Culina Muttart: Flora, Fauna and Food

The Muttart Conservatory, long a favourite Edmonton destination for locals and tourists alike, has partnered with another Edmonton favourite, Chef Brad Lazarenko, to open Culina Muttart, a conservatory café. Brad opened Culina Millcreek in 2004 (operated with business partner Ed Donszelmann), a tiny restaurant on 99 Street that developed an immediate and loyal following since the day it opened. The growing Culina family also includes BiBo winebar and Culina Highlands. How did Edmonton get so lucky?

The partnership with the Muttart allows the Culina team to source products right from the Muttart greenhouse. Herbs and greens are steps away, grown under the watchful eye of Maureen Metz and served to café patrons within minutes of being picked. Little leafy bits to start, yes, but the possibilities are many: vegetables and fruits may not be far behind. Brad showed me a bulging bunch of bananas grown in the greenhouse that were destined to become banana milkshakes. Now if only we could grow olives here, I would stop obsessing about moving to Italy.

Brad Lazarenko has always been a staunch local food advocate. In fact, the entire Culina family of restaurants sources local food for their menus. This new endeavour at the Muttart sees 10 local producers supplying product to the café and last night a group of us had the privilege of tasting their wares. Kirstin Kotelko served up plates of beautifully roasted premium (antibiotic-and hormone-free) beef from Spring Creek Ranch; Vicky and Shayne from Tangle Ridge Ranch were offering succulent samples of their grass-fed lamb; Donna and Bohdan of The Jam Lady had everything from their addictive horseradish to kiwi and lime marmalade on hand; O Sol Meatos and The Cheesiry offered gorgeous cheeses and charcuterie bites;

and Sean from Mighty Trio Organics debuted his Culina salad dressing (comprised of the three oils—hemp, canola and flax that he and his family craft on a farm near Redwater).

Tom from Pinocchio Ice Cream was serving up cups of raspberry tarragon gelato and the folks from en Santé wines and the Yellowhead Brewery helped us wash down these delectable bites with fruit wines and locally brewed beer.

Some items on the café menu include: fresh baked pastries, homemade soups, and sandwiches featuring Spring Creek Ranch beef with smoked cheddar sauce and Gull Valley tomatoes, and roast Lacombe heritage breed pork with pickled onion and Sylvan star gouda. For brunch you’ll find eggs bendict, goats’ cheese frittata with tomato chutney,  and a bacon, gouda and egg panini. Sounds fabulous.

More reasons now to go to the Muttart (as if you needed any more); Culina café is open for business Monday to Friday 10 am to 5 pm and weekends and holidays 11 am to 5 pm. Call 780-466-1181 to enquire about brunch menus and daily specials. The café accepts reservations for parties of 6 or more.

Check out what’s coming up and plan to stay for lunch.

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Author: Twyla Campbell

World-wide wanderer, CBC Edmonton AM Restaurant Reviewer, Member of Edmonton’s Slow Food convivium, oenophile, epicurean explorer and a freelance writer whose works have appeared in several magazines and newspapers including More, Above & Beyond, Avenue (Edmonton), Up Here, Northern Flyer, Opulence, City Palate, the Edible Prairie Journal, The Edmonton Journal, Slow Food Canada, Lifestyle Alberta, and on Slow Food Edmonton’s website. Grant MacEwan University (Professional Writing Program) Bachelor of Applied Communications Degree (in progress). I’m a Tweeter @wanderwoman10