Well Buggles and Squeak are back in our favourite Australian city......Melbourne.
We are down here with Cooty, so know our dining options will be limited.
A work colleague suggested a restaurant in Melbourne that she rather fancied on her last visit, and on perusing the menu online, I realise that The European is probably a safe bet.
When we arrive the restaurant is still relatively empty, however in no time at all it fills up. This is one popular restaurant.
As the name would suggest, the restaurant really does have quite a European feel to it. The room is long, narrow & dark and menu pays homage to just about every country in the European Union!
We are seated at a large wooden table near the front of the restaurant....perfect for watching the comings & goings.
We each start with a glass of sparkling and set about deciding what to order.
Cooty really can't go past the freshly shucked Coffin Bay Oysters served natural. They are huge, plump and meaty! However, they are served with their natural brine which results in Cooty finding them a little too salty. On the whole she does enjoy them though.
Buggles starts her evening with Steak Tartare with traditional condiments....and of course topped with a raw egg. This dish is delicious and one I wish I had ordered myself. The meat is beautifully seasoned and, accompanied with a squeeze of lemon, is a great start to the meal.
I find it hard to not order Vitello Tonnato, so when I spy it on the specials board it is any easy decision.
Mostly tender (there are a few chewy bits) poached veal sits on top of a lovely tuna laden mayonaise, topped with a smattering of capers. I must say, in terms of flavour, I prefer the Vitello Tonnato at Cafe Sopra (even though they can be quite heavy handed with the mayo) & La Scala on Jersey. The European version is still very good.
Moving on to mains & Cooty's Spaghetti alla Marinara is not what she is expecting. A little too lightly sauced for her tastes, it does however, contain an abundance of mussels, prawns & huge chunks of fish, which Cooty finds delicious.
Buggles main is Pork Three Ways, roasted, belly parcel and stuffed 'spring roll'. The roasted portion is absolutely delicious. It is moist and almost sweetly flavoured. She does think that black pudding in just one of the other two elements would have sufficed though.
My Roasted Eye Fillet with onion tart & marrow is good, but not great. The fillet is well cooked, but not as tender as expected. The marrow is crumbed & deep fried & while this would normally scream 'Squeak'...it just doesn't work for me. The crumbing and frying give the marrow an odd flavour. The onion tart & onion rings are both very good & there is a disc of shredded slow cooked oxtail(?) that is also very nice. On the whole though the dish just seems to have too many components.
As dessert approaches Cooty is feeling a little stuffed & decides to order the Selection of ices and sorbets. On this occasion the flavours are malt chocolate, passionfruit & raspberry. She enjoys them immensely.
White Chocolate, pear and passionfruit parfait with pear sorbet, really hits the spot for Buggles. The flavours are bold, but not overpowering. A very refreshing dish. The poached spiced pear proves to be a surprising winner on the plate.
As a lover of salty caramel combined with chocolate I really have no choice but to order Chocolate salty caramel, peanuts and sour cream ice cream. One word....spectacular. The salty, chocolately richness is tempered by the wonderful sour ice cream. A fantastic combination.
Dessert is definitely the highlight for me and Buggles.
So while we enjoyed our meal at The European, we were not blown away by it. We had very high expectations & it fell a little short.
We were pretty impressed, however, with the friendly and efficient service.
P.S We did return for breakfast two days later & I ordered the 'European Breakfast'...at $20.90 I was anticipating a HUGE serve.
I was actually quite stunned when it arrived. It consisted of 1 piece of toast, two poached eggs, 1 small button mushroom, half a tomato and just the small eye portion of two pieces of bacon! It tasted good, granted, but seriously $20.90!!!!