Sunday, 11 May 2014

The Euro - a faultless meal

We'd left it until the last moment before deciding that we wanted to hit one of Brisbane's best restaurants on a Saturday night.  I'm not sure if you've ever tried to book into on of the city's best restaurants at 2:30pm on a Saturday, but it can be a bit hit and miss (mostly miss).  We really wanted to have a meal that would be faultless, so that meant that there was only a handful of restaurants where we could be absolutely certain that we'd have a perfect dinner.  Sure, we could have tried some of our usual haunts, but we also wanted to go somewhere where we'd not been before.

We actually decided that it was impossible to find an amazing restaurant that we'd not eaten at, at least once, so we agreed that we should go to one that we'd not been to together before.  The Euro in Mary Street is just such a restaurant and I'd tried to get a seat the previous weekend at around the same time, without luck, but being the eternal optimist, had another crack.  A quick call to book a table was successful, albeit for a 6pm sitting with a promise of being out by 8pm, something that we were happy to guarantee.

I'd last been to The Euro for a work function in 2012 and at the very beginning of my food blogging journey and had been mightily impressed (see post here).  At the time The Euro had recently acquired a new head chef, and co-owner Alejandro Cancino, who was still finding his feet in Brisbane.  In the sixteen months since my last visit to The Euro, Alejandro has woven his magic in the kitchen and elevated the restaurant to one of the top in the country.  The Euro is currently 66th on the 2014 Gourmet Traveller list of top 100 restaurants, which is a pretty impressive feat - even more so when you consider big fine dining brother Urbane is number 12 on the same list.  More impressive when you consider The Euro also has a Brisbane Times chefs hat and a Gourmet Traveller star.

Many people would consider 6pm early for a Saturday night dinner reservation, but we're very OK with such an early start, at least it meant that we'd be out at a reasonable time.  The Euro is just around the corner from our apartment, so we left just before six and slowly wandered over, but not slowly enough. We arrived right on time at six and the doors were still closed, so we went for a walk around the block to await the opening.  Once we returned to our starting spot, the doors were still closed but another couple had arrived and were wandering up and down the street looking for the entrance.  Just as they started to worry that they'd never get in, the Manager opened the doors with a flourish and we were in.

The Euro is a funky looking restaurant with exposed brick walls that is split over a couple of levels, separated by a chefs table and the bar area.  We were seated at the front of the dining area, which gave us great views of the modern fit out with lots of colour and interesting light fittings.  There's not much of a chance of me dining anonymously at the Euro, especially after frequenting Urbane as often as we have and we were greeted warmly by the wait staff.  After a few moments Alejandro also came out of the kitchen to say hi and and have a little bit of a chat before heading off into the kitchen for what he said was going to be a very busy night.

We were given a couple of menus to look over but I'd already had a really good look online and knew exactly what I wanted, and even though the menu was a little different, my choices were still there, phew!  It was great that there were some extra items on the menu because they were precisely what SC ended up ordering, so it was win-win for all.  First up was a pumpkin veloute with herb creme fraiche and roasted pumpkin, which was clearly influenced by Alejandro's vegetarian tendencies.  The veloute was presented simply in a bowl but there was no mistaking this dish was out of the kitchen of a master chef, it was delicious.  I've never liked pumpkin but after some encouragement from SC, I'd had a spoonful and had to admit that the silky and creamy soup was quite lovely.

I'd opted for the classic flavours of scallops with Serrano ham, Jerusalem artichoke puree with sourdough croutons.  The scallops were cooked to perfection with just the right amount of caramelisation and a texture that was just right.  The dish combined a couple of foods that I just love, Serrano ham and scallops, but the dish was pulled together by the simply amazing sauces, the Jerusalem artichoke puree and what tasted like chimichurri.  The sweetness of the scallops and the slightly salty ham worked perfectly together and while the textures contrasted nicely, there was the addition of flat croutons to provide just a little bit more.  It was a perfectly balanced dish that left me wanting more and I had to settle for mopping up the last of the sauce with my finger.

With many delicious looking mains on offer, SC was torn but finally decided on the spatchcock breast with glazed legs, shallot puree, salsa verde and roasted parsnips.  The components of the dish were artfully placed on a wooden board that provided a rustic look, albeit one where every element was precisely placed for greatest effect.  To say the chicken was perfectly cooked was an understatement, the crispy skin was seasoned just right and the moist flesh packed an intense chicken flavour.  The shallot puree sounded unusual on the menu but worked wonderfully with the chicken, especially with the slightly zingy salsa.  An earthy flavour was added with the roasted parsnips which brought the dish together wonderfully, in fact it would be hard to imagine this dish without any of the included ingredients.

In what ended up being a fish night for me, I'd chosen the pan roasted barramundi with caramelised carrot puree and school prawns beurre noisette.  I loved the presentation of the vibrant coloured dish which included carrots presented a number of ways and the tiny little prawns, almost, but not quite, hiding the supremely cooked barra underneath.  What amazed me was that the skin of the barramundi remained crispy, even though there was a beurre noisette (brown butter) and school prawns covering the fish.  I'm not sure what was best, the flaky and flavoursome fish or the incredibly creamy carrot puree that complimented the dish so well.  The dish contained a combination of strong flavours that could have been out of balance if not applied by an expert chef, but in this instance was perfectly balanced.

There was never a doubt that we'd be following our mains with dessert and SC ordered the apple crumble with Adelaide Hills apple cider sorbet, manly to make amends for the last crumble she'd had that was not quite right (see post here).  I watched SC have her first bite and I knew that she was onto a winner.  I snuck my spoon over so I could have a try and it was 'oh-my-goodness' good and I suspected that she might have picked the winning dessert for the night.  The sweetness of the stewed apple was wonderful, as was the stunning crumble, but what made the dessert sing was the slightly tart apple  cider sorbet, simply stunning.

While SC's apple crumble had a wintery feel to it, my deconstructed pavlova with fresh berries and vanilla Chantilly cream was very much rooted in summer.  A lot of people aren't big fans of deconstructed desserts but I really like them.  There is a certain beauty that can be achieved with individual elements carefully placed with an eye to presentation, while at the same time remaining true to the original form.  The team at The Euro did a wonderful job presenting a lovely, fresh looking dessert that still tasted just like a pavlova.  I especially loved the meringue, which was crunchy on the outside but all so chewy and delicious on the inside.

We'd come out with the idea that we'd have a faultless meal and The Euro certainly delivered.  Each dish was wonderful and perfect in its own way but as a meal from beginning to end, there was a flow that ensured that the whole meal was a journey of sensations.  I'm a big fan of Alejandro and what he has been able to achieve since he arrived in Brisbane.

What's really apparent at the Euro, and indeed Urbane next door, is that the restaurant has a real familiar feel to it, as if all of the staff are part of a big and united family.  The staff are friendly and professional and clearly love working for Alejandro and his partner Andrew.  We've got to know some of the team over the years and always get treated nicely by them and it's interesting to see new staff joining the team from some of our other favourite restaurants around town and slotting straight into groove of the place.

It's hard to remain objective about a restaurant when you know the people who work there but to be honest, it's pretty easy to say nice things about the Euro, its simply an amazing place to eat.  Our meals on the night were just what we wanted, faultless from beginning to end and just full of flavour.  I guess I'm a sucker for a great meal and really, do I need to be totally objective with such amazing food?

I love the exposed brick walls and colourful light fittings
We started with some olive bread and a really nice olive oil
SC went with a nice pinot noir
Up the stairs to the bar
The scallop dish was beautiful on the plate
A chefs table in between dining areas
The back of the restaurant was packed
And just a few awards!

The Euro on UrbanspoonThe Euro


  1. Looks like a faultless meal indeed! :)

    1. Sapphira, it sure was mate, loved every bite and wanted more!!


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