On the hunt for a "delicious" meal one windy, cold, and sleepy Sunday noon. Meant to visit L'espresso again, but decided to try something new.
Location: 411 Sturt St, Ballarat - see map. It's right next to the last cafe I visited!
Website: official website (informative), urbanspoon reviews (also has opening times), tripadvisor reviews, delicious looking photos from another blogger's breakfast
Price: ~$15 for breakfast and lunch mains, ~$20 to $30 for dinner mains, full menu is available on the cafe website
Egyptian salad - "mixed salad with falafel, selection of dips, olives, pine nuts and pita bread". What a colourful and exciting looking dish! The selection of dips were mashed pumpkin, beetroot (with olive oil and vinegar), and tzaziki - an interesting range of accompaniments. Pita bread with these dips was pleasant, but not amazing. Falafels were tasty, full of spices and warm. It was fun to think of different combinations to mix the bread/salad/dips, and exciting to hunt for roasted pinenuts in the salad. In the end the pita bread was surprisingly filling, but... I would have liked to have had more falafels - there were only really two served with this dish (cut into halves)!
Puttanesca - "spaghettini served with a sauce of tomato, olives, capers, chili, garlic, and anchovies". I felt that the two slices of fresh bread was random - would have been nice if that was replaced with a larger bowl of the spaghetti (or spaghettini as they call it). Great balance of flavour - could really taste the sweet and sourness of the fresh tomatoes, the spiciness of chili, a good dose of olive flavour. I ate an olive and it was actually nice (I don't like olives). Personally though, I prefer pasta with more ingredients eg. with seafood, or meat. Having pasta and a sauce in itself doesn't feel like a complete meal.
Other: similar to L'espresso, Europa Cafe has indoor and outdoor seating. But indoors is much more comfortable on a freezing day, and the only people I saw outside were those who wanted to have a smoke with their meal. Indoors was furnitured with wooden chairs and tables, in a spacious and well lit arrangement. Whilst the atmosphere is comfortable, it feels generic and reminds me of the layout of La Porchetta down the road.
Rating: 3.5/5 we felt ~$17 was a lot to pay for each of the dishes we ordered, considering the nature of the ingredients. However, the menu does offers a large variety of meals some of which are generic, and some which are unique. I would be happy to revisit, perhaps some of these other dishes would have been more amazing, or greater value for money. Overall, good but not great - we didn't find our "delicious" lunch, but cafe outings are always lovely with lovely company!