Euro Blast: Bodies at rest tend to remain at rest, and mine is no exception. So whenever I get the urge to drive beyond the Broadway curve to Mesa, I generally lie down until the feeling passes. But a trip to Euro Cafe made me glad I fought through inertia. Run by a former employee of Nick Ligidakis, proprietor of Nick's Cuisine of Southern Europe, this Greek/Italian place is right on target for price, heft and taste. If this place had a motto, it would surely come from Oscar Wilde: "Nothing succeeds like excess!" Portions are mammoth. I innocently ordered spinach puffs as an appetizer, expecting dainty bits of spinach-packed phyllo dough. Instead, I got lumberjack-size squares that anyone else would have mistaken for a main dish.
Unless you're beginning a one-month fast the next day, you can safely skip the starters. That's because meals come with crusty, butter-soaked garlic rolls and an out-of-the-ordinary salad, fashioned with greens, olives, cucumbers, peppers and mushrooms, coated with a homemade feta salad dressing.
The main dishes, which fall in the $10 to $15 range, are staggering. Even I, with my highly honed professional belly, had to call for a Styrofoam container. Chicken palm, for example, features a whole breast sauted with expensive hearts of palm, artichokes and pecans, in a rich Dijon mustard sauce, all heaped over a mound of tagliatelle. Some people might be able to spread this out over three nights as dinner. The fact that it's scrumptious only adds to its appeal. In the mood for something lighter? Try the calzone, which looks like it needs its own moving van to get from the kitchen to your table. Since it takes about 40 minutes to prepare, health-conscious diners might profitably use the time to run a speedy 10K. Sweets come from Nick's, and they're Best of Phoenix quality. Try the white-chocolate pistachio cheesecake or the Final Addiction, a rich chestnut cake with coffee-laced white and dark chocolate. And Euro Cafe has recently added a bustling coffee house, making it a good late-night caffeine-and-dessert stop. Euro Cafe is plenty popular with East Valley folks. But why should they have all the fun? This place is unquestionably worth a drive. Euro Cafe is at 1111 South Longmore in Mesa. Call 962-4224. Smoking Deal: It had to happen--a coffee house that caters to cigar, cigarette and pipe smokers. Operating in suburban Seattle, Tinder Box International, a tobacconist specializing in premium smokes, has branched out into the gourmet-coffee cafe business. The company has partitioned off the rear of its new Tinder Box Gourmet Cafe with glass and installed a state-of-the-art ventilation system. The purpose: to give caffeine and nicotine addicts a place to indulge both of their vices simultaneously. Restaurant News, an industry trade paper, got the logic of the enterprise from the company president. "We're convinced that cigar and pipe smokers should not be treated like social lepers who have to sneak around through back alleys and side streets looking for a place to relax and enjoy a few moments of pleasure with a premium tobacco product." Could this enterprise work in the Valley? If you have curiosity and about $200,000, you could find out--the company is hoping to franchise the concept.--Howard Seftel
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