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European Union - E.U.


adamru
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all I knew about european union was the history of its lack of a liquor license and how they've been so downtrodden about it the hostess stops you from entering until you fully understand you can't drink there and that despite the restaurant being always empty the staff is slow and unhelpful. still I wanted to see if the food stood a chance and ate there last night - we were one of four tables occupied - and it was good.

there was no hostess but a waiter did stop us and explain we could not be served nor bring our own bottle which we explained is why we drank before our arrival. we were allowed to sit wherever we wanted, the placemat was the menu - so I don't know how some people wrote in to eater noting they received no menu - and the staff was fast to make recommendations. when I think gastropub I think of the spotted pig but the look of the room (dark wood and an open front wall of windows) and the menu (split into snacks, appetizers and entrees) are both reminiscent of cookshop.

we ordered a small snack of fried fish and potato balls - starts with a B but I can't think of it - which came with a spicy cream sauce and citrus slices. our two appetizers were the gravlax plate, a cucumber salad cut in long narrow sticks and in a light spicy dressing and topped with salmon not too wet or pungent and with no lemon slice, and two toast points. we also had the tarte flambee with bacon and onions which is actually better than similar dishes at cookshop and 24 prince as it maintained a crispness as the other restaurants make it too soggy. our entrees were the lamb chops of which you get three, four to five bites each, served with a lamb's tongue salad which taste like dry leg of lamb and english peas and fingerling potatoes. the peas were great and it was nice to see the potatoes included as the dish needed a heartier accompaniment and they were not mentioned in the description of the dish. there are no side dishes available to order. we also had the fish and chips, a large very flat fried skate taking up 2/3 of the plate and topped inches high with crisp fries.

I heard they made non-alcoholic drinks but none were available. the dessert menu is limited to lemon curd crepes, panna cotta with an almond cookie and treacle with creme fraiche ice cream I think. it wasn't enough to keep us around. they could have made something chocolate. and there are about six snacks, and about eight appetizers and eight entrees to choose from. I'd think they could do more to get people to stop in for coffee and dessert. many people did leave once they walked in and were told there was no liquor license up front and I think if they were hungry, sat down to eat then learned that,they'd stick around. also two bathroom doors slide open and one opens in. they should put a sign on the sliding doors as all night long people thought they were occupied when they weren't.

overall, it was enjoyable but not worth trekking to 4th and B all the time to spend $86 with tax and tip for the five plates. it deserves a better location and deserves to give their customers a little more credit when they step in the door.

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  • 5 months later...

Stumbled in on a soft opening last Thursday. (Did they close temporarily? -liquor license issues?). Well, all seems in order. They offer an eclectic selection of beers (mostly German). I had a thick, black Scotish Ale....something Engine I think. Didn't see the wine list but noticed 7 or 8 btg. I think they had booze too.

Food exceeded expectations. Started with a sizable portion of chicken liver pate; super decadent, more foie like than chicken liver.....came w/toasted country bread and tiny grapes the size of capers (can't recall ever having these. Anyone know what they're called?. They'd be perfect w/cheese). Anyway they counterbalanced the richness of the pate perfectly. Next was a steak tartare topped with a zaballion egg yolk sc (I know I spelled that wrong). Meat was very fresh and had more of a tuna tartare consistency i.e. corse and chunky. It was simple and quite tasty on the plantain-like crackers. I liked that they didn't over season it like so many others I've had.

For mains, we both had a gourmet version of fish and chips (highly recommended by our waiter and justifiably so). If you relish an assortment this is a nice dish; jumbo shrimp, calamari, octopus, skate and maybe cod. Very lightly battered and not over fried. The pickled house tartar w/homemade relish was light and creamy without the usual mayonnaise bite......a perfect dip. The fries were a bit like diner steak fries only sliced thin. Interesting cut. They were fine.

We were pretty stuffed but were convinced to try the goat cheese-cheese cake with Sicilian pistachios over an olive oil gallette cookie and a side of mission figs. If you can get all the parts in one bite you've achieved something that is well worth the effort. This was one of the better desserts I've had in awhile.

Staff was eager and friendly, managers circulating and interacting with several tables. Our waiter was very knowledgeable (we grilled him on half the menu which isn't very self-explanatory).

Overall, a really nice experience......was a major bonus when they chopped the bill in half. :biggrin:

Edited by Eatmywords (log)

That wasn't chicken

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  • 2 months later...

This is the kind of ego-driven post that I suppose Eater disapproves of.

I happened to be in the East Village needing dinner on the night E.U. reopened (to the public) last week under Akhtar Nawab, whose work I enjoyed back at Craftbar.

I actually stopped by and looked in.

But then I thought to myself, "This is nuts. Given the history here, there's no way Chef Nawab's going to hit the ground running. I'd better give him some time to get settled before I check in." I'm looking forward to trying this place under this chef whose work I've liked, but since I pay for my dinners, I'm not going to throw money away just to be able to say I've been there.*

So, guess what I did? I walked over to Death & Co. -- only a few blocks away -- and met some friends for drinks and snacks.

I guess this disqualifies me from posting on a food board.

I'll post in a few weeks, after I've had a chance to sample the new iteration of E.U. under circumstances that seem more favorable (assuming Chef Nawab is still there in a few weeks).

Anyone been yet?

___________________________________________________

* Interestingly, Eater itself subsequently confirmed the wisdom of this decision: http://eater.com/archives/2007/01/eaters_journal_2.php. As did Restaurant Girl: http://www.restaurantgirl.com/restaurantgirl/2007/01/eu.html. I wonder whether they pay for their own dinners?

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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I walked in on Chefs first day, and they were having a cocktail party...I can't wait to try it soon though. I can't really imagine writing a cohesive review after just a few paltry weeks. I would however try it early....and get on the chefs good side :biggrin:

does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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This is the kind of ego-driven post that I suppose Eater disapproves of.

I happened to be in the East Village needing dinner on the night E.U. reopened (to the public) last week under Akhtar Nawab, whose work I enjoyed back at Craftbar.

I actually stopped by and looked in.

But then I thought to myself, "This is nuts.  Given the history here, there's no way Chef Nawab's going to hit the ground running.  I'd better give him some time to get settled before I check in."  I'm looking forward to trying this place under this chef whose work I've liked, but since I pay for my dinners, I'm not going to throw money away just to be able to say I've been there.*

So, guess what I did?  I walked over to Death & Co. -- only a few blocks away -- and met some friends for drinks and snacks.

I guess this disqualifies me from posting on a food board.

I'll post in a few weeks, after I've had a chance to sample the new iteration of E.U. under circumstances that seem more favorable (assuming Chef Nawab is still there in a few weeks).

Anyone been yet?

___________________________________________________

* Interestingly, Eater itself subsequently confirmed the wisdom of this decision:  http://eater.com/archives/2007/01/eaters_journal_2.php.  As did Restaurant Girl:  http://www.restaurantgirl.com/restaurantgirl/2007/01/eu.html.  I wonder whether they pay for their own dinners?

On the other hand, if they stagger the soft opening (as they did when I stumbled in upon arrival of the liquor license) now might be a good op to save some cash or get some freebies. Our chk was comped by 50% (for no good reason.....the meal and service were just fine) and they threw us a couple tastings (food).

Btw, kudos Sneak on the creation of this thread..........obviously a selfless-non-inflated-ego driven gesture. (How you restrained from mentioning Death & Co is a major achievement!)

Take note Eater! We're growing up over here! :biggrin:

That wasn't chicken

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  • 1 month later...

I stopped in for dinner at the bar a few nights ago.

I liked the food somewhat less than what Chef Nawab cooked at Craftbar.

It was all good, highly accomplished, but slightly boring. In other words, a classic neighborhood place, but not a destination.

I started with fried smelts. These were better cooked than what you'd get in the midwest, but, paradoxically, not as good. Maybe fried smelts are better when they're slightly greasy, a bit overbreaded, and left in the frier maybe a few seconds too long.

The chicken and dumplings entree, on the other hand, was very good. A strong recommendation. There's not much to say about chicken and dumplings, but this chicken was cooked almost perfectly: not overcooked by a nanonsecond. That isn't easy to do.

Good beer selection. Decent small wine selection.

Prices are moderate.

The bartender was extremely nice.

I doubt I'll be back. But if I lived down there, I'd be happy to have it around.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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Thinking it over, what's disappointing about EU is that, here, Chef Nawab is preparing what is essentially comfort food, whereas at Craftbar he was much more inventive.

It's surprising, because I thought that originally EU was supposed to be more a Craftbar type of place in terms of inventiveness of cuisine.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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Had dinner there the second week Chef Nawab took over.

I had a grilled octopus that was most likely the best I've ever had. Grilled swordfish that was so juicy and moist I thought it may have been marinated in a brine, serve with olives and preserved lemon.....it was excellent.

The only downfall I thought was the service. A little overbearing ond a bit too familiar.

If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding. How could you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat!??

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Other people who've eaten here have told me that I simply ordered wrong.

I guess I'll have to give it another shot.  Given my previous good experiences with Chef Nawab, it seems like a good idea.

I understand the idea that a restaurant might do some things better than others, but EU has a pretty limited menu for there to be potential for "ordering wrong." FWIW, I also had a pretty forgettable meal there recently where I shared the escarole and treviso salad (an unremarkable blue cheese and apple salad), the poached halibut with endive, hen of the woods and pistachios (good flavors but a very small piece of fish that would have left most people starving) and baked rigatoni with milk-braised berkshire pork, cavalo nero and lemon (awful flavors and went totally unfinished). Despite terrible weather and a mostly empty restaurant, we were edged in against another table. Our wines were not as described.

I desperately want this restaurant to be better than it has been on my two trips. It's a nice interior and an area that I eat in regularly. It's really close to Death & Company. I loved Nawab's food at Craftbar. I'm sure I'll give it another try, but I wish they were letting Nawab design the menu himself, because the entire concept seems inexplicable to me. Is it supposed to be quintessential dishes of different countries in the European Union? Pan European food? Things that could not be termed Asian? They seem to use local ingredients for everything, and advertise them as such.

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  • 2 weeks later...

They deserve at least a star.

Went there a few wks ago. Some of the best sweetbreads I've ever had. Healthy portions (not chopped up as often the case), very-moist, rich, expertly sauteed to a light crisp, topped w/a brandy cream sc surrounded by baby market root veggies. Insane. Grilled Octopus with chick peas and tomato was also a stand out. Thick, simply marinated tentacles grilled just right leaving a very moist but not rubbery center. Entrees were also solid. Veal Cheeks im a simple demi were fork tender. My girl had a red snapper with Asian spice and marinad and it was also perfect. This place is no joke.

I liked it before Nawab arrived......and now its even better

That wasn't chicken

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  • 4 months later...

due to the much lauded Il Posto Accanto being closed...I stumbled in here last night.

at one level its a lot like the various bistro-esque restaurants that have been in the far reaches of the EV for years....Casimir, 26 Seats, Flea Market. the menu is similar, the AvroK design is not. of course, the dishes at E.U. are far more elegantly composed (and expensive) than those places...but the proteins are similar. the differences are in the accompaniments...which are polished and well-executed. its sort of the restaurant Uovo was trying to be...except E.U. is better capitalized.

the one remarkable dish was the grilled octopus....yeah, it came with preserved lemon and terrific greenmarket tomatoes...but those were unnecessary. unlike 95% of the octopus served in this city..it was neither chewy nor rubbery...and aggressively seasoned....reminded me a lot of the octopus at Sabry in Astoria.

this kitchen's relaxed and lazy...if it can cook octopus like that...it can stretch a lot more.

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