Saturday, December 24, 2011

Europa Bistro & Café Elevates Its Cuisine

The Storefront Area of Europa

      We started visiting Angelina’s at Findlay Market about a year before it closed. After that, the owners began a new venture in Mainstrasse in the form of a breakfast and lunch café.  At first, it had some markings of Angelina’s…especially with the Panini offerings.  Then they started having European afternoon (or lunch) teas.  Angela took Neil there for his birthday one year and they partied all afternoon on the Russian theme.  They found it memorable!  About the same time, they started being open on select nights for dinner focusing at first on Italian dishes. 

      I’ve always liked the food at Europa, though I had an issue with their P.R. abilities.  I tried to take my staff for a tea last year and they canceled the reservation because of
an emergency, but they never followed up to see if we’d want to return or offer an incentive.  We did go this year and ordered off the menu.  There was another group having a tea.  It looked excellent, but it has to be ordered ahead.  Judy asked about the dessert, but we were told those were only for the tea.  Okay, sort of understandable, but we were more than willing to pay for that dessert at a higher price than it probably was offered for the group tea.  I sort of didn’t get it.

      Last night, we visited with Susan and Kurt and found that this is now a full service restaurant with an extremely ambitious menu for a place that cannot have a very large kitchen.  There are appetizers, primi courses that are pasta, and secondi entrées that incorporate wild meat such as boar and a variety of fish.   I thought that it would be a similar menu to lunch, but it wasn’t. The selections were more formal.  However, entrées are served with a good salad – greens, dried cranberries, pecans, shaved fennel, and a creamy balsamic dressing.  
The Salad Served with Entrées 
Kurt, Susan, and Neil ordered pasta dishes.  These were home made ravioli, lobster in one dish, and butternut squash in another (and they offer a trio platter of their ravioli selections).  There were six very large ravioli, made up of delicate pasta with generous amounts of filling.  The fish was tender and meaty and was neither rubbery in texture nor ‘fishy’ in taste.  Kurt really enjoyed the butternut squash and both dishes had delicately seasoned sauces that complemented the filling choices.  

Butternut Squash Ravioli
Lobster Ravioli
I ordered the pork tenderloin roulade appetizer that involved Italian cheeses, spices, tomato sauce, served on sliced bread rounds.  It was cooked perfectly and tasted really good.  I wish they’d toasted the bread because it was bland.

Pork Tenderloin Roulade

Apple Pie and Gingerbread Gelato
      We finished off with a generous portion of apple pie and the gingerbread gelato.  Europa sells gelato and various desserts in the storefront part of the building and it’s pretty great.  Service was friendly and attentive; both staff members seemed to enjoy being there, which really makes a huge difference to most diners, though they might not acknowledge that’s the reason they like a specific restaurant.
Bistro Seating
There’s a quiet atmosphere about Europa, but it does seem more like a café or coffeehouse than a restaurant.  The glass-topped tables are pretty, but they don’t seem to mesh with the food being served and the cutlery and napkins seem cheap for a place that is ambitious and compelling.

I hear Kurt and Susan have two kitties.  I'd sure like to meet them someday.

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