I’ve been trying to get to Bibo for a while. I’ve been close a few times while having dinner next door at Culina Mill Creek, but Bibo–the Culina Family’s baby wine bar–has been that place we always think of stopping in at, but never manage to make it happen.
Now with Culina Mill Creek ceasing their weekday lunch operations (weekend brunches still happen from 10-2), Bibo has picked up the baton, offering in Culina Mill Creek’s stead, a simplified lunch menu. This gave me the perfect excuse to drop by.
I took my 18-year-old, first year Fine Arts kid with me to check it out. The first thing she said when we walked inside was, “Cool…this is what I want for my house!” She was referring to the plastic, baby doll body parts embedded in the black ceiling, the old-school religious pictures, and the mismatched crown molding– part of the tongue-and-cheek decor that becomes noticeable as you let your eyes rove over the eclectic interior of the small, narrow space.
I’m sure she wasn’t referring to the 30 or so different wines on the counter begging to be tasted.
For those eaters who are overwhelmed by extensive menus, or menus with pictures, or annoyed by servers who don’t know the difference between arugula and asparagus, the server here (just one), is able to tell you what area of the province the product comes from, the name of the supplier, and every ingredient in the salad dressing–including what type of seeds are used to produce the oil. But only if you ask and only if you, like me, really want to know these things.
So, on to the food. Every morning Bibo posts their menu on Twitter (follow them @MillCreekCulina). They serve two sandwiches, a soup, and a salad at a cost of $11 for soup/sandwich or salad/sandwich. Because there was only two of us, our choice was easy: we took one of everything.
Even for me, El Carnivora, the veggie sandwich was surprisingly satisfying. The Treestone Bakery bun was layered with sun-dried tomato pesto, wild mushroom bruschetta and a sinfully delicious tofu/miso/herb spread that made me admit, finally, that tofu is actually a good and edible thing.
The Ponderosa ham and cheese was perfect: smoked Lacombe Heritage pork shoulder sliced thin, topped with Sylvan Star’s Gouda and a slightly sweet mustard made me feel like I was six years old again, sitting at Grandma’s counter having soup and a sammie for lunch, except here I was listening to Indie music, twirling a glass of Argentinian malbec, slurping back roasted garlic and chickpea soup while Jesus and his Disciples gazed from behind the picture glass. I felt oddly comforted.
What impressed me most though was the coleslaw. I mean, it’s cabbage. Kapusta, kohl, kraut…whatever name your folks called it back on the farm, cabbage is handicapped just by it’s name. This slaw though, topped with mango and dressed in a garlic/cider and maple accented hemp oil (from Mighty Trio Organics), erased all memories of soggy, sloppy coleslaws of a thousand potluck suppers.
The large window at the front of the bar was open to let in rain-scented air and birdsong from feathery choirs perched in the balconies of 50 year old trees. My kid and I sat on a thick wooden bench taking it all in. Bibo is the kind of place you discover and then feel like its all yours. Just yours. I think that’s the nicest vibe a neighbourhood joint can give off.
My CBC Edmonton AM review of Bibo can be heard here.