“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
In recent weeks I have been fortunate enough to spend some time in and around the Baltic Creative Triangle. I know that sounds like some sort of cold weather pubic topiary reference but it is actually an oft neglected area of Liverpool in, and around, Jamaica Street. It is home to many small, creative start-up businesses as well as the idiosyncratic Camp and Furnace (oh and a warehouse of Mr Whippy ice cream vans). On both occasions I was with my sons, Fidget and Shy, and friends, Lady Furness, Vincenzo and their two offspring, Crouchy and The Raven.
On the first occasion we had braved the train journey to Brunswick and, ambling back towards the city centre for a museum-fest, sought a quick breakfast treat and so, upon prior recommendation, popped to the Baltic Bakehouse. Not an easy place to find at first, down a side street, we arrived and entered a long, narrow dining room. All of the tables (about 4 or 5) were taken, as were the window bar seats. A positive sign for any eatery but not what you want to see with a hungry party of 8! Nevertheless we joined the queue behind two others, hoping a space would free up.
The smell of freshly baked provender was lovely, whetting the appetite. Sadly we had plenty of time to sniff away as service was painfully slow. With 3 staff on: one baking, one well I am not sure what he was doing, and a flustered but polite woman serving and getting drinks and doing everthing else, it did seem under staffed. Maybe we just caught things on an unexpectedly busy day? Eventually we were served: an order of sausage and bacon butty, bacon butty, a bread-based sausage roll and toast along with coffee, water and juices (I will leave the wider Furness family order as details are not sharp in my memory).
“It was akin to placing a toilet duck in the toilet from Trainspotting”
Order placed, we noticed steps by the till leading up to a small mezzanine level with 2 couches. The decor vibe of the whole place is ‘industrial’ but this was ultra industrial, complete with a disused service lift door, though someone had attempted to pretty it up with netting and throws, it might be harsh to say it was akin to placing a toilet duck in the toilet from Trainspotting, but not by much. No table, but an antiquated trolley: dirty and holding an old milk bottle with water in it. It was to this that I directed Red to fill her glass for the water. It was to my backside she directed her boot to get some fresh water!
This is a bit of a bugbear of mine ( I know I have many!), yes I get the appeal and idea of grungy, industrial styling, I refer you to the aforementioned Camp and Furnace who carry this off well. Sadly some places cross the line into just plain unclean and, as many might say ‘mingin’. No we don’t all want to eat in a twee local tearoom but neither do I want to feel like a 19th century mill worker trying to sneak a bite of my lard pasty amongst the flying limbs of clogg-wearing child workers (OK I am overplaying the industrial theme now).
Anyway, I digress. Ambiance aside, what about the food? Well my sausage and bacon butty was very good. Toasted bread was, as you would expect from a bakery, excellent: crusty with a depth of flavour. The sausage was equally as excellent, as was the bacon. Fidget enjoyed his toast whilst Shy, the fussiest of fusspots, wolfed the unusual bread-wrapped sausage roll. Red’s bacon butty was also good, though tainted by her having to eat it in Renton’s living room. As for my coffee, Ethiopian I believe, it was served in an unexploded cafetiere complete with timer to tell me exactly when to depress the detonator. It too was delicious but again suffered from the simple error of being served in a chipped enamel mug.
“Excellent bakery products”
In conclusion then, I have absolutely no complaint with the food, especially the excellent bakery products, which could hold their own in any cafe or bakehouse. Even the dining room might have been judged differently at a different time or day, especially if we were sat at one of the regular tables complete with their own toasters, a nice interactive touch. Sadly we weren’t and so our environment was not conducive to an enjoyable snack. Would we go back? Well to paraphrase Trainspotting, Choose Life, Choose a job, choose a family…. we would choose to take away!
Service: 7/10 polite, friendly but overworked and hence slow
- Atmosphere: 6/10 dirty chic – pass me the Mr Muscle
- Food: 9/10 especially the bakery items
- Value for money: 8/10 decent price for quality food
- Overall: 7.5 Food great but give it a clean!
These are judged against the best of that type of restaurant. For example cafes against what you would expect from the best cafes, high end restaurants against the best high end restaurants etc.
Website: Baltic Bakehouse