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Note: This is a Just a Taste review, which the Express-News does soon after a restaurant or bar opens to give our first impressions.
Europa Restaurant & Bar, like its name implies, cooks the food of Greece, Italy, Germany, Spain, Bulgaria — everyone is welcome at this table in the South Texas Medical Center.
The newcomer opened in December in a corner of San Antonio already rich with international fare. No expense appears to have been spared in decking out Europa’s interior, a swanky modern space with clean lines, textured wall panels and plenty of glowing blue lights.
While Europa’s ambitions appear grand, the restaurant faces the same challenge most places with multiple international allegiances face: Diplomacy is all about compromise, and concessions will be made. At Europa and other restaurants like it, that means plucking the low-hanging fruit from each country’s cuisine without adding anything new to our understanding of the place.
On the menu: Europa’s expansive menu taps the culinary traditions of about a dozen countries across Europe, with mixed success. Greek Zucchini ($8) is little more than a battered and fried bar snack with a token side of tzatziki sauce to dip the crispy sticks in.
Same goes for Sicilian Calamari ($12), a familiar tangle of breaded squid rings. Both were well prepared, but didn’t feel like a passport stamp.
France gets a favorable nod in Chicken Chasseur ($15.50), a savory heap of tender poultry slices dressed in a creamy white wine sauce studded with mushrooms. There’s nothing particularly Scandinavian about the Norwegian Cod ($15.50), but it’s still an enjoyable plate of delicate fish dressed with olives, capers, tomatoes and arugula.
Europa’s bar makes a respectable French 75 ($7.75) and an entertaining carajillo ($9), a pour of Licor 43 ignited tableside and tipped into espresso. The EuropaRita ($9.50) was a version of an Italian-style margarita made with a splash of amaretto, but the results were far too sweet.
Europa is most interesting when it shines a light on the Balkan Peninsula, and those dishes make the restaurant worth considering for a night out.
Shopska Salad ($7.50) is a good place to start. It’s a refreshing melange of tomato, red onion, cucumber and feta cheese mirroring the red, green and white of Bulgaria’s flag. Bulgarian Kebapche ($12) was also a delight, juicy and well-spiced ground pork and beef shaped into cylinders and grilled, served with a peppery smear of sauce on the plate.
Location: 8811 Fredericksburg Road, 210-558-3323, europarestaurantandbar.com, Facebook: Europa Restaurant & Bar
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
Paul Stephen is a food and drink reporter and restaurant critic in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | email@example.com | Twitter: @pjbites | Instagram: @pjstephen