While E.U. had reopened some weeks ago, it felt more like opening night as servers kept bobbling our order. On a more personal note – why must servers prematurely snatch up wine glasses with a full-fledged last slip left in the glass? (I’m just putting it out there.)
Without further ado, let’s get down to the European-inflected gastropub grub. As far as appetizers go, there was the very
good, the bad and the ugly. First, the good: the grilled octopus a la plancha paid superior homage to Spain. Terrifically charred on the outside, sweet & supple within, the octopus was delectably brightened with paper-thin slices of preserved lemon, orange, roasted tomatoes & springy chickpeas.
The bad: a traditional French pate of duck, chicken liver & foie gras, came topped with a foie gras fat seal, laced with quince paste. Though the seal itself was firm and rich, what lay beneath tasted overly dense and oddly bland.
And then, there was the ugly: while the foie gras-stuffed quail
with blood orange sounded decadently delicious, it practically walked over to the table on its own. I’m extremely partial to rare preparations, but this rubbery-skinned fowl was sorely undercooked to the point of no return. My eating partner and I simultaneously recoiled from the fear-inducing dish, returning back to the near-perfect octopus. I couldn’t help but wonder – how could these two dishes possibly come from the same kitchen?
Most gastropubs rely on savory comfort food dishes, like short ribs. E.U. serves a crispy version coated in brioche bread crumbs, an apparently French preparation hailing from the city of Toulouse. After one bite, I concluded that short ribs are better left unbreaded. The mushy bread coating suffocated what could’ve potentially been fall-off-the-bone meat, obscurely paired with fingerling potatoes and a dollop of horseradish-spiked creme fraiche.
Next, wildly intense and nutty bluefoot chanterelles stole the limelight from a functional pan-roasted halibut with a sprinkling of pistachios, served with a cider pistachio vinaigrette. I finished with a flavorful side of braised cabbage and earthy chestnuts.
In an effort to cover the entire European Union, this restaurant offers a smattering of international fare, yet fails to excel at any one cuisine, resulting in a flurry of random and inconsistent dishes. But with one standout – a house-made pretzel with bauernwurst sausage – already garnering a loyal following, not to mention the distinguished octopus, let’s hope that E.U. can work out the kinks.