people if you have the dumplings too. Recently when I visited, my friend and I selected the Porter Mill Station, 2012 Chenin Blanc Swartland and this worked well for us. We had change from £45 and went back to our Friday afternoon feeling full, content and ready for the weekend.
I’m not too familiar with Eastern European cooking so if any readers have any recommendations in London then please swing them my way as I am very keen to try more of those dumplings.