Friday, July 24, 2009

Culina Highlands for Fork Fest

I don't know which is more exciting for me: summer or Original Fare's Fork Fest. I can safely say that when both occur at the same time, that is the best. I am going to a couple of other places next week, but wanted to get this review and these pics up ASAP so that those of you making decisions for next week will have the info. Wed evening Brooke and I headed out to the Highlands area (and we rarely go much east of downtown) to seek out Culina Highlands. It's a tiny little place clustered in with a couple of other stores and restaurants along 112 Avenue. With it being pretty hot out that night, I wish we had arrived a little earlier and got a spot on the tiny patio out back, but instead we were inside, and the venue is cute and cozy and manages to feel both homey and contemporary at the same time.

Online the appetizer was listed as Chorizo sausage with cornmeal and chickpea pakoras and roasted tomato sauce, which I was looking quite forward to. When we arrived however, the appetizer ended up being a spinach salad with cherry tomatoes, croutons and "beet chips" (not really chip like at all, more like shavings) with a creamy dill dressing. I would say that the dill was certainly the dominant flavor in the salad, to the point where if you weren't all that keen on dill, you would certainly find it a bit overwhelming. Luckily, I like dill quite a lot, still, I was disappointed in missing out on the pakoras.

The main was Braised Alberta bison short ribs with a molasses compound butter served with baby red potatoes and squash. The squash were also baby, so it all looked very cute and round together on the plate. I thought the molasses compound butter was a nice finish to the short ribs - something a little different as molasses is something we often think of as a cookie ingredient. I know some people are probably getting tired of the short rib trend at restaurants these days, but I am a fan. I like the meatiness of them, and how when slow cooked the meat just falls right off the bone. This was no exception.

For dessert, we were served a sweet crepe with cinnamon sugar, honey and fresh berries. It was a smallish portion, but given the heat of the day and that it was our third course, it was nice to have a light dessert. The crepe had a creamy lemon topping as well that was very nice. The lemon flavour was subtle, as was the flavour of the honey, so the dessert tasted nice and delicate overall. I also liked having the edible flower on top, seeing as I clearly have been using my violets as edible dessert decorations lately as well.

Those with large appetites may find this trio not quite filling enough (types like those should head over to Red Ox - always generous portions), but for me it was plenty to be full. It was a good experience, and having perused the regular menu while we were there, I would definitely be interested in trying it again.


  1. Looks yummy! And when it's hot, I find I don't really want to eat a lot either.

    I'm sad that I won't have time to go to any Fork Fest outings this time.

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  3. I'm really glad you posted this, because we had reservations at Culina Highlands for Thursday night, and the pakoras were the big draw. Since I hate dill violently, we changed our reservations to Culina MillCreek and had their ForkFest menu instead (very pleasant, excellent service; they had the same little round squash and chard and potatoes as Highlands for the sides for the lamb steaks and arctic char mains; dessert of shortcake with lychee cream and berries was good but a tad dry).

    I emailed Cindy at Culina Highlands to let her know the online menu didn't match the actual menu, and got a really nice reply back. She offered to have us come in another time and they'd make the pakoras for us specially, so yay! What a pleasant response. We live in the neighbourhood and will definitely take her up on it.