A continent with ancient history and rich culture, Europe is also one of the greatest culinary canvasses in the world today, reflecting different styles of cooking from many individual countries and flavours.
Modern European food has seen a marked shift towards a more relaxed and less specific attitude to ingredient selection and preparation; while the adoption of the Mediterranean diet – involving lots of grilling, roasting, olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs – has become the most obvious characteristic of this style of cooking.
These influences have made the journey to the Southern Hemisphere and are evident in European flavours to savour on plates from Sydney to Perth. Let’s take a journey around the country and taste test some of the dishes available in restaurants delivering European fare…
A rustic pub experience is on the menu at The Ranges Hotel on Main Street in Gembrook. This local watering hole in rural Victoria, has recently undergone an impressive renovation, tying in hints of its original persona with a modern day feel from the post and rail fenced front deck to polished timber floors and ambient pendent lights indoors. Enjoy an icy cold afternoon beer on the deck, or head inside and peruse a Mod Oz menu dishing up options such as housemade pork sausages, mashed potato and caramelised onions.
Those with hearty appetites may opt for wattle glazed lamb shoulder, baby vegetables and burghul wheat, or perhaps a 350 g Scotch fillet steak, garden salad, chips and Shiraz sauce; leaving room for a classic dessert of bread and butter pudding and housemade spiced rum vanilla custard.
Take to the rolling hills and vineyard views at The Dining Room at Lindenderry Red Hill and escape the hustle and bustle of Melbourne city. After exploring the sights and sounds of the Mornington Peninsula, visit this sought after award-winning restaurant and recline in a contemporary dining space, styled with a Scandinavian interior of washed greys, earthy browns, blond wood furniture and an open fire place.
Expect a modern menu of elegantly plated offerings such as steak tartare, charcoal aioli, puffed tendon and sourdough to start, then be tempted by Western plains lamb noisette, garden silver beet, garlic puree, cherry tomatoes and capers. For the sweet tooth, decadent desserts such as chocolate parfait, dacquoise sponge, muscatels and Japanese whiskey ice cream are sure to hit the spot.
South Australian Soiree:
Radiating a warm and welcoming ambiance, The Rising Sun Hotel has become a staple on the Auburn dining scene since opening in the late 1800s. Found along Main North Road, this pub boasts dark carpeted flooring, wooden fittings, a neutral cream palette and wide arched doorways, preserving the building’s rich heritage. Combining a selection of contemporary and innovative seasonal dishes, alongside traditional pub and bar favourites, the menu has something to suite all tastes.
Kick things off with a shared plate of buffalo chicken wings, coated in housemade smoky barbeque sauce and topped with dried onion; moving on to chicken, leek and mushroom pie, served with a stack of sweet potato, zucchini and spinach with a mustard cream sauce. Burger lovers can chow down on a 250 g beef patty, tomato, lettuce, bacon, cheese, pickles, egg, fried onions and tomato relish on a brioche bun, with a side of chunky chips.
Bringing vibrancy and Russian heritage to Adelaide city laneways, Red October is where to meet for after-work socialism. An indoor ambiance of stonework, concrete and timber give this thoughtfully restored 1890s venue a chic, cool vibe, where guests can perch on a stool at the bar, under the moody vibe of pendent lights and order a cocktail like USSSour with rum, sea buckthorn and Grenache.
Perhaps start a Russian adventure with salted herring in oil with Borodinsky bread, or khinkali – potato, cheese and chive dumplings; then savour seared scallops with fermented beetroot, watermelon radish, verjuice and pork crackling. Meat lovers will salivate over ajika pork, caramelised turnip, fennel and herbs, or sirloin on the bone, charred cos and truffled heirloom carrots; teamed with a glass of Russian Wolf’s Brewery wheat ale Blanche de Mazai.
Now for NSW:
Bringing a slice of Paris to Rosebery, Frenchies Bistro and Brewery on Mentmore Avenue puts French bistronomy on the plate and in the glass. This elegantly dressed restaurant combines rich ruby walls and simplistic blond furniture to exude a warm, relaxed ambiance, where the best meal is one shared - the philosophy behind ‘the table’, designed for up to 20 guests to gather and sample a specially designed degustation menu.
Begin a Gallic taste adventure with Yamba sardines, cucumber, kibbeh and avocado; then delve into the likes of suckling pig, kale, confit kipfler potatoes, roasted cauliflower, steamed corn and a mirin sesame jus, or veal sweetbreads served with roasted Israeli couscous and eggplant celeriac. Sugar plum, frangipane tart with mascarpone appeals for a sweet finish.
Hunter Valley visitors and locals alike are drawn to Margan Restaurant on Milbrodale Road in Broke, for contemporary fine dining in a tranquil, rural setting. Wind down in classical surrounds inside, with white tablecloths and fine cutlery, or dine alfresco on the verandah and take in breathtaking views of lush vineyards and the Brokenback Range. With all ingredients grown on site or within a short distance of this award-winning restaurant, Margan’s menu reflects local and seasonal produce with a Mediterranean twist.
Team a plate of Ranger’s Valley beef rump cap, celeriac, kohlrabi and spinach, with a glass of Margan Breaking Ground Tempranillo Graciano Shiraz; or perhaps Little Hill Farm chicken, Brussel sprouts, pancetta, parsnip and crispy chicken skin, with Margan White Label Barbera 2015.
Plates of European gastronomic delights, artistically crafted from fresh local produce, greet diners at Oak Room Eleven on Willowvale Road in Gerringong. Nestling in Crooked River Wines Estate, with a panoramic view of thriving vines, enjoy culinary refinement in a charming, warm ambiance ideal for special occasions and group gatherings, just minutes from picturesque, south coast beaches.
Yellow fin tuna, Tuscan stemperata and smoked aubergine puree may entice as a starting point; followed by Black Angus eye fillet, nasturtium puree, skordolia mash, roasted bone marrow and red wine jus, finishing with a decadent dark chocolate soufflé with salted caramel, bitter berries and clementine cream. Pair an artisan cheese board with Crooked River croutons and olives, with a glass of estate wine.
Choose to dine in style worthy of dignitaries at suave lounge bar and restaurant Soiree, located in the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth hotel on Phillip Street. Relax at leisure among warm hues, sharing intimate space beneath grand brass lightshades and enjoy a sumptuous pre-dinner cocktail, wine or spirit from around the world, before browsing over fine food inspired by traditional French gastronomique.
French onion soup with gruyere and crusty baguette is an ideal starting point for a culinary journey through a menu boasting mains such as slow braised lamb shank, honey, thyme, garlic, rosemary and kipfler potatoes; or chicken and mushroom pie, mash, jus and oak leaf lettuce. Tahitian vanilla bean crème brulee with a puff pastry twist tempts as a dessert to complete a memorable meal.
Bordering the line between smart and casual, stylish Terrace Restaurant brings a wealth of warmth to the Snowy Mountains. Sitting pretty within The Denham Hotel on Diggins Terrace in Thredbo, candle topped tables, dark furnishings and floor to ceiling glass windows overlooking sensational snowcapped peaks, await diners as they contemplate and internationally inspired menu.
Indulge the tastebuds with an entrée of beef cheek ravioli, onion soubise and red wine jus, or crispy skin pork belly, strawberry pickled rhubarb, celeriac puree and shredded apple salad; before delving into Snowy Mountains trout fillets, pomegranate, apple, kale, mint and ancient grains. Pasta lovers can twirl a fork around roast pumpkin tagliatelle with hazelnuts, goats cheese and sage.
Dine in a striking heritage listed sandstone cottage in the Southern Highlands at Eshalot on Old Hume Highway in Berrima. Embodying classic refined style with white tablecloths, chandeliers and draped curtains combining to infuse elegance throughout, cosy up fireside during cooler months at this award-winning venue or on balmier days, sit by a sunny window overlooking the garden and courtyard.
A seasonal European inspired menu plates up entrée offerings such as rabbit terrine, celeriac, apple and radish and rhubarb chutney, or beef tartare, truffled quail egg and crostini; while main temptations may include Thirlmere Duck leg confit, roasted breast, golden beetroot, orange and crispy grains. Indulge sweet cravings with desserts like white chocolate mousse, glazed fig and Valencia orange.
Canberra’s vibrant Pialligo Plant Farm gardens play host to hidden culinary gem Pod Food on Beltana Road. After strolling through the greenery, take a seat on the terrace of this 1930s restored weatherboard cottage, stylishly fitted out with wood furnishings and modern art, setting the scene for a warm and refined dining experience. An innovative European-style menu bursts with modern and seasonal flavours, evident in dishes like venison with radish, goats cheese, grapefruit and beetroot; or Fremantle octopus, pickled cucumber, grape and labneh.
For the main affair, perhaps opt for charred beef rump with mushroom, salsa and Japanese eggplant; while dessert presents plates such as cinnamon doughnuts with rhubarb jam and macadamia ice cream. Those finding it difficult to choose may opt for a tasting menu, with matched wine and an optional additional cheese course.
European inspired creative dishes are showcased through an a la carte and five course tasting menu at Videre on Ross Street in Benowa. Situated on Level 21 of RACV’s Royal Pines Resort, this award-winning venue takes dining on the Gold Coast to new heights with spectacular views of the hinterland’s lush terrain, the internationally known golf fairway and Surfers Paradise skyline.
Matched by complementary wines from an extensive selection, take to the first hole with an entrée of marinated tuna, black sesame, radish, crème fraiche and roast chicken dashi; before scoring a hole in one with a main of pan roasted lamb loin, snow pea tendril pesto, green pea and feta salad and lamb jus. Seafood lovers may be tempted by lemon poached snapper, heirloom tomatoes, confit kipfler potatoes and sauce antiboise.
Still looking for the ideal European restaurant near you? Click here for more establishments to check out.