on August 19, 2006
There is a danger that in describing somewhere as a "garlic restaurant", it is made to sound rather gimmicky and that somehow the gimmick will surpass the cooking. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth with Balthasar, Tallinn's Garlic Restaurant. First, the setting is fantastic, situated on the first floor above Rae apteek, with lovely views over the square and towards the Town Hall. It is rather like being in a country-manor dining room: wooden beams and floor, ornate chairs, fresh white linen, and subdued and subtle lighting. There were very few people in the restaurant when we visited, reflective of it being a freezing Sunday night in winter rather than the standard of the restaurant, so the atmosphere was quiet and intimate. Service was also very good, attentive and helpful without being overbearing.As to the food, which reflects an international cuisine, it was excellent. On the menu each dish is given a bulb rating--3 or above, and you better not have any vampire blood in you! There is a good selection of starters, soup, meat, and fish dishes, plus a vegetarian option. When we visited, the menu included dishes such as gratinated scallops and mushrooms, garlic soup with salmon flakes (very rich, very creamy, and very Moorish), fried flounder in a garlic sauce, and pork Noisettes with a red wine and thyme sauce. Plus, there were side orders of garlic (of course) potatoes and vegetables.You can order garlic side dishes, including the wonderful "garlic assortment," a pile of cloves in four different marinades: pesto, chili, vinegar and spice. And don't leave before trying the garlic ice cream, which comes in a crisp almond basket and chocolate sauce. Like the creamiest ice cream you’ve ever had, but with a hint of sweet garlic--sounds strange, tastes delicious!All in all, it was a wonderful meal in charming surroundings, and at 1,050 EEK (approx. £46.00/$86.00) for three courses, plus drinks, it was a pretty good value, too.
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