Dish of the Week: Mikko’s lamb meatballs

Media Credit: Matt Dynes | Staff Photographer

The lamb meatballs dish ($10.50) is among the dozen small plates served at Mikko.

For a new spot with Nordic flair, Mikko offers unique sandwiches, gourmet small plates and hearty pastries.

The storefront on 1636 R St. NW opened in May and is headed by local caterer Mikko Kosonen – who used his name to dub the kitchen operation. Mikko takes inspiration from the cuisine of Scandinavian countries like Norway, Sweden and Finland, with a menu of fish, vegetables and light pastries.

The open layout of the cafe offers an intimate feel, with a row of bar seating in the back facing the kitchen, but you can also eat outside at a charming table and chair set cast in bright primary colors.

The cafe offers quick-bite food options from morning to evening, and is open most days from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. For breakfast, Mikko offers breakfast wraps and a ham and cheese croissant ($6.65) or pastries like their freshly baked cardamom buns ($3.50).

Cool off with sodas, coffee and espresso drinks or try out two house beverages, the sugary sweet elderflower and the more tangy lingonberry, a red berry native to the Scandinavian region, for a sweet $1 each.

Stop by for a hearty lunch, and you’ll find a few unique ingredients. A classic grilled cheese sandwich ($9.95) is served with a cold tomato soup. The heat isn’t the only twist on this seemingly traditional recipe, as there is also melon in the soup. If you don’t mind a little mess, the open-faced sandwiches are stacked with filling, like the shrimp salad skagen ($13.25), on multigrain bread with dill and lemon.

Gather some friends and share small plates, which Mikko serves after 5 p.m. These gourmet treats, sold for $10.50 each, pack the flavor.

The small plate that will have you fighting over the last bite is Mikko’s lamb meatballs.

This dish comes with five medium-sized meatballs in a well of starchy celery puree and topped with a demi-glace – a runny sauce, made of lingonberry.

The celery purée is thick and serves as a base for the dish before the meatballs are piled on top.

The meatballs are tiny but tasty, packed with spice and come in beef and lamb varieties. On their own, the lamb tastes smoky with a peppery richness, juxtaposed with the lingonberry’s tart flavor. The meatball tastes great sandwiched between rye bread with the purée spread on top.

The meatball’s small portion won’t fill you up on its own, so you won’t feel guilty orders seconds or thirds.

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