If you are looking for a fine dining experience at a reasonable price, and are open to students learning their craft, I highly recommend visiting the Highwood during the academic school year (September — April) and doing one of their 4-course dinners! For 49$ (cost of beverages is extra) you get to experience a meal which includes appetizers, a soup or salad, an entree, and dessert. The Highwood is run by hospitality and culinary students from the Southern Alberta Insitute of Technology.
The meal was fantastic! I went with a group of friends, and had we planned it we probably would have ordered one of everything to try the entire menu but we were so hive-minded 3 of us ordered identical meals – but since everything I ate was fantastic, it’s hard to complain about that! Our taster was a goat cheese croquette, which was dressed with a citrus aioli and provided a nice crunch. I chose the Beef Carpaccio as my appetizer, which used locally-sourced Wagyu beef (butchered by the students) and came with lobster tempura (which was really what sold me on it). The beef was buttery and paper thin (and I may have eaten it before taking a picture of it).
The cappuccino style butternut squash soup was the best dish of the night for me: velvety smooth and creamy, I could drink vats of this endlessly. I would much rather keep a hot butternut squash soup in a tumbler to sip on versus coffee! The cream foam on top provided a nice rich note to every sip of soup, and my dining companions agreed that this was the best of the salads/soup course. We chose two entrees at our table: I had the Alberta beef striploin which was cooked to a perfect medium rare (my preference) and was soft enough to cut with my butter knife! The bone marrow “crust” was really more of a topping that provided a salty, crunchy textural contrast to the rich beef. The other entree was the seared duck breast which was well cooked although lacked the crispy duck skin, which would have provided a needed crunchy texture to a dish that was mostly chewy, between the texture of the duck and the roast vegetables.
We realised our mistake of ordering identical meals before dessert, so we remedied this by ordering one of everything! I think I had the best ‘bite’ with the pear and apple tatin which was a deconstructed pie – the swirl of cream with the crisp puff pastry and the apple mousse and cooked apples in the tatin was a success of texture, flavour, and presentation!
I wish I had taken better notes about what the other desserts were, but looking at the pictures all I remember is that the chocolate dessert tasted essentially like a good candy bar, the citrus squares which came with the cellophane like sugar were very tart, and the sorbets were very sour (but quite smooth)!
Overall, it was an excellent dining experience and something I think we’ll try to do twice a year (which is how often the menu changes: one per semester). They provide 3 timed seatings a night during the academic year, and a lunch buffet (which was fully booked in less than an hour, so I’m looking forward to trying it in the fall!).