Cucina Bistro

I’ve always enjoyed the elevated bistro food at Cucina, and was looking forward to lunch there recently after a little time away – and it was just how I remembered! Two of us shared appies between us and it was more than adequate. We were intrigued by the accompanying duo of dips that come with the buttermilk marinated calamari and just had to try them: fennel orange sambal, and tahini coriander, and they certainly didn’t disappoint! The House Cured Salmon Gravlax was a beautiful plate too, dressed with dill creme fraiche, compressed apple, radish and pea shoots, and caper berries – we just about inhaled it!

Fried Calamari $14, House Cured Salmon Gravlax $14, Cucina Bistro, Eighth Avenue Place, Calgary, 515 8 Ave. S.W., 587-353-6565, eatcucina.com, @EatCucina 

Divino Wine and Cheese Bistro

There’re too many dishes that we wanted to eat on this menu, so we chose three ‘Firsts’ between two of us at lunchtime. Rougie Duck Leg Confit comes with white bean and Toulouse sausage cassoulet, and if you’re a lover of crispy skin as I am, then you’ll be all aflutter when this arrives at your table. The duck is cooked perfectly, and there’s a ton of flavourful and moist meat to be picked off those bones. Wild Mushroom Tart is as good as it gets too with Gruyere cheese and a chive sabayon. I was too buy eating to snap this one and also the Ahi Tuna Niçoise Salad with teeny weeny marble potatoes, butter leaf lettuce, cherry tomatoes, green beans, and Niçoise olive vinaigrette. Any one would be a lovely lunch, but take someone to share with and enjoy more!

Rougie Duck Leg Confit $17, Wild Mushroom Tart $15, Niçoise Salad $19 at Divino Wine & Cheese Bistro, 113 8 Ave. S.W., Calgary, 403-410-5555, crmr.com/divino, @Divino_Bistro 

Escoba Bistro & Wine Bar

Escoba Spring Rolls are the most popular dish on Escoba’s menu, and they reckon that if all the rolls made over the years were placed end-to-end, they could wrap around the earth’s circumference! They’re a great take on a healthier and more Mediterranean spring roll, and are oven baked with feta, toasted almonds and spinach, and drizzled with sweet chili aïoli sauce. Potato and Lentil Pakoras come with bell pepper, onion, and curried coconut milk over roasted red pepper sauce, and are totally vegan, gluten- and lactose-free too, but still delicious!

Escoba Spring Rolls $15, Potato & Lentil Pakoras $12 at Escoba Bistro, 624  8 Ave. S.W., Calgary, 403-543-8911, escobabistro.com, @Escobabistro 

Embarcadero

And here’s another restaurant that I’ve never been to before! Can’t believe it as it’s such a good place, with tons of history. The two of us shared the ‘lunch specials’ of the day, and they were both great! The pasta special was a dish of in-house made linguine with prawns and in-house made sausage, and juienne veg in rose sauce. It had a subtle spiciness to it and the rich, meaty sausage played so well against the juicy prawns – very moreish!

Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna was seared to raw and came atop a leafy salad with tomatoes, cucumber and peppers, lightly dressed with white balsamic vinaigrette – ideal for a very tasty lunch!

Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna $18, Pasta Special $16 at Embarcadero, 208 17 Ave. S.E., Calgary, 403-263-0848, oysterbar.ca, @EmbarcOysterbar 

– eats courtesy of Linda Garson, editor-in-chief/publisher, @vineanddine

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