Culina Cafe, Edmonton - Questions...
- chefathome Jul 15, 2008 11:38 AM
My husband and I are having dinner at Culina for the first time Thursday night as per recommendations on this board. However, it appears as though their website is down so I have no idea what is on the menu or what the atmosphere is like. From this board I take it that it is casual but innovative.
Can anyone supply me with more details? Dinner/wine menus? Atmposphere?
Eclectic, casual. Small, perhaps 35 to 40 seats. That may be an exaggeration. Bench seating along the wall if as you walk in you are seated to the left. To the right 5 or 6 tables for 2 or 4 against the far wall and at the windows. 2 or 3 stools at the bar, which is more of a service bar than anything else.
It is a laid back friendly spot. Someone might be wearing a suit and the next table is purple hair and nose studs. Has a nice community feel that I would frequent if we still lived in that area.
Interesting, quirky art. Good music which does not dominate. The kind of music which sounds great in a restaurant but not so much when one plays it at home. Techno-Jazz like Au Pres de St. Germaine and the like.
Much the same for the food. We live out in the 'burbs for the most part our past visits have been for lunch on Saturday or if I decide to drive out from downtown during the week for lunch. We stopped going because it became too "eggy" for me but that is just me. As a result it has been a few months since our last visit so my recollection of the menu is "spotty".
I have enjoyed their fish, often line caught, halibut or white salmon. Excellent roast beef with blue cheese and chocolate. Curries. Again fairly eclectic.
Very good and well selected wine list. Often features some very good options from Canada. Brad Lazarenko the chef/owner has opened a 2nd spot Passo-Tempo [same name as the wine bar next door in Edmonton] at one of the wineries in the southern Okanagan and I think perhaps a 3rd on the main drag in Osoyoos has either opened or is in the plans. Will have most of what you would normally expect and a few surprises.
Hope you enjoy yourself.
They have a really good chorizo and bean hot pot served with corn bread. My friend and I just ended up spliting that and the filet with bleu cheese and chocolate. I had the most amazing soda there though, lime and blackberry or black cherry with green tea sorbet. She raves about their brunch menu too. I'd describe their menu as fancy and thoughtful home cooking.
I believe they serve Spring Creek beef. It's delicious stuff, though I've never had it at Culina.
If you have the time after dinner, you might consider running around the corner to Wild Earth Foods to pick up some Spring Creek beef to take home with you (if you can't find it out where you live).
The popular standby is the steak with "dirty' mashed potatoes and chocolate sauce. I've always liked the Moroccan chicken (on the bone)... However, I've heard mixed reviews of late since Chef Brad Lazarenko left to spend more time on his other restaurant in the B.C. Interior.
Like it better for breakfast/lunch than dinner. It is small enough that people at the next table often will peer over and enquire about what you are eating (which I like), but that means it is also small enough that the perfume/cologne of people sitting nearby mixes with the aroma of your meal. The food ingredients are generally very good quality but the cooking can be uneven (particularly have had problems with overcooked seafood). I do love the peppery, fruity, too-wet mess of a house salad and the decent selection of wine by the glass.
We had a great dinner. We were there early (5:30) as we had a 3-hour drive after so it was not as busy as it would have been later on.
We had the applewood smoked bacon/goat cheese hotpot and scallops to share. Both were actually very good.
I had the braised lamb shank with lentils and Spanish tomato sauce. The lamb was extremely tender - I did not have to even pick up my knife. It was very flavourful. The lentils were perfectly cooked. I really enjoyed the dish and really took time to savour it.
My husband chose the sirloin with chocolate/blue cheese sauce and dirty potatoes. It was excellent. (I had a difficult time deciding between lamb and that but chose lamb - how often do you get lamb shanks on the menu?). It was very good - loved the combination of bitter chocolate and blue cheese. We detected some lovely smokiness - we both would order that dish again. I will try to replicate this at home.
Being slightly piggish we also polished off desserts. I had the banana sesame fritters with coconut gelato and my husband the fudge brownies with bourbon ice cream and chocolate sauce. We both enjoyed the fritters better - more unique. Both were large servings.
While it was not the most memorable or best meal we have had, having eaten all over the world, all in all it was very good and we would definitely return. Casual, not pretentious and unique locally-sourced food. The service was very good as well. Our server was extremely knowledgeable about food/wine.
Sounds as though it is better for breakfast and lunch - cannot wait to try it! :)