May. 25, 2011 - Issue #814: Love Song
Mill Creek wine bar evokes gaslight past
Knowledgeable oenophile Dianna Funnell rules BiBO from behind its wooden counter and has an uncanny ability to select wines for patrons based on oft-vague descriptions of flavour and aroma. To whit—I request a white that is "refreshing and not overly sweet" and Funnell deftly pours a goblet of Sandhill Chardonnay 2009 Vintage ($9.90). This white originated in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley; its flavour is subtle, relaxed and clean while its aroma hints of chilled honey and crisp morning air. My fellow gourmand requires red, and wishes for something "young and bold." Funnell fulfils her request with a glass of 1975 Red Co Cabernet ($12). This assertive red tastes younger than expected, has a nuance of acidity and smells a bit like dried fruit luxuriating in rum for a Christmas cake.
BiBO's strength is clearly wine but, being a member of the Culina group, proffers a brief but intriguing menu. This list of victuals includes prosciutto and Sylvan Star Gouda tostada ($10) and duck hot dogs with orange mustard and pikliz ($10). Simple dishes are prepared behind BiBO's counter while more complex dishes are brought over from neighbouring Culina Mill Creek's kitchen. The tostadas appear in short order, and feature toasty, chewy triangles of bread stuffed with melted Gouda and pieces of salty prosciutto. Prosciutto is assertive and the flavour of cheese is lost in its shadow. Although the entire dish is initially reminiscent of an upscale grilled cheese sandwich, it is one-dimensional and would be improved by the addition of fruit chutney to balance out the heavy hit of salt.
The duck hot dogs (how I wish they were called "hot ducks" instead) are served in tiny, fluffy buns alongside a clump of curly arugula. A hot dog is only as good as its bun, and these buns possess a crisp exterior that gives way to a tender interior. A drizzle of citrusy mustard awakens these hot-ducks, which are rich, slightly chewy, and a far cry from traditional wieners. A shredded cluster atop each sausage appears at first to be cheese but is the "pikliz" or pickled vegetables, which add an astringent crunch to the dish. Ultimately, the hot ducks are a novel and satisfying interpretation of hot dogs.
We select flourless chocolate torte ($8) as dessert and glasses of Olivares Altos de la Hoya Monastrell ($9.90). This red skillfully treads the border between dry and sweet, smells a bit like fresh blackberries and tastes boldly of apples, berries and a whisper of dark chocolate. It pairs easily with our wedge of chocolate dessert, which is dusted with icing sugar and accompanied by a halved strawberry. The torte is smooth, bittersweet and devilishly rich. The richness necessitates its miniature size, but we regret that it was finished so soon.
BiBO seats only 12 and does not take reservations, so one must either rely on chance to get a seat or pop in during the pre-supper lull. It's worth a look to see the Tim Burton-esque Victorian décor alone, but equally rewarding to chat with sommelier Dianna Funnell and savour a worldly goblet of vino. The menu is creative, but some dishes are far stronger than others. The summation of BiBO is not unlike the Victorian Era itself: sometimes moody, macabre or tongue-in-cheek anachronistic, but ultimately a balance of dark and light. V
Tue – Thu (5 pm – 10 pm); Fri (5 pm – Late); Sat (6 pm – Late)
9919 - 89 Ave, 780.437.5588
More info about Bibo →
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