An all-day diner and a Melbourne institution, the European has been welcoming patrons for just on fifteen years. If you can't physically get to the continent of its attribution, then this is your next best bet. No questions asked. There's only a few hours of the day when the venue isn't bustling. It's a good thing when an icon cannot rest.
Situated opposite Parliament House at the top of Spring Street, every visit to the European will transport you to the old-world romanticism of Europe. It's a place of instant pleasure, where the scuffed floors, chipped wooden panelling and dim lighting are all a part of the charm. Be sure to make it your mission to get there even on a glum Melbourne afternoon, when its appeal suddenly becomes all the more glamourous.
Regardless of the time of day, the menu brings the traditions of France, Italy and Spain to the table in an articulate, thoughtful and proud selection of dishes. It's honest fare without the presence of trends or fads. From 7.30am until very late, take your pick: a continental breakfast ($18.50), seasonal mushroom risotto with truffle oil ($21.50) or lamb saddle, braised belly, sweetbreads and gnocchi ($39.50) are all at your calling.
Legend has it that the European's tiramisu ($12) posits a cult following so strong that it will be never, ever be removed from the menu due to the fear of the backlash that might ensue. Be sure to wash this one down with a strong, bold coffee ($3.50). If you can resist, the chocolate salty caramel, peanuts and sour cream ice-cream ($14.50) is indulgence executed with absolute perfection.
The European's calling is clearly in its longevity. Alongside other city favourites it resonates in its ability to welcome and to remain authentic in its offering. It's a cultural institution that is worth as many visits as a lifetime can suffice.