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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The European-Style Baltica Tea Room and Gift Shop

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In the hustle and bustle of our busy schedules, it’s sometimes hard to find a moment to sit back and relax. But when you do, Baltica Bistro (223 N. Franklin St., Port Washington) is the perfect place to savor those moments of serenity. Located in a restored 1854 Italianate-style J. Thill building on Port Washington’s historic Main Street, Baltica tea room and gift shop offers a cozy atmosphere inspired by the owner’s native country of Poland. Walk up to the tea bar, which boasts more than 60 loose-leaf teas, and take a hot or cold drink and scone to go, or grab a seat at one of the golden oak Amish-made tables for a refreshing lunch from Baltica’s internationally inspired menu. In both cases, be sure to peruse the walls lined with fair-trade items and gifts, Boleslawiec pottery, beautiful international and local artwork, tea accessories and much more.

Every visit to Baltica is unique, as each guest receives a free “tea of the day” sample upon entering. These are typically delightful mixes of tea flavors brewed fresh daily. Black, herbal, green, white and oolong teas are available, including Mango Melange herbal tea, Pu-Erh Blood Orange black tea, Ancient Moonlight white tea and Iron Goddess of Mercy oolong tea, to name a few. French press coffee, hot chocolate, lemonade and a small selection of wines are also offered. But don’t mistake Baltica as just a tea room—this restaurant’s lunch menu, though petite, presents a winning variety of sandwiches, soups, salads and desserts, most of which are made with local and organic produce.

Soups rotate on a regular basis and one that everybody should try is the Polish Dill Pickle ($3.50/cup, $4.75/bowl), a deliciously tangy broth-based zupa that can be a satisfying meal in and of itself, with generous portions of carrots, potatoes, celery, dill and finely julienned pickles. The menu, which is usually broadened with a good variety of daily lunch specials, is an eclectic mix of entrées, each served with a side salad (upgrade for $1) and fresh fruit. Of particular note are the Mini Rustic Tarts ($10.95), three warm, buttery quiches of portabella and parmesan, spinach and goat cheese and sausage and cheddar, each as good as the next. Also tasty is the Italian Panini Toscana ($11.95; gluten free bread is available upon request), a flavorful grilled sandwich of smoked ham, salami, mozzarella, tomato and pesto. Other menu items include the Tarragon Albacore Tuna Salad ($10.50), a Southwest Wrap ($10.95) of homemade black bean salsa, mixed greens, hummus and cheddar in a large tortilla, and the Artisan Cheese Plate ($15.95), an assortment of cheese, chutney, local honey, fruit, crackers and sausages from Port Washington’s Bernie’s Fine Meats.

In addition to this fine selection of entrées, Baltica is gaining attention for its delectable, melt-in-your-mouth scones, which come in a variety of flavors and could arguably rank as some of the best in the Metro area. The current seasonal scone is strawberry-rhubarb—a perfect dessert. For those with a sweeter tooth, try the meringue with ice cream, a croissant with Nutella, gluten-free chocolate cake, Italian tiramisu, apple cake or cheesecake, or ask about the daily dessert special.

This exceptional restaurant in Port has distinctive flare and flavor and is definitely a must when enjoying the lakefront city. Baltica Bistro also offers home and business lunch catering and can be reserved for private parties. Summer hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. To make a reservation (recommended), call 262-268-8832. For more information, visit balticabistro.com.

 

Baltica Bistro

223 N. Franklin St., Port Washington

262-268-8832

$$

Handicapped access: Yes