Not really reviewed...
The European is a bit of a Melbourne institution, known for late opening hours, good quality food and a by-the-glass wine list that actually manages to offer some choice! This isn't really a review, so much as a few vague comments regarding a visit for dinner about a month ago for which I hadn't managed to write a real review. In some ways, that actually seems appropriate: The European somehow retains a wonderfully casual atmosphere, despite a serious foodie-following.
The food itself is steeped in old-world favorites: there's nothing pretentious here, but unlike other kitchens who read "quality produce" to mean "boring", The European has continued to brighten the culinary landscape surrounding it, rather than becoming a black hole of lost creativity.
On previous occasions, we've tried their greek lamb, which comes served with a delightfully crisp "spring roll" of braised lamb shoulder. On that dish, they were miles ahead of Melbourne darling The Press Club - take note, King George. (Ouch, that comment's going to hurt!)
On our most recent visit, however, we had a "simple" confit duck cassoulet. Simple it was, but at the same time, it showed a little more depth. The side salad (sadly overlooked at most establishments) showed a little thought when it arrived with orange to balance the richness of the perfectly cooked beans.
I had Googled the restaurant before I left home and was delighted to find some whinging pom complaining that The European didn't serve Australian beers and wines. I list that as a wonderful attribute, not that Australia doesn't have good things to offer, but because it's rare to find somewhere that doesn't just list the entertaining wines by the bottle, but by the glass too. Be adventurous, ask for help and enjoy the results.
It might be a little boisterous at times (probably not so flash for a quiet romantic couple) but just sit back, relax and pretend you're in Rome and you'll love it. You can't go past the European for a late-night supper, but don't overlook it for a serious dinner, either.
A dozen freshly shucked oysters with shallot vinegar, A plate of Joselito Jamon Iberico, Rabbit, leek and prune pie, Confit duck cassoulet.
By the glass.