Balkan Bistro and Bar
Balkan Bistro & Bar has the exposed beams and wood-and-khaki palette of a tudor cabin, but it's also filled with plush booths, cloth-swaddled tables, and bouquets of fresh-cut flowers. This contrast of quaint and contemporary also marks the upscale Mediterranean cuisine, which chef-owner Anja describes as "food from the heart, with an accent." Balkan Bistro & Bar started as a stand at the Charlottesville City Market; but within two years, it expanded into a restaurant where the aromas are universally welcoming, even if portions of the menu seem exotic. A Croatian spice called vegeta, for example, lends to Istrian- and Dalmatian-style mussels, and the more familiar local lamb chops topped with housemade pesto simmer near cabbage stew with organic beef medallions. Chalkboard menus list cocktails at the bar, where rows upon rows of uniquely displayed wine bottles climb so high they require a ladder or a tall stack of books about ladders.