Perched on Spring St., opposite Parliament House between Bourke & Lonsdale is a beautiful assortment of old world inspired bars and restaurants. One of the best known being The European which seems to be permanently ensconced in Melbourne's canon of good restaurants.
Not exclusively Italian, Greek, French, Spanish or German, The European is a fusion of food and wine elements distilled from throughout Continental Europe. The cozy, wood paneled décor is evocative of an up market, family run bistro in the back streets of a Parisian arrondissement. Its quixotic atmosphere is the perfect accompaniment for dishes that include black pudding, foie gras, jamon and the plethora of gamey meats such as duck and rabbit that one associates with Europe. As a vegetarian I'd long avoided this restaurant thinking it wouldn't have much for me. However there are several real options for vegetarians (although not much for vegans) made and presented with the same attention to detail that has become synonymous with this restaurant.
If you walk past and see a table near the window, then do yourself a favour and pop in for a coffee and some of the lovely cakes and tarts made on the premises. Brunch at The European is an excellent accompaniment to a walk through the beautiful Exhibition Gardens and some window-shopping in Fitzroy's Gertrude, Brunswick or Smith Streets. Dinner or lunch are a fantastic way to punctuate a show at the Princess Theatre. And, being open until 3am, The European is also an ideal spot for "one for the road" after a great night out in town.