150 Wellington Pde, East Melbourne - ph (03) 9417 7220
Europa Bistro & Delicatessen is the new addition to Europa Cellars, an independent wine importer specialised in European wines.
The wine shop often host tastings showcasing wines from across Europe at varied price ranges. I like shopping there when I'm looking for something a bit different, but that won't break the bank. The wine staff very knowledgeable and make good suggestions within whatever budget you have.
The recently opened bistro shares the same space as the wine shop and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is obviously BYO, but they do charge corkage ($10 I think).
My first visit to the bistro was for a quick weeknight dinner. The menu is quite limited - basically 1 vegetarian, 1 pasta, 1 chicken and 1 lamb options - and consists of simple, hearty home made style dishes.
I chose the gnocchi with lamb ragu, described on the menu as housemade. I found it quite heavy and thought it tasted more like the industrialised, supermarket type than fresh, housemade gnocchi. On the other hand, ragu tasted really nice.
Hubby chose the Irish lamb stew. Although we didn't really like the look of the dish when it was served, it actually tasted really nice. The lamb and vegetables were very well cooked and the sauce was well seasoned.
Lamb was quite fatty though and should have been trimmed a bit more before it was plated. Going through the dish required a lot of work just to separate the meet from the fat.
It's hard to judge this place. It has the elements for a good little suburb restaurant, but it's definitely not there yet. Portion sizes were small for the price too. Service was good and the atmosphere is also good. I might give it a second chance in another few months' time to see how it goes. As the bistro currently stands, I'd stick with the wine shop and forget about the food.