Date Night: Highlands Kitchen and Carriage Ride

I feel a bit sheepish posting this so late, especially because the restaurant has since changed hands. But Mack encouraged me to do so anyway, as it does provide a snapshot of a great neighbourhood-based date. Plus, the restaurant has turned over to another independent company, so the bones of the evening are still very much a possibility.

At the end of July, Mack and I took the bus over to the picturesque neighbourhood of Highlands, the only community in Edmonton that we know of where you can have dinner followed by a carriage ride.

We started our evening at Highlands Kitchen (which has since become the location of Creole Envie). This was our first visit since its transformation from Culina Highlands, but we understood the menu preserved the Eastern European comforts that had been its hallmark.

We chose to sit outside on the charming patio, lined with herb planters and shielded from the bustle of 112 Avenue. For dinner, as has become custom for us, we decided to share several dishes, all of which we enjoyed.

Highlands Kitchen

Patio

Mack’s favourite was the bacon wrapped dates ($10), swayed as he was by the sweet-salty touchstones. My favourite were the pork crepes ($12), featuring tender pulled pork in a Saskatoon berry BBQ sauce.

Highlands Kitchen

Bacon wrapped dates

Highlands Kitchen

Pulled pork crepes

The quinoa salad ($12) was also noteworthy, as it became the inspiration for several subsequent salads of my own. I loved the different textures in every bite – from crispy chickpeas to sweet cranberries and crunchy seeds.

Highlands Kitchen

Quinoa salad

For dessert, a simple but delicious pound cake topped with berries and a scoop of Pinocchio ice cream. Perfect for two to share.

Highlands Kitchen

Eating it too

After dinner, we headed up the block to Mandolin Books to pick up our reserved tickets for the horse-drawn wagon ride with Anjl Horse & Carriage Company. Those who have frequented the Alberta Avenue and Highlands Farmers’ Markets might be familiar with the proprietor behind Anjl – Arie Jol is a resident of Highlands, and vends meat and eggs under the banner of Ma-Be Farms.

The rides start from the bookstore on the last Friday of every month, approximately every half hour between 7-9pm. They take place year round, so long as the temperature holds above –15C. Our adult tickets were $10 (teens are $8, and seniors and children 12 and under are $5).

Highlands Horse & Carriage Ride

Anjl Horse & Carriage

The ride was a leisurely one, though perhaps not as educational as we would have hoped for. Arie isn’t a historian, but given he had been conducting these tours for some time, we thought he would have been able to answer more of our questions about the neighbourhood.

Highlands Horse & Carriage Ride

Sharing the road

Still, he did point out some neat features, such as plaques that had been put up on buildings in the area by the Highlands Historical Society, indicating the home’s original residents or business.

Highlands Horse & Carriage Ride

Plaque on Mandolin Books

As well, Arie made sure we were able to get a good look at the homes of Highlands’ founding fathers. One in particular, the Macgrath Mansion, is absolutely stunning.

Highlands Horse & Carriage Ride

Macgrath Mansion

That summer night, with the canopied streets in full bloom, Mack and I marvelled at how unique it was to be riding through the streets of Edmonton in a horse and carriage. Only in Highlands.

Highlands Horse & Carriage Ride

Horses!