Just next door to their well-regarded Ethiopic, Meseret Bekele and Samuel Ergete quietly opened Batter Bowl Bakery at 403 H St. NE earlier this month. Step inside and it's immediately clear you've arrived at the neighborhood's newest gem.
The 10-table cafe boasts the same refreshingly simple, modern aesthetic the couple employs at their Ethiopian restaurant, but the vibe at Batter Bowl is utterly French. (True to her word, Bekele told Tom Sietsema last month that the plan was for the bakery to be "completely different" from the dining room.)
Old jazz standards pour from the speakers at a level that still allows patrons to work (and talk). Illy coffee and espresso drinks are on the menu, and a pastry case is packed with fresh-from-the-oven tarts, golden croissants and, of course, baguettes. (The new Le Grenier, at 502 H St. NE, is also serving French-inspired food in the H Street corridor's rapidly developing western side, but with a focus on dinner.)
Batter Bowl's kitchen turns out breakfast and lunch fare including Belgian waffles, eggs on toast and open-faced sandwiches. The Third Street sandwich features air-cured beef, arugula and sun-dried tomatoes; the Eighth Street is topped with chickpeas, avocado, capers and other veggies.
For now, the cafe will be open from 7 a.m. to about 6 p.m. daily, Bekele said, with plans to eventually remain open until 8 p.m. The Web site for the shop is under construction, but you can find more photos and the menu below.