>The European

>The European is a bit of a Melbourne institution, and I’ve loved it ever since I lived here for six months way back in 1998. The long, darkly-lit, wooden interior reminds me of all the best Spanish, Italian and French bars I’ve eaten in, and it is a great antithesis to the classic Melbourne eateries we are used to.

So Mena and I found ourselves having breakfast there last Friday morning. It was an auspicious date: twenty-six years to the day since she and Lee left Ireland to travel to Australia, and the spring equinox to boot. We were on a bookstore crawl to celebrate Mena’s birthday the month before.

We sat in the back near the kitchen hatch, and settled in with two glasses of bone-dry champagne to get us in the mood. The staff are supremely professional, but started off a bit cold but perhaps it was just the time of day. They ended up being lovely.

My eggs benedict was divine, accompanied at my request with some grilled portobello mushrooms. Mena chanced the Croque Madame, worried that she might be disappointed, but she was also delighted. The champagne flowed, as did Mena’s long macchiatos and my Earl Grey tea. Our waiter complimented Mena on her “double-beveraging” when she ordered fresh coffee.

Almost two hours and almost a bottle of champagne later, we finally prised ourselves from our table to get on with the bookstore-crawling. We could have stayed there all day, chatting and nibbling. Why can’t we start the day with breakfast at the European every day?

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