Culina Mill Creek is one of those slightly off the beaten path, neighbourhood bistros. If you know where Route 99 and Bibo Wine Bar is, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. This review is long overdue as I went during the winter when there was lights hung up around the entrance (unless that’s a year round thing…then never mind).
My friend M and I stopped into their sister bar, Bibo Wine Bar, for a drink before our dinner. What’s with all these places in Edmonton owning 3-4 places? Daniel Costa has his trifecta (Corso 32, Bar Bricco and Uccellino), Nate Box has his quadruplets (Little Brick, Elm Café, Burrow and District Coffee) and Brad Lazarenko has Culina Mill Creek, Bibo Wine Bar, Culina Muttart and Dogwood Café. I guess once you have that experience and success with one, the others follow.
Both of us have never been to Culina Mill Creek before but their menu is split between small and large plates. None of the large plates were grabbing our attention ($62.00 for their Oktoberfest for 2 dish – holy crap pricey. Another table ordered it and it looked minuscule) so we decided to order small plates. Sharing is the best! The more things I get to try, the better.
Reservations are a good idea here as the place was packed Friday night. We were given a corner table which was nice and cozy. One thing M complained about was the lighting in the room – too harsh and bright for her when they should be going for a soft, intimate setting. Think along the lines of moody date lighting. Not here though. Luckily, this wasn’t a date…
Mushrooms & polenta ($14.00)
Basil-almond pesto and ricotta in a tomato-balsamic vinaigrette. Honestly, I don’t remember much about this dish other than it feeling on the heavier side of things. The mushrooms were nicely done.
Pomme frites ($9.50)
Edam, scallions and spicy ketchup. The fries were excellent but the homemade spicy ketchup didn’t pair well. We both agreed that things would have been better with some sort of aioli dip. I don’t think I’ve had a homemade ketchup that I’ve liked to this date…
Apricot lamb stew ($18.00 large)
Braised lamb, tomato, cinnamon, cabbage and a baguette. You could choose either small or large – since we were sharing appetizers, we decided to get the large. This was our least favourite dish of the night. The apricot didn’t come through at all, the baguette was hard, and the lamb didn’t have even a hint of gamey-ness to it. When I order lamb, I want it to taste like lamb otherwise what’s the point of even ordering it?
Chicken & red currant pot pie ($15.00)
Pot pie with a puff pastry topping. The pie came out piping hot. Super flaky and generous chunks of chicken. My friend M absolutely loved this and we were both impressed. It’s not an easy dish to nail but we were happy with it and scooped up every last drop.
Cool that they change up their menus on a weekly basis to keep things fresh. They also seem to be a pretty popular spot for brunch so check them out if you’re one of those obsessed brunchies. Overall, I’m not sure if I’ll be rushing back anytime soon to Culina but definitely will be back to Bibo’s!
Culina Mill Creek
9914 – 89 Avenue