A First on the First.

A First on the First.
A First on the First.
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On November 1, we visited European Taste for some culinary firsts. It’s tucked into a West Patterson Avenue strip mall near Pump Road, a hole in the wall with florescent lighting and a boom box that was playing Toto’s Africa when we arrived. A tall, smiling, gregarious Hungarian man, Ligia, welcomed us. He and his wife, Adrian, who are from Transylvania, opened the restaurant about a year ago, offering, well, a taste of Europe. After he explained the menu (with dishes from Romania, Hungary, Greece and Italy), he brought two glasses of Hungarian wine, ever so slightly effervescent and more obviously merlot-y ($5.50).

 

Ligia delivered a couple of fresh, warm yeasty rolls with whipped butter, as we began looking over all of our starter options: spanakopita, something called Langosh (a fried bread stuffed with feta), soup with farina dumplings and various salads. We settled on a traditional Greek salad with olives and feta ($5.50) and a garlic cream soup ($3.99). Though the salad came with a ramekin filled with what appeared to be dressing of the Wishbone variety, the salad was crunchy, salty, fresh and satisfying. The soup was really wonderful, creamy yet light, with a hint of citrus and a subtle garlic presence – just a tap on the shoulder, all topped with chives and croutons. I plan to attempt a re-create it very soon.

 

entre

We decided to skip the entrees from Greece and Italy, and even the ‘European Tortillas’, and settled on food from their native Romania. Mici ($9.50) is a rich, savory Transylvanian sausage, which has beef, pork and spices with a little baking powder to make it surprisingly light and airy. It’s served with a dollop of spicy mustard. A second entree was Sarmale ($9.50), cabbage leaves stuffed with rice, beef and pork. The meat-to-rice ratio was very nicely a little meat heavy. The al dente quality coupled with the subtle vinegar in the cabbage cut through the unctuous meat with a nice bite. Entrees are served with your choice of mashed potatoes, veggies, rice or potatoes natur (boiled potatoes with oil and chives). Being a potato lover, I give their mashed potatoes a standing ovation; devilishly creamy (a ricer must have been used), buttery, salty and quite impossible to stop eating.

 

As we progressed through our meal, three of the remaining four tables filled and Ligia attended to everyone as though they were the only table in the house. His wife, Adrian, periodically popped out of the kitchen to check in on everyone. As Rod Stewart crooned from the boom box, we labored over the desserts, which are clearly a focus: baklavas, strudels, cakes, cookies and truffles fill their pastry case. Alas, we were stuffed and decided not. After Adrian packed up our leftovers, and even threw in a full container of the garlic cream soup for us to take home, she included a little sample of pastries and in her thick Transylvanian accent, with a smile to match her husband’s, said, “You can’t leave without something sweet.”

 

dessert

I’m fairly certain this was my first Romanian cuisine and certainly my first Transylvania-specific food. I will have to return – especially during the cold months ahead – to try that goulash. And with Adrian and Ligia running the show, you don’t even have to order dessert to experience something sweet.

 

European Taste, 10604 Patterson Ave, 741-1638

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