European Cafe

The European has been a staple of Norwood Parade since 1979. It has always been one of my favourites as it possesses what I feel to be the most underrated quality of a restaurant – consistency. I’ve been going to the European for around 20 years and the quality of the food and service has remained consistently high all this time. It was a pleasure to be invited to the European for lunch this week.

We started with Figs and Gorgonzola from the specials menu. A beautiful display of sliced fresh and baked figs. It’s lovely to contrast the two juxtaposing textures and flavours of fig. For me the concentration of sugar in the baked fig worked best with the very pungent gorgonzola sauce. A must have for lovers of blue cheese.

We also tried the Carpaccio of perfectly sliced, paper thin beef fillet dressed with caramelized onion and a good glug of olive oil. Fresh orange segments give the meat a citrusy lift and peppery rocket pairs well for seasoning and texture.

From the main menu we selected the Pollo Gorgonzola; chicken breast topped with a rocket and pear salad. The salad is far more than a garnish, generously piled on top and well dressed with vinaigrette. The sauce has subtle sweetness from the gorgonzola but is rich and velvety but not as powerful as it was in the figs.

For the pasta we chose the Linguine Granchio – crab linguine. Perfectly cooked pasta swathed in a light rose sauce, just enough to coat each strand. A good dose of oil lubricates the pasta making it luscious to eat. The crab meat is well dispersed throughout the pasta and sufficient enough that when all the pasta was eaten there was still crab left on the plate. Just the perfect amount of chilli was the perfect touch to a tasty meal.

We loved the clean, fresh flavours in the Primavera Risotto. Loaded with vegetables including roasted pumpkin, zucchini, spinach, peas and onion the overall vibe is Summery and refreshing. Creamy, starchy rice is subtly flavoured with cheese and cubes of feta add a salty taste explosion.

If it’s a pizza that you are after the European has 9 varieties to choose from as well as a couple of calzones. We went with the namesake European Pizza with toppings of leg ham, salami, olives, mushrooms, roasted capsicum layered on top. Its nice and salty, light on grease but the thin base was by no means dry. Layered with tomato sauce and a scattering of cheese the ratio of toppings was well executed.

I’ve always found the European extremely reliable for catering to the sweet tooth. Many a time I have headed in after dinner for coffee (or more likely a wine) and a Tiramisu. Today we tried a couple of other desserts and they were just a wonderful. One of the prettiest desserts I’ve seen in a long time, the Raspberry Semifreddo is a work of art. Almond nougat semifreddo set on top of a savioardi biscuit layered with a touch of chocolate. The ice cream is not overly sweet and has a nice nutty caramel flavour. Freeze dried raspberries and almond and praline decorate the top with a drizzle of chocolate sauce. This dessert is sure to bring a smile to your face.

The textbook texture of the Lemon Pannacotta give the ideal wobble on the plate. It is velvety smooth and flavoured with vanilla. Served with a delectable, zesty lemon curd that is bursting with citrus punch. A little goes a long way with the delicate pannacotta so there’s an almond cookie (gluten free) for extra dipping.

Yet again the European has proven itself to serve superb Italian fare across all three courses. Restaurants come and go in the blink of the eye and to be popular for almost 40 years is no mean feat. It’s easy to see why, a great location in the heart of the Parade, consistently great food and attentive service are the recipe for success and the European have it nailed.

Words by Kate Wilkinson

WHERE: 219 The Parade, Norwood

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