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26th December, 2014

Flamboyant launch party at Baltic Cellar – Manchester’s new Eastern European restaurant

http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/whats-on/food-drink-news/pictures-flamboyant-launch-party-baltic-8114155

New Eastern European restaurant Baltic Cellar provided fire-dancers, furry-hat waiters and plenty of vodka for its quirky launch

It was a flamboyant launch party with fire-dancers, furry hats and plenty of vodka shots at Manchester’s new Eastern European restaurant, Baltic Cellar.

The quirky independent eaterie on Lloyd Street is serving up a host of traditional cuisine from Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Russia and guests invited to the launch got to taste huge platters of the speciality dishes on Thursday night.

It included traditional Borsch, Goulash, Bigos, Uha (fish soup) and meats cooked on a Shashlik charcoal grill.

Guests, including BBC Breakfast sports presenter Mike Bushell, were getting into the Baltic spirt by donning traditional Russian Ushanka fur hats while learning about “traditional Russian drinking rules” which apparently involve drinking shots of vodka at every possible interval.

Owner and chef Elena Bogda, originally from Latvia, and her husband Alex, who is half-Russian and half-Nigerian have launched the venue, after previously running the Jel Bar in Bolton.

Elena said: “We wanted to bring the true taste of the Baltics to Manchester with homemade, fresh ingredients, handpicked forest mushrooms, and the passion for hearty food made with love. This is what I learned from my grandmother since I was 15 years old, cooking in Latvia. Food is love and I want to share my own unique recipes, inspired by my motherland as well as our Baltic neighbours Lithuania, Estonia, Poland and Russia. We hope Manchester will come to our warm house.”

Elena also designed the interiors of the Baltic Cellar, painstakingly crafting every piece of wood seen in the bar as well as making the table decorations by hand.

The venue includes a 102-cover restaurant with red leather booths, as well as a dance floor area and speciality vodka bar.

At the launch bash guests were entertained by an acrobatic dancer dressed in a leopard-print suit, as well as a fire-dancer to usher everyone inside to the basement venue.

 

26th December, 2014

Baltic Cellar

Recently I received an invitation to attend the launch party of a new Eastern European restaurant in Manchester city centre. It promised an evening of fire, home cooked food and vodka. How could I say no?

As we arrived at The Baltic Cellar on Lloyd Street, we were met with the sight of Beth Sykes, a fire dancer, twirling flaming baskets in the middle of the road. It was quite mesmerising and promised a great evening ahead.

As the name suggests the restaurant is below street level and as we descended the wooden staircase we found ourselves in a large but cosy low ceilinged room, bedecked in wood. The waiting staff were buzzing round dispensing all manner of finger food, Latvian sparkling wine and a warm Baltic welcome. There were traditional smoked meats, cheeses, red caviar tartlets and smoked salmon éclairs. As we enjoyed our Hors d’oeuvres and took in our surroundings the fire dancer, Beth Sykes, reappeared dressed in a leopard print leotard and treated us to an incredible display of contortion-ism.

Still gob smacked we were asked to take our seats. Frankie and I found ourselves seated with a fantastic couple who moved to Britain from Latvia and turned out to live five minutes from us. In Russia it is traditional to drink a shot of vodka with each course of a celebration meal, so our hosts had thoughtfully provided lots of pre-filled shot glasses on our table. It was a jewel coloured cranberry vodka that had a lovely sweet, fruity tang to it. They had also provided us with a bottle of Polish Klosowka vodka, which was soon looking quite depleted thanks to the generous pouring and traditional toasts of our dinner companions. The adjoining table was occupied by a team from BBC Sport who certainly kept us entertained.

The first course was Zakuski. Think tapas style plates of meats, sausages, cheeses and salted herring served with a delightfully creamy Russian salad. The mains were taster portions of all the restaurant’s traditional dishes, which was a fantastic way to sample what the Baltic Cellar is offering. There were so many but my highlights were the hearty, paprika spiced Beef Goulash and the creamy, rich Pork Stroganoff, But then again the Bigos, a traditional Polish stew of ribs, smoked sausage, cabbage and plums was a completely new taste sensation and the Chicken Shashlik was a triumph of marinated and charcoal grilled poultry perfection. In fact. I can honestly say there wasn’t one dish that caused my taste buds to revolt.

At the end of this course we were full to the gunwales but then the puds arrived and frankly it would have been rude not to. There was Honey Cake, Cheesecake, Chocolate Cake and Napoléon Cake. To a girl fond of her cake this was heaven to me. All were homemade and delicious.

It is worth noting that the couple who own The Baltic Cellar, Alex and Elena Bogda, hail from Russia and Latvia respectively and Elena runs the kitchen. She cooks everything from fresh to her Grandmother’s recipes and sources a lot of her ingredients from the Baltics in order to keep the menu as authentic as possible.

By the time we wobbled out we had been well fed, well watered and very well looked after. If you fancy a different dining experience then I cannot recommend The Baltic Cellar enough. It is definitely on my list of favourite Manchester restaurants.

26th December, 2014

Miss Pond in Manchester samples Russian food at Baltic Cellar grill bar.

http://misspond.com/manchester/227-baltic-cellar-restaurant-launch/

Having only ever experienced Eastern European cooking at a Polish friend’s birthday party (quite a while ago) I was intrigued when I got a last minute invite to the Baltic Cellar launch. Nestled between Albert Square and the Town Hall, Baltic Cellar’s cosy set up was definitely very inviting on quite a chilly Manchester evening.

When we arrived Mr W, Charlie, , Sarah, Simon and I were greeted with a plentiful supply of authentic nibbles and bubbles. We were then treated to an interestingly bendy performance from contortionist . After a few minutes of gawping at Beth’s flexibility (why aren’t my yoga classes making me that bendy yet?!) we were seated and greeted with a bottle of Polish Klosowka vodka uh oh! The Baltic Cellar fun then began…

Russian drinking rules explained.

First vodka.

Second vodka.

Two shots of vodka administed, we then started with herring fillets and platters of smoked sausages, cured ham and slices of salo on rye bread (which Mr W had to explain to me was effectively lardo… Just as I ate a chunk thinking it was cheese!) Aside from the mistaken identity incident the platter was fantastic and I even enjoyed the herring (usually too fishy for me).

More vodka.

Then our main courses arrived, which were samples of a lot of what is on the Baltic Cellar menu. I thought this was a brilliant way to show us what is on offer. Intensely herby grilled salmon, soft and buttery mashed potato and not forgetting beef goulash and pork stroganoff, which were delicious and tender.

More vodka. This time served from a kalashnikov by a Russian. Yes.

Then dessert. A mighty platter of cakes arrived, a stodgy chocolate cake (Mr W enjoyed), a deliciously creamy cheesecake (more my kinda thing), the many layered Napolyeon tort and some home made biscuits to finish. Needless to say the plate did not look like this at the end.

More vodka. This time from a birdhouse. This one goes down best, like water. If only we could have more, but this stuff’s special. It’s the end at this point, time to go home and get ready for the morning after the night before, which may I add was brutal, but worth it.

I just want to say a huge thank you to Baltic Cellar for a wonderful evening, and whilst this isn’t a review Mr W and I will be back to sample more of what is on offer. Also thank you to Team Wodka for the best evening I’d had in a long time.

Na Zdorovie!

26th December, 2014

New restaurant opening Manchester

Manchester has so many restaurants with new names popping up all the time. I reckon you could eat out every night for a good few years without visiting the same restaurant twice in this city. The new names have been regular but fairly samey with plenty of burger bars, Italians and pop ups for you to try. Now it’s time for something different – let me introduce you to Baltic Cellar.

Baltic Cellar is a combination of Baltic, Polish and Russian cuisine located on Lloyd Street. Located downstairs you will find a wide open space which is surprisingly well lit considering its basement location. Being Eastern European themed there is also a vodka theme with a huge variety of brands to try from.

Housed in this pretty wooden box was the best (of many…) vodkas that we tried on the opening night. Smooth and so easy to drink, this was the perfect sipping vodka.

As if this pretty vodka and standard vodka wasn’t enough, we were also served vodka from a Kalashnikov shaped bottle. The girls you can see in the Russian hats were ‘in charge’ of serving vodka to the table. You can imagine how that went down.

We tried the salted herring and Russian salad to start. Both excellent and I particularly liked the herring which had a lovely soft texture. The Russian salad was also good with crunchy vegetables bound in a light dressing. I’d have liked it to be slightly creamier.

Mains included lots of pork and chicken in mushroom based sauces. I am not a fan so steered clear although the rest of the table gobbled these down. The shashlik was delicious with that lovely chargrilled taste to the outside with the meat being lovely and juicy. I particularly liked the salmon served with creamy mashed potatoes. Also chargrilled the salmon was meaty and not at all dry whilst the mash was creamy and smooth.

The sharing platter of desserts allowed us to try a bite of different ones on offer from the menu. The chocolate cake was a bit too sweet for me and I’ve had liked more of a ‘chocolatey’ taste to the sponge which was a little bland. The napoleon cake 100% made up for it though. Layers of thin pastry with cream similar to a mille-feuille was just gorgeous and something I will definitely order when I return!

On the whole the menu is fairly healthy with lots of soups, salads and grilled meats to choose from. This makes it much easier for someone trying to follow a clean diet to come here so perfect for me, vodka is clean right?!

I was invited to the launch of this event as a guest and wasn’t asked to pay for the food or drink. Thanks to Baltic Cellar for some of the images used above.

26th December, 2014

Baltic Cellar launch party reviewed by the Lady Sybil

http://ginfuelledbluestocking.co.uk/restaurant-opening-baltic-cellar/

Manchester isn’t exactly over run with Russian or even Eastern Block restaurants. Working as I do with Russians, Ukrainians, Latvians and Poles, means that those that the restaurants we do have are subject to strong criticism.

So when Baltic Cellar invited me to their opening, I was curious – their food is a mix of Latvian, Polish, Lithuanian, Estonian, and Russian. Would this meet with colleagues’ approval?

I needed to investigate.

We arrived to glasses of fizz and platters of nibbles circulating  – olives wrapped in bacon, little hunks of cured pork sausage, caviar, rye bread, two kinds of delicious cheese (one Latvian, one Lithuanian) and delicious puffed balls of choux pastry filled with smoked salmon and cream cheese.

The venue is the baby of Alex and Elena Bogda – Elena’s Latvian roots and the influence of her grandmother, who taught her to cook are evident in the menu and the treats we tried at the opening. Alex’s own Russian/Nigerian heritage have also made impressions on the menu.

After a beautiful performance of flexibility from contortionist , we were ushered to our seats, where a bottle of Polish Klosowka vodka sat on the table. I could get used to this Baltic hospitality.

We were drinking to Russian rules – and those of us aware of just how often this would mean that the glass was raised to our lips, ensured we didn’t drink anything else from now on. I’ve already learned that lesson the hard way.

Each table had a leader, identified by their headgear (though we had two leaders, because we like to be different).

Two shots down and the zakuski (Russian tapas) started to arrive.

Classic Russian salad, rich herring fillets and platters of smoked sausage, cured ham and thick slices of salo (pork fat, cured in a similar manner to lardo) sitting atop rough rye bread.

Time for another shot and another round of food.

Beef goulash and pork stroganoff, tender chicken with wild mushrooms and chicken in a creamy sauce with pine nuts vied for our attention, , and along with my personal favourite of the night, bigos – slowly stewed sausages and sauerkraut, pork ribs, mushrooms and cabbage form a salty, smoky dish.

More vodka? Don’t mind if we do.

The chicken shashlik, served with spicy rice, made it’s way around the tables, along with a different vodka, served from a Kalashnikov shaped bottle by a handsome chap in a ushanka.

It’s hard not to love somewhere that is confident enough to not take itself seriously.

Still we hadn’t finished.

There was dessert –  a vast platter of cakes from creamy cheesecake, the many layered Napolean cake (kremowka or napolyeon tort), crisp biscuits and a thick heavy chocolate cake.

We were all feeling a little wobbly, but we had enough room for one more sip of vodka. This time the Debowa vodka which has a hint of oak (and a sliver of oak in each bottle) served from a birdhouse. This Polish rye vodka is creamy, toasty with a hint of vanilla from the wood. Delicious and the perfect note on which to end our visit.

Whilst this isn’t a review, I know that everyone on our table had a fantastic time and we all want to visit again. I’ll admit I’m no expert, but my experiences of Baltic food suggest that this is the most authentic I’ve come across (barring home made) and I’m intrigued to know what my work colleagues think.

So I’ll see you in there for a vodka or two?

ll the food and drink consumed by all guests at the launch was provided by the host venue.

With thanks to Emma for the extra image and the company of her and Mr W on the night, along with Sarah, Simon and Keeley.

 

 

26th December, 2014

Baltic Cellar Eastern European restaurant in Manchester, delivers on what it promises! Flames, grill, vodka on-tap and a mind-bending surprise…

Baltic Cellar, Manchester
December 4, 2014 sophiesscran

When I was lucky enough to be cordially invited to the exclusive launch party of Baltic Cellar, Lloyd Street, Manchester – I felt honoured. I only started my food blog in August this year, and the response I have received from the foodie world so far has been fantastic. So as you can imagine, I was looking forward to this one. And, I have MDOG_MANCHESTER to thank – so thanks dude 😉

The invitation promised flames, grills, vodka on-tap and a mind-bending surprise… How could I possibly refuse?! Well, I couldn’t of course, and I was so eager that Bradley and I were the first ones there and had to be told on arrival (red carpet and all) by the Tuxedo-clad bouncers to come back in 5-10 minutes when the hostess had arrived! I was excited, to say the least. Lesson learnt – next time ‘fashionably late’ is perhaps the cooler option.

It is safe to say – Baltic Cellar delivered on all that was promised, and then some. These guys truly know how to eat, drink and entertain you. Basically, they know how to party – and I am now told they are taking bookings for Christmas – so if you’re looking for something with a bit of a twist, I would highly recommend this place.

Set just down the road from Albert Square (the Christmas-capital of Manchester), Baltic Cellar is exactly that – the entrance is on the street, with windows and steps looking down towards their main seating area and large bar. To entertain us in the queue was the amazing performer Beth Sykes (pictured above), who put on a flawless fire show, complete with actual flame swallowing. Very impressive.

Once inside, we were greeted with ‘Champagne’ and canapes – a simple yet very effective collection of Latvian and Lithuanian cheeses, cooked meats (Polish smoked sausages, smoked hams), olives and grapes. All were fabulous, very morish – but my favourite had to be the perfectly hand-crafted smoked salmon and creamed cheese eclairs…  a super light and fluffy filling encased in a pretty little choux pastry parcel. So, so good, I think I ate about 15…

Then was time for a short entertainment interval – the wonderful Beth Sykes again, but this time a change of costume and style completely. It turns out Beth is an incredible, mesmerising and extremely talented contortionist. A true artist, ‘mind-bending’ indeed, I couldn’t take my eyes off her – neither could Bradley… Ahem.. OK, now back to the food 😉
Beth Sykes, contortionist
Beth Sykes, contortionist

Next, we were to be seated for dinner: a traditional Russian ‘Zakuski’ (Russia’s answer to Tapas) whereby you sit together, drink vodka and eat a traditional selection of salted herring, Russian salad (like a chunky coleslaw), pickled and marinated cucumber and Salo (cured fat, I wasn’t too keen on this, but I did give it a go!) As we were seated, the Russian drinking rules were explained to us, something along the lines of: the person who wears the Russian hat must pour the drinks. They must always pour one for themselves when pouring for others. They must hold the bottle by the neck… Thank fully, being the designated driver, I managed to stay sober and avoid the hangover… This also meant I remember all of what happened next!

Zakuski – Meat Selection

On to the Mains… Well, as you can imagine, we were all rather full by now. The main feast however was yet to begin – as now followed a beautifully presented small-servings platter of homemade savoury delights:

Beef Goulash, a tender and slow-cooked warming stew with paprika, carrots and onions.
Chicken & Mushrooms, served with hand-picked forest mushrooms in a sharp creamy sauce.
Bigos, a traditional Polish dish which stews the rich flavours of sauerkraut, smoked sausage, smoked ribs, cabbage, onions, plums and wild mushrooms – so incredibly tasty.

Main Course – 6 dish Selection
Main Course – 6 dish Selection

Chicken Cedar, chicken in a light creamy sauce topped with cedar nuts.
Vegetable Ragu of braised cauliflower, carrots, peas, potatoes and tomatoes.
Pork Stroganoff, a traditional 19th century Russian dish served with lean pork strips and a rich, tasty sauce.
Grilled Meats – Chicken or Salmon Shashlik,  we tried the salmon only, which was cooked on an authentic Baltic charcoal grill. Marinated and ‘slow grilled,’ it tasted incredible. This  was my favourite dish of the evening, as the fish was mouth wateringly succulent and cooked to perfection.

Shashlik Grilled Salmon, served with creamy seasoned mash
Shashlik Grilled Salmon, served with creamy seasoned mash

The the side-dishes were also excellently seasoned; creamy mashed potatoes, spicy rice and skinny, crispy fries. Yum.

Then, this happened…
Dessert Tasting Platter

Possibly THE most decedent, varied, sweet and indulgent (and biggest!) dessert selection I have ever seen in a restaurant (not counting my nan’s pudding spread a family Christmas buffet…) Although we were full to the brim, there was no way we could refuse trying these little beauties – all homemade: Cheese Cake, Honey Cake, Chocolate Cake, Napoleon Cake (Polish variation called Kremowka). Just divine. The berries helped cut through the sweetness with a little sharpness and bite – the perfect end to a true Baltic Feast.

All in all, the dishes were hearty, authentic, homemade and very morish. The party was swinging, the staff extremely attentive and knowledgeable about each dish and the vodka (so I am told), was excellent quality. I will leave you with a few images which capture some other highlights of what was altogether an excellent evening. Thank you.

My best friend for the night – Birch Sap water (surprisingly hydrating and tasty!)

If you would like to make a reservation at Baltic Cellar, please contact Inesa on 0161 971 6047 or click on balticcellar.com!

See review on Sophie’s Scran: http://sophiesscran.com/2014/12/04/baltic-cellar-manchester/

26th December, 2014

26th December, 2014

Mel tries Baltic Cellar!

It’s a well known fact that you are never more than 10 feet away from a burger in Manchester. Whether you’re going for the ‘dirty style’ or the Golden Arches equivalent there is no getting away from the Americana icon…or is there?

Cue an invitation from the nice folk at Baltic Cellar which is hidden two minutes from the Christmas Markets on Lloyd Street. I had seen their photographs and general build-up online and was intrigued by their Eastern European dishes and cosy downstairs interior made up of exposed brick and wooden ceiling. A sense of mystery.

The initial impression I got when I arrived was how busy it was for lunchtime; full in fact. Booths, tables and the bar were packed full of a wide spectrum of people ranging from smart business types to foreign exchange students. I felt like I’d left a very wet Manchester and I’d been transported to Riga sipping on glowing Russian cranberry vodka.

That Klukovka was wonderful; only 20% in alcoholic volume and an ideal festive aperitif to enjoy while perusing the vast menu.

The menu is made up of exciting sounding dishes native to the Baltic States ranging from traditional Latvian dumplings to Lithuanian pastries. I hadn’t heard of the majority so ended up ordering a lot of them between us all; EIGHT in fact which is not what you need to do if you’re after a quick lunch. You could instead pick two and pay just £10.95 or three for £14.55.

Sharing it all I managed to try everything which all tasted great. The starters of an Olivier salad and Borsch started the meal off to a flying start. Imagine having a potato salad enhanced with tender boiled beef and gherkins and you have Olivier salad. The beetroot soup was equally fine. A vibrant and deep red colour full of vegetables and laced with tender bite sized pieces of slow cooked pork. With wide weather outside, this comfort food was perfect.

You could tell that the whole meal was cooked by somebody who enjoyed cooking wholesome dishes with traditional methods and flavours. Let’s touch on the flavour, which had a running theme of dill, gherkins and sour cream throughout the menu. Carefully balanced, these strong ingredients allowed each of the dishes to sing and complimented each other with the selected meats.

The service was knowledgeable and we came to understand the origin of many of the dishes (even learnt a little Russian!). It was really nice to eat something new and alternative to many of the usual cuisines available in the city.

To make life easier, I have listed the mains below with some comments;

  • Golubtsy: well seasoned chicken mince wrapped in steamed cabbage leaves which had a similar consistency to al dente lasagne sheets. Topped with a creamy, cheese sauce with shredded carrot; it was a delightful dish and a great introduction to Baltic dining.
  • Siberian Dumplings: these mini dumplings which contained a mixture of pork and beef mince reminded me of Chinese steamed wontons in appearance and flavour. Traditionally eaten in Russia with sour cream, I thought they were magnificent on their own without the need of the cream.
  • Beef Stroganoff: this creamy, slow cooked beef dish had a lovely peppery finish and went well with the accompanied herb topped fries.
  • Pikkpoiss: doesn’t that sound great? The meatloaf was stuffed with peppers and then topped with shredded egg – WOW. It tasted as good as it sounded and had bags of flavour. I want more!
  • Keshanele: this typical Lithuanian dish consisted of chicken stuffed with forest mushrooms and cheese (both inside and out). The earthy mushroom was outstanding with the cheese complimented it well.
  • Chicken Shashlik: chargrilled thighs served with spicy rice and two styled sauces (ketchup and sour cream/dill). Meat was cooked extremely well and had a great BBQ flavour. I would definitely order this again, perhaps with their grilled sausages which looked good going past.The only thing I didn’t order was dessert. Slightly disappointed that I ate so much, as their Honey Cake looked great on neighbouring tables!

    If, like me, you haven’t tried much of Estonia, Russia, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania’s cuisine, Baltic Cellar give you the chance to delve into them all without having to leave Manchester. I think you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else locally who can do that along with lovely service, well priced drinks and an all round brilliant experience without costing an arm and a leg.

    This entire lunch was fantastic, and not a brioche bun in sight.

    Published on 13/11/2014

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