I was delighted when Andy Atterbury and Gwyn Prentice took over Cafe Europa in the Crestwood shops last year. I love the location, and was excited to see what their chef Nathan Feldmiller would do with the menu. He had turned heads with Circe on 39th St., so I had high hopes.
The restaurant is off to a great start, and it may be the quintessential neighborhood cafe, but I don’t think it’s reached its potential. Since it’s crowded at all hours, I may be in the minority, but I’d like to see the menu reflect the same level of creativity that Feldmiller displayed at Circe. He’s shown flashes of it-carrot sauce and ginger relish on the roast salmon, for example, but most dishes are designed to satisfy not thrill. Comfort food is the thing here–Berkshire pork with farmer’s cheese mashed potatoes, duck with french lentils, roast chicken with mashed potatoes, scallops with risotto. These dishes are largely successful, as are the basic salads and sandwiches at lunch. But here again, it would be fun to see him elevate his game. As at dinner, everything is well-executed, but the standout? Definitely the French fries. I really think these are the best in town, or at least in the top three. Perfectly crisp, skins on, not too thick not too thin. I have been known to devour a bowl as my meal!
The pizza is the thin variety–our Margherita had generous portion of basil and mozzarella. But be sure to ask for it well done so it’s a bit charred. The bread is made in the same oven and is excellent. Buy a loaf to take home–Several varieties are sold every day in the front room bakery, along with cookies, pies and cupcakes.
Europa has quickly established itself as a player on the restaurant scene, and Dan Weber, formerly at Lidia’s was recently hired to be the new GM. Now it’s time to let Feldmiller’s talents shine.