Monday, April 16, 2012

The European

I make the majority of my friends online. It's true. I spent my secondary school years on videogame forums, sharing fanart and talking about…well games. I used to be really good at keeping in touch with all these friends too, spending hours on msn, aim, whatever messenger fit the bill.

These days though, I am terrible. I think as I've gotten better at socialising in person (yes, I am that big a loser that it's something I have to work on...), I've gotten worse at chatting to people online. Go figure.

Daniel, who I met back in the day on a Golden Sun forum, sent me a message on twitter that we should catch up. It had been probably a year and a half since I had last seen him! So of course, I said yes, but we couldn't find a date that worked for us within that week, so the topic got dropped…and I forgot to follow up with him for a week or two.


I eventually got around to getting in touch with him again, and suggested we go to the European, somewhere that had a delicious looking menu, and seemed like a fairly easy going place to eat, and good spot to catch up.

Daniel is one of those few friends I have, who is always as punctual as I. We both arrived at the European, 3 minutes past 7pm and squeezed in through the rather narrow entryway.

The European, at night, personified, is a dark and broody man, he would drink whiskey and smoke cigars on the rooftop at the Supper Club next door. It was quite an intimate space, with tables pushed in close together and spots for two lining the hallway, where we sat. Taking photos in here was any food bloggers worst nightmare, but I perservered and hoped for the best!

I really enjoyed browsing through the menu, it is not too long, but there is plenty of variety and of course, many, many, yummy sounding things. It was quite hard not to just order one of each!

The bread was served, not with butter, but something else. It was like mayonnaise or aioli I think, but it was pretty addictive, as it was so light, but so savoury!

One thing I had been eyeing on the menu online, before we even arrived at the restaurant, was the smoked eel and jamon croquettes. Lightly crumbed, these nibbles were just delightful. They were packed with flavour, more jamon than smoked eel to me, but there was a lot of bang in these little balls. Cheesy too. Num num.

When I ordered the pork belly parcels, I was half hoping we'd have little dumpling like wrapped goodies, like a mini santa bag filled with pork! Although this was not quite the case, but I really liked how these came out regardless. The pastry was light, and didn't interfere with letting the pork belly shine. I enjoyed that the meat wasn't falling apart and had a bit of firmness to it, but that's how I personally prefer my pork belly.

There was a comfortable wait between our entrees and mains, allowing us to digest the richness a bit. In this time Daniel and I caught up on videogame chat, him filling me in on all the new stuff coming out, as I'm a bit out of the loop these days. One of the many reasons I love my guy friends.

It was a slightly warm night, so I decided instead of getting a meaty main, to just have the tomato gazpacho with crab and avocado. It was absolutely what I needed. A bit of acid from the tomato, creaminess from the avocado (which was absolutely perfect) and sweetness from the crab and prawns. There was a bit of bite in the gazpacho as well, like a little surprising firework. Light, but zesty. I'm actually surprised how long I managed to make the soup last, as I really did savour every sip and nibble.

However, as delightful as my soup was, Daniel's pan-fried potato and ricotta gnocchi…well. It was pretty out of this world. Each bite in the generously sized gnocchi was creamy and pillowy. I'm no expert with gnocchi, but I really loved it's density and texture. With ricotta too? Seriously. Perfection. Want to show up at the European everyday when it's winter to warm my belly with this goodness. We were both rather impressed.

Although I thought I was pretty content, it's always hard to turn down the dessert menu when it's just, y'know, casually plopped onto your table.

And so, turn it down, I did not.

Yeah, yoda mode.

Chocolate salty caramel, peanuts and sour cream ice cream. Yes, this I had.

And yes, it was sinful. It was thick, dark and rich. There was nothing light about this dessert in the slightest. Dark chocolate wrapped around a really dense caramel. Ah huh. Although I went full ball at the beginning to try and get through as much of it as I could, I was not able to see through to the salty chocolatey caramelly end.

The sour cream ice-cream was something quite different, and it's tanginess was absolutely needed as a little intermission of palate cleansing in all of the richness. Great pairing.

Daniel kept it simple and went with the coconut and apple gelato. He actually ate all of it. I did not try any, so I can only assume it's deliciousness. It is presented quite cutely though no?

All in all, a fabulous meal. Maybe a touch noisy in the restaurant at times, but bearable for the most part. Food though, fantastic. Am quite relieved, now that I've visited myself, I can recommend people to eat here too!

It was so great to catch up with Daniel and reminded me of times in the past when we would sit in the state library or along the Yarra river and take turns showing each other new DS or PSP games. It's a little bit sad to be growing up sometimes though. Now that we're both working, both have partners, it feels like there's not so much time for getting lost in that kind of stuff. Life and what not.

The European

161 Spring St
Melbourne, VIC 3000

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