In late January, an inviting Eastern European-style cafe opened in Petworth. Owner Kera Carpenter decorated her Domku Bar & Cafe with a mix of traditional and modern Swedish furnishings, such as white pine floors, crystal chandeliers and comfy sectional sofas. The menu features flavors from the Baltic and beyond.
"It's a little bit of everything -- a neighborhood meeting place, a bar and a cafe with a Scandinavian/Slavic menu," says Carpenter, who grew fond of the cooking in those regions while serving for three years in the Peace Corps in Poland. The cafe's Polish name means roughly "in the little house."
The kitchen is under the command of neighborhood native Eric Evans, who makes the popular sandwiches of kielbasa, blue cheese and watercress ($6.95), spicy grilled white cheddar cheese with cilantro and chili peppers ($5.95) and Finnish cold cured beef ($7.95). At lunch and dinner, there's carrot ginger soup ($3.50) a gravlax on greens salad with pine nuts ($7.25) and, of course, Swedish meatballs with mashed potato and lingonberry preserves ($13.50).
The bar specialty is house-made aquavit -- vodka flavored with herbs, spices or fruit ($6 for a single shot, $16 for a flight of three flavors). The classic caraway aquavit is a good place to start before moving on to dill or lemon grass-ginger. Nine Eastern European bottled beers are available ($6 each). Add a shot of sweet and fruity black currant, cherry or raspberry syrup to your beer for 75 cents. "That's very Polish," says Carpenter.
Domku Bar & Cafe, 821 Upshur St. NW; Call 202-722-7475. Open 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday.
-- Walter Nicholls