By: Natalie Grigg
Where can you go for a decadent dining experience that is sure to tempt your taste buds and make you want to return for more before you have even left? That would be Bistro Europa. Open for lunch and dinner all week long and on Sunday for brunch service from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Bistro Europa is located on the 500 block of Elmwood. Recently under new ownership, the eatery’s new found fans and regulars have learned to arrive early in order to insure themselves a seat at one of the intimate bistro’s handful of tables.
The menu at Bistro Europa can only be described as extraordinary. Yes, you will see breakfast classics such as housemade yogurt and granola ($6), a ham and cheese croissant ($7), and even Super Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes ($10), but the majority of the menu is a diverse and exotic compilation of tastes, textures, and offerings that I have not seen elsewhere. Such offerings include the Boar Meatball Sandwich, the Lobster Pancetta Lettuce and Tomato Roll ($16) and Rosemary Basted Eggs ($8).
Diners can also sample Europa’s housemade bacon, breakfast sausage, and corned beef hash. Even the brunch beverages available–which include a classic mimosa as well as “The Londoner”, a Bloody Geisha (a Bloody Mary with sake), a Mint Sherry Julep, a Black Velvet, and Sangria–are something to savor.
We arrived promptly at 11:30, and within half an hour, the Bistro’s interior and small outdoor patio were filled with customers coming to dine with family or meet friends in this quaint and eclectic restaurant. Our experience proved the service to be friendly, and the atmosphere is upbeat. The food? Well, that just puts it over the top.
I started my breakfast with the Grapefruit Brulee ($3). I was excited with the anticipation for the moment when the caramelized sugar would break under the tapping of my spoon, rendering its first delightful crack. After hearing the breaking of the golden sugar crust, I eagerly spooned into the grapefruit. The caramelized sugar was still warm, as was the top of the grapefruit, with the remainder of the fruit refreshingly cool. The tart, juicy fruit was a nice complement to the sweet, crunchy sugar crust dissolving in my mouth. I can only imagine that this would pair well with the yogurt and granola that is also on the menu, but I had bigger plans.
The Grand Slam was next up to bat (see lead image). This is a dish that I have been fantasizing about since I first saw it made at a Nickel City Chef competition I attended a few months back (see video below). It was my obsession for this dish that brought me here to begin with, though after tasting the other dishes that we ordered I can say that I fantasize about much more than just the Grand Slam now, but I digress. The Grand Slam is a tempura fried egg served with maple braised pork belly and truffled potato hash. The result? A culinary masterpiece designed to satisfy every edible craving you could ever have. Salty, sweet, crunchy, moist…you name it, this dish has it. But I should warn you, this is not for the faint of heart or those of you trying to watch your calories. Let’s start with the egg. Perfectly poached on the inside, then fried in a light tempura batter (resulting in a beautiful crust of golden brown), the completed egg which arrives on your plate is light and crunchy on the outside and moist and rich on the inside. Add the braised pork belly that is tender and slightly sweet from the maple syrup, and the truffle-scented potato hash, and you have a dish that is both satisfying and a delightful romp through flavors and textures. This dish was so good even my three-year old kept asking for more.
We also ordered the Lobster PLT and the Super Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes. Super fluffy, you ask? Absolutely. For those of you who have seen my prior articles, you’ve noted that my daughter loves pancakes, which results in me always writing about them, but these pancakes are by far some of the best I’ve had in all my days. “Fluffy” as a descriptor is an understatement. “Scrumptious cloud of blueberry-filled goodness” is more like it. You don’t even need the maple syrup that it is served with them since they are inherently sweet, but if you do choose to drizzle it over the hot stack, it just brings the pancake to a higher level.
And the Lobster PLT, I believe may be a newer addition to the menu, and one that should not be missed. Sweet lobster meat is served with homemade pancetta, tomatoes, and lettuce on a housemade split top New England-style roll, covered with a generous dose of chipotle aioli. Served with a side of greens, the Lobster PLT was refreshing and satisfying.
So, if you have an adventurous palate and are seeking a unique dining experience, Bistro Europa is the place for you. You can sit at the bar, at a cushion-lined banquette against the wall, or at one of the tables spaced throughout this quaint establishment. But no matter where you sit, as long as you are at Europa for brunch, Sunday can’t get any better.
484 Elmwood Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14222
Natalie Grigg is a mom, lawyer and avid eater.