WHILE the Kingston Foreshore is piping hot with development on the food, wine and coffee front, the main part of this historic part of Canberra is undergoing its own revitalisation.
And that takes me to European, under the helm of seasoned restaurateur Danny Tosolini, whose career in hospitality began many moons ago when he and his brother Carlo opened the café in the city bearing their last name, under the watchful eye of “Mama Tosolini”.
At one point, Danny moved to Sydney, but he is now back and – based on my food experiences at European to date – I wave my arms frantically in the air and yell: “This is a good thing”.
Yes, Italian-inspired dishes are on the menu, which is no surprise. But classic influences from other parts of Europe are too, combined with modern Australian fare.
European is where artespresso used to be but don’t expect “same, same”. I was bowled over at the complete makeover, which has given European its own true personality.
My dinner experience was a noisy one (full house, and our gang may have contributed to the volume levels). My lunch was less frantic with our group, out celebrating Christmas, nicely positioned on a balcony facing Giles Street. Although the lunch menu is quite small, we all found something our little hearts desired.
The dishes are lovingly prepared and high on taste. We shared a quality charcuterie of cured meats, pickles, olives with fennel and orange ($26) presented on a big wooden board perched on a tall stand. A great start.
Then it was off to the mains. Two of us ordered the chicken breast. I rarely do when dining out since I often find it comes dry, but when this dish came, with roasted meat, corn puree, asparagus and jus gras ($28), I was struck with a bad case of food envy. Two of our party ordered the grilled market fish fillet of the day and were enamoured with the creamy, tangy, tartare sauce, the crisp chips and the tender, tasty fish. My pappardelle, with succulent, slow-cooked lamb shoulder, tomato and my favourite spice in the whole world, saffron, was a big hit ($28). The only ho-hum dish was the Greek-style octopus salad. It just didn’t pack a punch on flavour ($21).
I was dead keen to try the European trifle for dessert ($15), but was convinced to share the cheese platter which certainly didn’t disappoint.
It hasn’t taken Danny long to pinpoint areas for improvement, which has included reprinting the menus on to a lighter coloured paper, making it easier to read. And check out the wine list – it features some big stars.
And as for the name? Is it the cuisine or that Kingston’s streets are named after Australia’s early European explorers?
European, 31 Giles Street. Brunch served on weekends. Call 6295 1515.