Volume 94, Issue 84

Thursday, March 1, 2001


The relentless world of Misstress Barbara

Feast on European delights at Marienbad

My ego has finally landed

Feast on European delights at Marienbad

Lauren Starr/Gazette

Marienbad Restaurant and Tavern
122 Carling Street

By Molly Duignan
Gazette Staff

When a life of pasta, Kraft dinner and stir-fry gets boring, nothing can be more appealing than an intimate evening at London's finest "taste of Europe." If you can manage to save a few extra bucks at the end of the month, the trip downtown to the Marienbad Restaurant will be worth your while.

Once inside, the memory of an otherwise scuzzy downtown will fade as you sink into the dimly lit, romantic setting of the Marienbad. With a choice of the Fireplace Room, the Prague Room or the Atrium, there isn't a table in the restaurant that doesn't offer the quaint, quiet and comfortable ambiance one would expect from a restaurant of this calibre.

A peek at the extensive menu is almost overwhelming, as it offers a wide variety of specials, hot and cold appetizers, European specialties and vegetarian dishes. The diverse list of beverages and wines offers rarities like Caledonian 80 beer on tap, a luxury not often found in London, Ontario restaurants.

The waiter was quick to recommend Marienbad's staple dishes, including their signature Beefsteak Tartar appetizer and unique specials including grilled shark and New Zealand lamb chops. The staff were well informed of the preparation process of all of the dishes and warned that to have the beefsteak tartar, one must first sign a customer release form due to the raw preparation of the meat.

Needless to say, signing one's life away for a raw p‰té-like appetizer is a unique experience, but completely worth it. The Goulash soup is also a hearty and fantastic choice for an appetizer.

The entrées are wonderful, from their famous schnitzel to Saffron Risottos. If you're feeling daring you might want to try one of their specials, such as the grilled shark, which is incredibly tasty. The Franz Josef Schnitzel is a distinctive alternative from the standard meals available at most restaurants.

If you're watching your wallet or waistband, do not even ask about the desserts. The Palatchinka with hot raspberries is a light crepe and ice cream filled dessert that stands out as the definite highlight of the meal. For a nightcap, choose a specialty coffee, among them Marienbad's own special blend.

The restaurant's only weakness is its paper napkins, a small yet obvious detail which cannot help but stand out in stark contrast to the otherwise sophisticated atmosphere. The side dishes also lack originality or zest, yet do not take away from the excellent overall impression.

Attached to the restaurant is Chaucers, a pub dedicated to providing a quiet, intimate alternative to London's otherwise loud and impersonal bar scene. Also unique to the Marienbad are their monthly "Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre" nights.

The Marienbad manages to impress on all levels as a high-class, fine-dining experience, and stands out as the best alternative to the starving student lifestyle in London.

Quality Of Cuisine: 4 stars (out of 5)

Bang For Your Buck: 4.5 stars

Ambiance And Locale: 5 stars

Overall Rating: 4 stars

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