August 18, 2014 by and
Photography by Bill Sitzmann
Dundee has always been one of my favorite Omaha neighborhoods. I just love all the magnificent old houses and perfectly landscaped yards. I am also a big fan of the Dundee restaurant scene.

Since 2003, Marks Bistro has been an important part of that scene. Chef/Owner Mark Pluhacek and his partner, Molly Romero, have been delighting Dundee diners for years with great cuisine and service. In February of last year Pluhacek decided to step back from the day-to-day kitchen operations and hired veteran Omaha Chef James Davis. I recently had a chance to dine there and thought I would share my
experience with you.

One of the cool things about Marks Bistro is that it is actually built on the second and third floor of an old Dundee house. The dining rooms are small and numerous, just like the floor plan of a home. The windows from the dining room overlook bustling Underwood Avenue, which is the heart of Dundee. The handsome bar is in the center of the main dining room. On the third floor there are even smaller private dining rooms that one must assume were bedrooms. The garden patio is one of my favorite spots, and it is just like eating in a gorgeous garden of an old, turn-of-the-century house. It is by no means the most beautiful restaurant I have ever seen, but all the elements do work together well to provide a really nice, comfortable, homey feel.

I was curious to see how much the menu had changed since my last visit and since Chef Davis’ arrival. As I expected, many of the selections seemed new, but I did recognize a couple of favorite dishes from past visits. I was intrigued to see that Davis has been doing a lot of experimenting with Sous Vide meats. Sous Vide is a French cooking technique that has recently become very popular in America. It is a method that involves vacuum packaging the food, then poaching it for many hours (sometimes days) in an agitated water bath at the low cooking temperature of 131 degrees. The results can be mind-blowing.

For appetizers, my dining partner and I started with the Bistro Fries ($4.50) and the Charcuterie Plate ($12). The Bistro Fries come with a house-made catsup as well as a rosemary truffle aioli for dipping. They were seasoned perfectly and had a great texture. The charcuterie plate was equally impressive with three excellent cured meats and a couple of artisan cheeses. For entrees I had the to try the Sous Vide-style 48 Hour Short Ribs ($24).

I’m sure glad I did. The boneless, short-rib meat was actually still pink in the center, but still incredibly tender. The cabernet demi glace went perfectly with the meat as well as the garlic mashed potatoes, roasted baby carrots, and sauteed spinach. My dining partner had the famous Macaroni and Cheese ($10). This dish has been on the menu for a long time, and many feel it is the best mac and cheese in Omaha. I’m inclined to agree, as it is hard to not like the cavatappi pasta, the rich, four-cheese sauce with cheddar, Havarti, Asiago and blue cheeses, all topped with a toasted panko crust. We finished off the meal with the Whiskey Bread Pudding ($6). This deliciously decadent bread pudding is smothered in caramel sauce and whipped cream. Yum!

The service at Mark’s has always been casual, friendly and good. This visit was no exception. Combine that with the expertly curated wine and beer list to complement the stellar food, and dining at Mark’s is a really solid experience. I plan to make a point of getting over there more often and encourage you to do the same. Cheers!

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