Tuesday 24 February 2009

Baltic Restaurant, Blackfriars Road, central London

Hidden behind wooden folding doors, the Baltic is a cavernous, modern Polish restaurant with clinical white decor broken up by the occasional piece of modern art or a bare brick wall. If you book, you can eat at a table with a smart white tablecloth in the very large, but often full, room at the back. Otherwise, you may have to opt for one of the more informal tables near the funky bar with its back lit panel of amber stones. Either way, you will probably be served by a glamorous waitress in a little black dress. Among the starters, you can share some warm blinis (£11) with a selection of ultra-fresh fillings, such as sour cream, smoked salmon and marinated herring. To follow, the slow-cooked pork neck and dumplings, served in a pot with a lid, makes for a tender and delicious stew. But there are plenty of other appetizing and filling mains (around £16 apiece), typically offering a twist on traditional east European ingredients, such as beef goulash or golonka pork shank. To get a dose of vitamins, you will need one of the nicely-prepared, but small, side orders of vegetables (£3 a dish). You can drink one of the many unusual vodkas on offer (from £3.25 a shot) or bottles of Pilsner Urquell, which is strong, flavoursome and pricey at £3.50 for a small bottle. Although a tad expensive, the Baltic has good food and a good vibe. 7/10