Touch of Europe brings fond memories, fine food

There’s something cool about going to an underground restaurant or bar. Maybe it’s the lack of windows to the outside world, or the anticipation of whatever dimly-lit space exists at the end of your descent. There’s the nod to secrecy and intimacy; I dig it.

My first experience underground was sneaking into a jazz club in Phoenix while on a high school journalism trip (don’t tell my dad…or Mrs. Love). There was a jazz festival going on, and my friend Becca and I just wanted to go see this band, so we ‘found’ some admission bracelets, and went in. And while details are unimportant in this forum (and a little fuzzy after 16-plus years), I remember that experience fondly each time I walk down the steps to Touch of Europe.

Over the years, Megan and I have taken in bands, dropped down with friends for a Colorado Bulldog (don’t know exactly why, but it’s on the menu and has now sort of become a thing) and even celebrated an anniversary with dinner at Touch of Europe.

The food has always been good, and is unique for Sioux Falls: Polish, German, Ukrainian dishes are just some of the offerings. I love the Jagerschnitzel, a breaded scaloppine that’s a pork version of Wienerschnitzel, and Megan likes the Honey Rosemary Duck, which is really pretty tasty, if not a tad too sweet for me.

But it’s the brick, secluded atmosphere that I really love about ToE. Mixed with good food, good wine and good live music, the nooks and crannies are about as romantic a scene as you’ll find.

Unfortunately for us, we didn’t make reservations when we stopped by this weekend, so we ended up in the back room overflow seating area. Same great food, and immediate seating, but minus some of the great vibe.

But I tried something new this time and really loved it: the cabbage rolls. Fresh cabbage, stuffed with pork, rice, veggies and then topped with a creamy tomato ragu sauce. This was delicious. Briny cabbage and spicy pork and the sauce was great. Plus, the side of potato puffs (crisp, slightly charred, yet light) was verging on great, if only for a little more salt.

Foursquare told me it had been over a year since my last visit. Too long for sure. Next time I’ll make sure to remember the reservations so I don’t miss out on the ambiance. And the memories.