Before our trip to Budapest we arranged to meet the friends we were going with for lunch, to plan what to see and do. It therefore seemed appropriate to try and find a Hungarian restaurant. Unfortunately, the only one Google came up with was in New Cross which wasn’t convenient for any of us. Instead we opted for “Baltic Restaurant and Bar”:https://www.balticrestaurant.co.uk/ near London’s Southwark and Waterloo stations as its website promised “a culinary tour of the Baltics, Poland, Russia and Hungary in a minimalist converted coach builders’ works”.
We met for pre-lunch drinks in the long bar at the front of the restaurant, before moving through to a huge conservatory at the rear, which was light, bright and airy with tables formally laid with white linen napery.
Our waiter, who we later established was Polish, suggested starting with a vodka. The restaurant is noted for its 60 varieties of vodka served straight from the deep freeze in frozen glasses. However, we opted for one of their flavoured vodkas, made using fresh fruit and spices and left to mature in large flagons. We all chose a different one: ginger, horseradish and plum with me opting for chili and pepper. The small glasses were arranged on the tray in order of our seating, which was helpful as two were colourless. Mine was a tea colour with six peppercorns in the bottom of the glass and, judging by the look on the faces of the others, mine was definitely the strongest and fieriest.
As well as an a la carte menu there’s a variety of set menus. We chose from the Saturday lunch menu: two courses for £21 or three for £25 including a bloody Mary or Bellini. We all went for the bloody Mary, and when I asked the waiter if it was spicy, he said that after the chili and pepper vodka shot, it would taste like a milkshake.
To start, three of us opted for the beetroot with goats cheese and walnuts, with one of the group having chicken. It was slightly disappointing to see that of the three starters offered, two contained walnuts and as my God daughter has just developed a nut intolerance, her options were limited. She decided to have a pudding instead (what turned out to be a very generous serving of chocolate mousse with kirsch- soaked cherries).
Main courses chosen were roasted duck leg with spiced red cabbage, and bozbash, a lamb stew with okra, tomato and pomegranate. This came to the table in a heavy casserole and was ladled out into warm soup bowls. I went vegetarian with a spiced potato and lentil cake which was absolutely delicious.
Service was excellent and after we paid the bill, we retired to the bar to get out the books and maps of Budapest and decide on our list of must do’s.
This is definitely a return to place, and would be ideal for a pre-theatre visit before going to the Old Vic.