9914 89th avenue
Before I asked last week for birthday suggestions, I had mentally narrowed my birthday dinner search to Red Ox Inn, Wildflower Grill, and Culina. Having been away from Edmonton for a while and looking for somewhere out of the norm, I knew these three options would easily fit the bill. I mean with delicious reviews like this, this, this, and this how could any of them disappoint. What pushed me over the edge? Well, you and your suggestions.
As my days start relatively early I was glad to get a 5:30 reservation, as I’m usually chomping at the bit for supper at this point. The three of us showed up to a completely empty restaurant and were greeted by two welcoming ladies. As we had all taken a gander at the online menu, we were pretty much decided; the hardest decision being whether to start with the calamari or the scallops. The scallops won out and our order was quickly dispatched. Before you know it we had 5 absolutely gorgeous scallops in a ginger-butter sauce and bacon gremolata in front of us. Needless to say, we made quick work of these babies.
I ordered the slow braised lamb shank in spanish tomato sauce on a bed of green lentils, while my dinning companions had the brome lake duck breast on roasted local potatoes in a white balsamic and cherry reduction and moroccan vegetable tagine with grilled flatbread. The lamb shank was fantastically tender, pealing away from the bone with nary an effort. The perfectly cooked lentils and tomato sauce combined wonderfully with the lamb. My only request would have been a bit more sauce, as I ran out before the other two components were finished.
While not the best duck I've tasted, it was a little too cooked for me, the balsamic and cherry reduction was what we all agreed made this dish a success.
The real surprise was the moroccan vegetable tagine. It was the most delicious blend of eggplant, zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, and tomatoes in a perfectly spiced curry. I kept sampling this dish, and started questioning my choice after a few bites. The generous amount of grilled flatbread had a light dusting of spices and sesame seeds; a fantastic side to the dish.
We finished the meal with coffee and, thanks to foodie suz's excitement, sesame banana fritters with coconut gelato. The bananas showed up with a candle, in honor of my birthday, which I thought was a great touch. I am definitely on the band wagon for this dessert. The mix of coconut gelato, warm ripe bananas, and crisp coating was a perfect topper to the end of our meal.
I really, really enjoyed my birthday here. We were able to relax nicely for an hour and a half, received great attentive service from two lovely ladies, and dined on 5 successful dishes. I do think Culina is a little liberal with their casual dinning statement, as I see this as more of a destination restaurant than random drop by. I definitely recommend Culina MillCreek for your next special dinner; unless of course money is no object, in which case I suggest you keep going back until you have sampled all the dishes. At least that is what I would do!
Saturday, March 28, 2009