The European

May 6, 2012

161 Spring Street, Melbourne
I’d been keen to try out the food at the European for quite a while. Over the summer I’d spent quite a few evenings enjoying the view of Parliament House afforded by Siglo, which meant passing by the doors of this section of the Con Christopoulos Spring Street establishment. I’d look in, ever eager, only catching glimpses of swish adults sitting drinking glasses of red, wearing fashionably framed glasses and generally looking artsy and sophisticated. I coveted it.
When the opportunity arose (teenage brother overseas, parents keen for a nice dinner in the city), I leapt at the chance and booked us a table with the extremely friendly people at the European.

The European is a strange combination of fine wine and expensive food, but in a casual and almost nonchalant atmosphere. The food is delicious but simple, there are no fancy foams or jellies. It’s all very European (surprise, surprise), and makes me feel more grown-up than I actually am.

My Dad leafing through the extensive wine list. Love this shot. We eventually decided on a 2009 Domaine Richaud Cairanna. French, naturally.

A special of fried zucchini flowers with goats cheese and eggplant. They were good but slightly overcooked, there should have been a slight crunch to the zucchini stems.

My dad had the whitebait and lemon aioli to begin. Simple and delicious (perhaps a tad overpriced, although I do appreciate the simple, relaxed look of the dish).

I had the entree of asparagus, soft boiled egg and truffled pecorino. I really enjoyed this, loved the heady mushrooms and salty cheese with the sweetness of the asparagus spears. Although if I’m going to be picky about it, the egg was just on the side of overcooked.

Continuing with his marine theme for the evening, my dad ordered the snapper, baked with some sort sauce that I can’t remember because the wine was too nice… My notes only reveal that he reported very positively on it, and that it came with a side dish of, wait for it, deep fried broccoli. Quite the revelation. He loved it, though I remain unconvinced.

My mum had the fricassee of fish and shellfish with black and white linguine. It came in a beautifully aromatic saffron broth and was much enjoyed.

Given the warm weather, something fishy probably would have been more appropriate, but I had a hankering for meat so went with the beef wellington. Hell yes.

Two sizeable, perfectly pink slices of beef topped with the most delicious mushroom duxelle that filled your mouth, all encased in a crisp, bready crust. Super delicious and very effective at ramping up my blood-iron content.

The side of beans was cheerful but forgettable. What you really ought to order is the Italian Coleslaw, a fantastic tumble of cabbage, fennel, radish, mint and parmesan. Mum has since recreated it several times at home; it goes brilliantly with steak.

A tiramisu was shared for dessert. Not bad, but then I’m extremely picky about tiramisu – the consistency of the cream, the ratio of sponge fingers to cream, the addition of chocolate (abhorred), the amount of liquor (encouraged), etc. I found this, despite appearances in the below photo, to be a tad dry; more cream and less biscuit would have been better.

Anyway, to cap off a lovely (though admittedly rather pricy) meal, it turned out that the carpark we’d parked in closes at 9pm on Sundays (!!!), so my poor Dad had his car locked away overnight! I was quite buzzed from all the red wine, which made for an almost surreal taxi ride home – if anything is the mark of a good evening, it’s getting a cab home, tipsy, with your parents because you’ve lost your Dad’s car! An excellent night’s work, Natalie. Excellent.

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