The Baltic Triangle is much changed these days, have you seen it recently? Amid the garages, showrooms and furniture warehouses there are new bars, eateries, places of work springing up. The Baltic Creative Campus houses a street of, well, creatives, within its hangar-like confines. We should know – we’ve got a shed there (yes a shed, but no Swarfega at present).
The Camp and Furnace tempts me all day long with its lovely Craft Brewery-made Brown Bear beer (try saying that after three or four) – it’s fed with honey from the Wirral and it’s a little stronger than your average bear. Just a stone’s throw away is the Unit 51 Coffee, offering strong caffeine hits and home-made sarnies. Just around the corner is Elevator Bar and Cafe.
But the area still harks back to its former heyday as a place of work – of salty types and malt shovellers. Cains, with its Brewery Tap pub, and the Nordic Church mark two corners of the the Baltic Triangle, but beer and seafaring come together in the Baltic Fleet; once a place of respite, warmth and merry-making for seamen and dockers, it now fulfils the same role for those seeking food, real ale and an always-convivial atmosphere.
Word has it that when The Strand was being widened, the design was changed to incorporate the pub – the road narrows to two lanes at this point as a result. And where would George and Chrissy have ended up following their walk around the obliterated Albert Dock in The Boys From The Blackstuff’s finest episode, had George not popped his clogs in front of one of the Tate’s cafe? The Baltic, of course. Such is the pub’s reputation.
The Baltic has always been a favourite for its beer brewed under the floorboards of the pub in tunnel-like cellars – which form the entirety of the Wapping Brewery – and ale brewed on the premises can be found all over Liverpool; you can take away a cask for a party if you want. There are generally four or five home-brewed beers on here, ranging from light summer ales to heavier porters and stouts, but today we’ve come for the food.
There’s a simple choice: scouse or pies – with red cabbage if you so choose. The pies consist of chicken balti or meat and potato for £3 or, if you have more of a hunger, a large steak and ale effort, baked in a cup overflowing with flaky pastry, for four quid.
There’s some tender stewing steak, onions and mushroom in the pie, but it’s the gravy – made of a rich, smoky porter – that really makes the difference to this boozy comforter. And with the Winter cold still biting, the Baltic is – conversely – the cosiest place to be of a lunchtime.
Nearby Liverpool’s creatives are bringing another form of industry to the area, but it’s somehow reassuring to think that there’ll always be a part of the Baltic Triangle that offers these simple, homely pleasures.
The Baltic Fleet