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E.U.

235 East 4th St., btwn. A & B Aves.
(212)254-2900
EU Website

TYPE: European gastropub
VIBE:
Rustic farmhouse meets brasserie
OCCASION:
Neighborhood nibbles or casual date
DON’T MISS DISH: Grilled octopus with chickpeas, tomato & preserved lemon
DON’T BOTHER DISH: Foie gras-stuffed quail
DRINK SPECIALTY: International beer & wine list
PRICE: $40 & up
INSIDE SCOOP: During daylight hours, E.U. will double as a greenmarket/deli (TBD)
HOURS: Dinner, Tue – Thu, 5:30 PM – 11:00 PM, Sat, 5:30 PM – 12 AM, Sun, 5:30 PM – 10 PM; Brunch, Sat. & Sun, 11 AM – 3:30 PM.  Closed on Mondays.
RESERVATIONS: Reservations accepted, recommended on weekends.
RESTAURANT GIRL RATES: N/A (Opening night for Chef Akhtar Nawab)
FINAL WORD
: With a menu that seems to span the global map, this European gastropub overextends itself.  Perhaps E.U. should hone in on what Akhtar Nawab does best and forsake the name for something Mediterranean.

Restaurant drama at its finest, the saga of E.U. continues: enter Ahktar Nawab, a prominent chef whose last role was chef de cuisine at Craftbar.  As Akhtar ambitiously outgrew Craftbar’s menu, Tom Colicchio and Akhtar Nawab parted ways.  After much anticipation for Akhtar’s next role as the chef of Allen & Delancey, a Mediterranean restaurant set to open on the Lower East Side, the venture came up $150,000 short, failing to come to fruition.

So Akhtar accepted the chef position at E.U., a bold move considering the dark cloud that looms over this ill-fated gastropub, owned by Jason Hennings (Diablo Royale) and Bob Giraldi.  Having suffered
delayed openings due to liquor license issues, a flood and
the curious departures of four chefs, E.U. has tragically become
theatrical fodder for the food world.  But I suppose if anyone could lift the curse from this spot, it would be an
up-and-coming chef who has managed to impress critics with his inspired cooking.

THE SETTING:
Designer AvroKo (Quality Meats & Stanton Social) has struck again with signatures of the exposed brick, bare bulb, & worn wood-beamed ceiling sorts.  The rustic accoutrements manage to evoke a cozy gastropub vibe.

THE SERVICE:
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.)

THE MENU:
E.U. (short for European Union) covers its
bases: charcuterie, a raw bar, tapas and dishes from Spain, Germany,
Austria, France, Italy, you get the picture.  From stuffed quail to
bauernwurst sausage to sardines a la plancha, this menu reads like a potluck dinner.  The latest rendition of the menu reflects a
notably scaled down selection of hearty fare (gone are the schnitzle
& cassoulet), perhaps an effort to accomodate their new,
Mediterranean-bent chef.


THE FARE:

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.

Until we eat again,
Restaurant Girl

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