Portsmouth Virginia is home to one of the finest restaurants on the East Coast, Cafe Europa. Dining at Cafe Europa you get the feeling that you are dining at a French restaurant, but the truth is Chef Michael serves up French and Italian dishes, with a Mediterranean influence. Cafe Europa is a Bistro in the truest sense of the word. They are a small unpretentious restaurant that serves an international cuisine. To give you an impression of how good Cafe Europa is, people boating up and down the coast of Virginia, will turn up the Elizabeth River and dock in Portsmouth, just to have a meal there. This is saying something when they could just as easy dock on the other side of the river and eat at one of the many fine restaurants in Norfolk.
On this particular evening we were served up two outstanding appetizers Polenta Gorgonzola and Mussels Marinieres. My personal favorite is Cafe Europa’s Polenta Gorgonzola. The polenta is grilled and then rested on a rich and decadent Gorgonzola cheese sauce. This is a little slice of heaven and my favorite way to eat polenta.
The Mussels Marinieres is served in a white wine and butter herb sauce. The sauce is exquisite. Make sure you ask for extra bread to soak up the sauce. The Mussels Marinieres is not on the menu, it is usually offered as an appetizer special. On the menu they do offer a Mussels Provencal, the difference is it is served with a Pernod, tomato based sauce. Either appetizer will be a special treat.
Have you ever had veal that melts in your mouth? Whether you have or haven’t, Cafe Europa’s Hungarian Veal with Potato Noki was the star of the evening. The tomato-based sauce with it’s hint of paprika is Chef Michael’s way of paying homage to flavors of the Mediterranean. The sauce is a perfect accompaniment to the veal. I had to ask for another couple pieces of bread to lap up the sauce. The veal is so tender, it just melts in your mouth. I seriously considered asking for another order to go. This has to be the best veal I have ever had.
All of Cafe Europa’s desserts are made in house. As with the appetizers, every night the dessert menu changes. Talk about a challenge for the waitress, imagine having to memorize 16 or so desserts every night. You would be hard pressed not to find something you desire. Dessert this evening consisted of a slice of Apple Galette, pictured, and slice of Conversation Tart. The Conversation Tart is a puff pastry filled with an almond filling. I have tried my fair share of their desserts; I have never been disappointed.
Looking for an intimate evening out, or dining at a restaurant that leaves you feeling as if you just had a meal with old friends, Cafe Europa is definitely worth checking out. If you are in the Portsmouth or Norfolk Virginia area, call and reserve a table at Cafe Europa Bistro and Wine Bar. Have you been to Cafe Europa or have a favorite Bistro, share your comments below.