Last August, eight-and-a-half months pregnant, I found myself stranded on Capitol Hill with a mean hankering for sausage. My partner (otherwise known as the Impregnator) and I were experiencing a SAUSAGE EMERGENCY.

This was before the kind and gentle folks who brought us Diggity Dog realized that there were some VERY HUNGRY, VERY PREGNANT WOMEN ON CAPITOL HILL WHO NEEDED SOME PORK LACED WITH NITRITES, FOR CHRISSAKES. Suddenly, there, in all its strange architectural glory, rose the Polish Home Association. Poland! Birthplace of the Polish sausage! Swollen ankles forgotten, I burst through the doors, nodded at the trustworthy-looking chef, and within minutes found myself slicing through a kielbasa bigger than my wrist, much bigger than my baby's arm-to-be.

A chef is the wet-nurse for the weaned. One needs his knowledge of spices, respect for pork, and liberal use of butter, just like one used to need Jesus to forgive one and the drill team to stop beating one up. Dom Polski is graced with a generous chef, a man in a red-and-white striped shirt and giant apron who appears to glide about the dining room despite his considerable girth, pausing to joke with diners. This is a man who has a picture of the South Park chef posted in his kitchen.

You see, Dom Polski is not so much a restaurant as a happening. Once a week, friends and acquaintances gather to socialize, drink Polish beer at the most beautiful bar on Capitol Hill, and eat. Kids dash between tables and legs, middle-aged women light up cigarettes next to the NO SMOKING sign, while traditional and popular Polish music whips everyone into a beer-drinking frenzy. Well, not the kids. They climb on tables, support-beams, the piano, until waitresses shoo them off. Servers appear and return at random intervals with ludicrously large plates of Polish fare. No frilly garnishes, no particular timing. Ordering the Special Polish Platter results in an almost instantaneous service of cabbage roll (stuffed with spiced beef, smothered in delicious, um, red sauce), pierogis (dumplings stuffed with sauerkraut and mushroom), whipped potatoes and dill, and kielbasa (hallelujah) -- all for the low, low price of $9.50.

There are many, many delightful, filling, and comfort-giving foods on the menu, but let me dwell on the Polish Platter for a moment longer. This particular plate of meat and potatoes aroused such feelings of gratitude and fulfillment that as I gazed across a film of sweat at my lover, I remembered the many risky acts that had brought us to my present condition. The Polish Home is a happening altogether separate and distinct from soul food, nourishing food, prepared and consumed in a place so as to nurture, not merely titillate or tease.

When I returned this spring with a passel of fellow diners, we sampled nearly the entire menu, some items more than once. Beefsteak Tartar ($5.50) arrived on a paper plate. "You know what you are eating?" our friendly and helpful guide/ server asked. I never would have tried raw beef with onions, capers, and a raw egg yolk (because I am a wuss), but everyone at the table next to us ate platefuls of it, and it was so beautiful and red, and I was so caught up in the moment -- wishing I were Polish -- that I tried it. When I went back for a second bite, it was gone. Potato Pancakes ($6.50) are served piping hot, with sour cream -- perfectly crisped deep brown on the outside, nice and melt-in-your-mouth inside. Breakfast joints all over the city, the nation, the world, take note: God/your mama had these in mind when she invented latkes.

My only regret last Friday was seeing, after having failed to order, a fine specimen of ham hocks, rising at least ONE FOOT IN HEIGHT from its plate. On the menu, this dish hides under the modest title "Hock" ($9.50).

I would like to state that although I forced the reader to think long and hard about the Polish Platter, to dwell on its value and immediacy, I believe the Breaded Pork Chops with the Exquisite Sauerkraut of the Polish Home (plus Whipped Potatoes with Dill) for $9.50 to be well worth the wait -- and next Friday when I go back to Dom Polski, I will order them again, and I will wait for a half-hour without complaining. I will sit quietly, ecstatically, and slurp my nice Pilsner and smile at everyone, because I'M GETTING THE PORK CHOPS. HA.

Dom Polski Zaprasza (Polish Home Association)

1714 18th Ave, 322-3020. Open Fri 7-11 pm only. Full bar. Cash only. $$

Price Scale (per entrée)

$ = $10 and under; $$ = $10-20; $$$ = $20 and up

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Part theater, part revival, and all power, this one-woman show will have your head nodding and hands clapping!