Recession Relief: Sunday night dinner at Cafe Europa
I’m embarrassed to say that I hadn’t dined at Cafe Europa, the intimate little bistro at 323 E. 55th St. in Crestwood since it changed ownership in 2007. The venue is now operated by Andrew Atterbury and chef Nathan Feldmiller; in the afternoons, it’s still one of the busiest ladies-who-lunch spots in town, but the dinner crowd is a lot less genteel.
Even better: on Sunday nights, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Cafe Eupora is serving three-course traditional midwestern family-style dinners, including buttermilk-marinated fried chicken. The chicken dinners are a pretty terrific deal at $16 ($18 if you prefer all white meat) since the price includes a salad, the entree — with mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans stewed with bacon and onion, and a nice fat, flaky biscuit served with real butter — and the dessert du jour.
Last Sunday, I took advantage of the deal with my friends Pat and Julie. The small salads, splashed with a light Dijon vinaigrette, are excellent and the fried chicken, with a crunchy tempura-style coating, almost made me forget the exquisite bird at Stroud’s — still the ne plus ultra of pan-fried bird in Kansas City.
Since Julie ordered the fried chicken special (permitting me to take several bites, I’m grateful to say), I ordered the other poultry option: Amish-style roasted chicken ($16) which was very tasty, but compared to the fried chicken, nothing to crow about. Pat is a fan of Cafe Europa’s pan-roasted salmon ($20), so he ordered that — and although I find most salmon to be boring, this beautifully-prepared hunk of fish was first-rate. The other Sunday supper option is the $25 wood-fired Kobe steak.
The tiny dessert served as that night’s finale was an extremely pretty little ramekin of banana pudding, made with vanilla wafers — just like Grandma’s (not my grandmother, but apparently everyone else’s) — and topped with a delicate swirly cap of meringue.
Cafe Europa, small and tasteful, can’t compete with the more raucous ambiance of the new Stroud’s in Fairway, but it’s a delightful, comforting alternative. And the price is more than right.