We enter The Marc during the lunch rush, and nearly every table is packed. It’s like a bistro in France with excellent, prompt service and unique menu options such as the smoked salmon potato salad. No one would confuse this meal for a side dish, not with the generous portions of smoked salmon that go so well with the creamy potatoes with dill and large ribbons of pickled cucumber. But it’s not the only dish on the menu that has classic French influences with original twists. The braised lamb sandwich sees mint aioli, grilled zucchini, tomato confit and caramelized onions paired with the white-wine infused meat. And, for an interesting sandwich, there’s the mushrooms on toast with thyme and shallots. Our server is friendly and knowledgeable of the menu, pointing out the daily fish – mahi mahi today – and omelette specials and highly recommending the steak. We’re in and out within 40 minutes, which is impressive considering the large number of people still in the dining room. -Caroline Barlott
Growing up in a household with a strong “Mitteleuropa” heritage, a night out for a schnitzel dinner with sweet red cabbage was about as good as it could get. So, there’s something incredibly comforting and Old World about Bistro Praha. And while the generous and perfectly cooked Wiener schnitzel is the go-to dish, there are plenty of other Central and Eastern European delicacies that are worth a try. The bone-in pork hock, with a nice Czech pilsener on the side, is a fantastic comfort food and drink combination. For anyone who’s ever spent time in Prague or Vienna or Budapest, a visit to Bistro Praha will bring back fond memories. -Steven Sandor 10117 101 St., 780-424-4218,bistropraha.com
Honourable Mention: ACCENT LOUNGE
This Whyte Avenue-adjacent lounge is cozy, crowded, loud and buzzing with energy and passionate conversations – just like you might find in a European bistro. Friends argue animatedly over steak tartare, filet mignon and Wiener schnitzel, while sipping wine from all over the world. The vino list contains wines from California, Argentina, Chile, France, New Zealand, Italy, Spain and British Columbia. The maple Dijon salmon is exquisite – a substantial, perfectly cooked filet of fresh fish accompanied by vegetables and starch. The maple Dijon sauce is subtle but savoury and enhances every flaky bite. The service is friendly and informal but retains European efficiency. -Sydnee Bryant 8223 104 St., 780-431-0179,accentlounge.com
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