Culina Mill Creek – Edmonton, Alberta

Culina Mill Creek
9914 89 Avenue
Culina Mill Creek on Urbanspoon

Sarah and I utilized the nice weather last Saturday and wandered over to Culina Mill Creek. Located a hop and skip north of Edmonton’s hip Whyte Ave, this tiny restaurant (with it’s even tinier wine bar) has always been a crowd favourite.

The surprisingly warm April weather, was reason enough to eat our meal outdoors. Grabbing one of the 4 available tables, we were quickly supplied with our requested bottle of sparkly water and took a peak at the small, but tidy menu. I should say at this point, that it doesn’t seem things change much. After sampling a good portion of the appetizers and hot pots, along with most of the mains, I finally realized on this visit, there was nothing new. However, there was a special, which I’ll get too.

Sarah decided on the Black Cod, which arrived on a bed of tomatoey (is that a word?) green lentils and child sized handful of enoki mushrooms. The entire dish was fantastic. The smooth, buttery cod was really enjoyable, while the lentils were cooked perfectly and worked very well with the aromatic tomato sauce. The mushrooms added a level of earthyness, and I had a feeling Sarah was hoping for more.

When our server described the guajillo, pineapple, tomato braised lamb shank special, I stopped her to say she had me at guajillo. Always a fan of slow roasted meats, I looked forward to this sweet and savory combo which also included a chunk of cornbread pudding. Things looked decent enough, but I gotta say (and this was tough to come to grips with) the meal sucked. The lamb shank on my plate was heavy on the gristle and what meat was left was very very gamey. This is one of those pieces of lamb that scares people away from ordering lamb in the future. The cornbread pudding reminded me of day old tortillas, and combined with a strange sweet and sour sauce, I gave up after a few bites. Thinking I might be out to lunch, Sarah dug in and agreed, saying, this was maybe the worst piece of lamb she’d ever eaten. I don’t know. Maybe I didn’t understanding the vision of this ‘special’, maybe it was the meat, maybe it was the cornbread…I do know that I really looked forward to this meal and was surprised to find something so disappointing from the kitchens here.

Where does this leave me. No where different I supposed. We can all cook bad meals, and we can all have bad days. I think it just makes it all the more disappointing to pay 35 bucks for a terrible piece of meat and slice of bread. The service started strong, but after we put in our food order our server all but disappeared, and after flagging her down for another bottle of sparkly, she proceeded to forget this simple addition. You better not let me down next time Culina, or we might just go see a counselor.

12 thoughts on “Culina Mill Creek – Edmonton, Alberta

  1. It’s too bad you had a bad meal at Culina. Culina was easily my favourite restaurant in Edmonton. As a vegetarian, I loved that my wife and I could go, and neither of us felt as though we we deprived or compromising (she eats meat). Culina is one of the few things I miss about Edmonton (the Italian Center and Fresh Start Bakery also make the list).

    I’m glad you’ll give them another chance.

    • Like I mentioned Jamie, I haven’t closed the door on Culina. With so many good meals there, I’d be hard pressed too walk away so easily, which is maybe why the disappinting meal was such a knock.

      I can easily see how they have made your list of things you miss.

  2. That is really too bad about your lamb! My husband had a similar experience at Culina Highlands with lamb (although my chicken and dumplings were delicious), it really soured us, and with all the great eats around, we probably won’t be back for awhile.

  3. It just doesn’t seem like a good idea to pay $35 for a meal that you HATED! Any good restaurant would gladly make their customer happy and try and remedy the situation. It may have been a good idea to try this in support of your well liked local restaurant than to blog about it.

    Just a thought.

    • Shelley, thanks for stopping by. What I’m trying to do is put my experiences into words, and by not including the situations and/or meals that were unfortunately bad, would go against the whole point of getting out there and sampling what our amazing city has to offer. Like I mentioned, I’ve enjoyed plenty of meals at Culina, and this won’t stop me from giving them another chance.

    • I haven’t. I’ll have to make my way down there one day. I’m not the biggest pasta fan (and our pasta portion control is crazy here), but maybe when you’re are making a visit one day.

  4. I’ve eaten at Culina twice, and once it was great food and the other time it wasn’t. But two things were the same on my two visits: service was VERY slow and the food was expensive. I don’t think I’ll go back except if I’m invited 😉

  5. Hi Chris, I love blogging of all kinds…the good…the bad…and the ugly. I just think it still would be fair to send a bad meal back and then see how the restaurant handles it. I would be interested in reading about that. You would also not be out $35. Between your Second Cup experience and this you won’t be able to go out to eat anymore…I just mean this last comment in good fun…honestly!

  6. We’ve been about five times, and had one memorable meal.

    They put that dammed sauce on just about everything.

    Mediocre food, very slow service and twice simply rude.

    They’ve had the benefit of the doubt too many times.

    We shall not return.

  7. I also had a bad experience at Culina Millcreek back in October of last year and haven’t been back. It seems to me they are trying to prepare dishes that sound OK but they aren’t able to follow through. There are much better restaurants to go to in Edmonton!

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