Restaurant Review: L’Europe Restaurant

World-class cuisine and a few faux pas

An exquisite Jewel in south salem’s crown

World-class cuisine and a few faux pas

 

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Sometimes when exploring a restaurant, it’s handy to have as a guide someone who has been a “regular” there for years, and who not only adores its virtues, but also knows its imperfections. For L’Europe in South Salem, I had two such guides.

 

On my first trip, I brought the Supermodel. I had been trying to lure her to dinner for a year, to no avail, until she leaped hungrily at a chance to dine at L’Europe. Her counsel on food is not to be taken lightly; she learned to cook in France.

 

“There is one thing wrong with L’Europe,” she warned me in advance, “and I’ll expect you to find out.” Well, it turns out that there are two glaring shortcomings, in a glittering diadem of otherwise superb food and service.

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The first came to light the moment we contemplated a pre-dinner drink. We waved aside the wine list to sip by the glass. “I always drink their Champagne,” purred the Supermodel, “because their wine-by-the-glass selection is awful.” And it is, alas, pretty bad, with the waiters sharing a surprising lack of knowledge (for a haute cuisine restaurant) of the wine they poured.

 

The second flaw was the bread. “It tastes like frozen to me,” she whispered: It did, which was, a shame since it was accompanied by delicious tomato-and-herb butters.

 

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From those inauspicious beginnings, however, our evening improved dramatically. I began with a Senegalese soup, one of my favorites, a curry soup with chicken and  apples,  as superb as any version of it I have had anywhere. After her gravlax appetizer (“Wonderful!”), the Supermodel selected the lobster and sea scallops in a lobster sauce over fettuccine (“The claws were soft, but the tail a bit chewy”), accompanied by cauliflower and broccoli (“Strange combination, but it works”). I chose a chicken in red wine sauce accompanied by spaetzle—again as good as any in memory.

 

We passed on the dessert soufflés, which have to be ordered in advance. Instead I chose luscious fresh strawberries in a bavaroise sauce, while she ordered and then rhapsodized about a white and dark chocolate mousse with a garnish of red currants, raspberries and mint.

On my second trip, I brought along the Wine Maven. After examining the bottles of wine in the racks scattered around the dining room, he announced that they included near-priceless vintages, such as a Duhart-Milon-Rothschild from Bordeaux. We concurred that L’Europe has an outstanding wine list, ranging from an inexpensive Macon Village to some exceptional, if overpriced, French vintages.

 

Once again, the soups were ambrosian. My guest savored a billi bi mussel soup, while I had a delicious lobster bisque. The Maven’s main course was an unusual combination of grilled salmon layered over poached sea bass that, surprisingly, worked. 

 

The chef, as the owners explained to me on a second visit, is an American. So let’s see: French food and wine, Albanian owner and maitre d’ and an American chef? It’s like the salmon layered over sea bass, or the lobster with cauliflower; unusual combinations, with delightful results.

 

L’EUROPE RESTAURANT

407 Smith Ridge Road, South Salem

(914) 533-2570

 

HOURS:

Lunch,  Wed. to Sat. 12-2:30 pm

inner, Wed. to Sat. 6-9:30 pm, Sun. 3-8 pm

Brunch, Sun. 12-2:30 pm

 

Appetizers: $12.50-$15.50

Entrées: $23-$35

Desserts: $9

Desserts: $9

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