Published Mar 4th, 2013

By Avenue Staff

Best Restaurants: Best Biz Lunch

Sometimes you need a quick business lunch — these picks don't sacrifice quality for speed

The cold water Canadian jumbo scallops sit atop bacon mustard vinaigrette — they are the perfect examples of Wildflower’s dedication to Canadian touches.
The cold water Canadian jumbo scallops sit atop bacon mustard vinaigrette — they are the perfect examples of Wildflower’s dedication to Canadian touches.

First Place >> WILDFLOWER

Given the number of power players who make the jaunts from the legislature grounds to the restaurant for their lunches, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that some important pieces of provincial legislation were hatched over some of chef Nathin Bye’s inventive creations. Wildflower succeeds in mixing quick service — a must at lunch hour — without sacrificing the luxury of a fine-dining experience. And it doesn’t overlook the importance of coffee, something many restaurants forget. It’s served in French presses, and it’s an important addition to lunchtime, when we’re all looking to pick up our second wind. The salads and mains come from traditional recipes, but Bye infuses them with modern, Canadian touches. Ravioli is made deliciously earthy with a three-mushroom filling and the must-try lunchtime main is the West Coast Cioppino, a tomato broth with Canadian mussels, clam, prawn and cod. Soak up the juices with the fresh-baked bread — it’s as good a lunch as you’ll find in the city. (10009 107 St., 780-990-1938, wildfloweredmonton.com) —Steven Sandor

Runner-Up >> HARDWARE GRILL 

Hardware Grill lives up to its tagline “tradition meets innovation.” The dimly lit dining room and impeccable, fast service are old-school dining tradition at its best, whereas appetizers and mains arrive at your table so artfully arranged, you’ll want to Instagram every dish. But you’ll be too busy stuffing the “Feta-terranean” — a massive tomato filled with goat cheese and surrounded by sweet bell peppers — into your mouth to bother with your phone. Dishes arrive at a rapid pace without sacrificing presentation or quality. (9698 Jasper Ave., 780-423-0969, hardwaregrill.com) —Sydnee Bryant

Honourable Mention >> DAHLIA'S MEDITERRANEAN BISTRO

It’s not a bar, but you’d be forgiven if the Cheers theme song ran through your head when entering the newly renovated Dahlia’s Bistro. And owner Fadi Smaidi, a Montreal native, also owns the GoGo Lounge across the way — so it’s especially fitting. Smaidi makes a point to get to know his regulars. The welcoming space and quick Mediterranean options like the falafels, shawarmas and home-made lentil soup make it a great destination for an intimate business lunch where everybody knows your name. (10235 124 St., 780-488-7656, dahliasbistro.com) —Caroline Barlott

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