Cross-posted from Calgary is Awesome.
Higher Ground and I actually go way back - as a high school student at nearby Queen E, I would often go during my spares for an apple-berry tea or soup. In a weird twist of fate, I met one of their managers, Dan Clapson, through the Calgary Food Blogger Bake Sale back in June (he made the very-popular London Fog cookies!) His blog, Dan's Good Side, features lots of yummy recipes interspersed with restaurant reviews and interviews for Food Network Canada, as well as quick posts about his favourite musicians. Dan was kind enough to invite me to have one of his Global Vegetarian Night meals at Higher Ground on the house! (So yes, this review may be a little biased.)
Higher Ground's Global Vegetarian Night happens every Wednesday between 5:30-9:30 PM. Call to make a reservation, and you will get a three-course vegetarian (often it is vegan) meal for only $19 prepared by Dan himself! Because B. and I often have other commitments on Wednesday night, it's difficult to get our schedules to mesh and ultimately we couldn't, so I brought my friend Winnie (a fellow foodie who also brought a camera with her). I think Dan was trying to make a joke on our reservation sign about how hard my name is to spell, but Winnie appreciated how she was inadvertently incorporated into the reservation (though I personally would spell our names "Vinccinnie")
We kicked off our meal with a Spinach Salad with Cranberry Peppercorn Dressing. I loved how a cucumber was hulled to make a little cup for the peppery dressing. The spinach was buttery and the sliced almond added a welcome nutty crunch. There were a few slices of apple in it as well, though I would've appreciated more to get that fruity tang.
The main course featured two domes of quinoa studded with walnut halves topped with roasted zucchini, onion, eggplant, tomato, carrots and a tangy tomato sauce. The dish was presented on one large plate as opposed to two separate ones, making for a more intimate meal. I personally would've liked the vegetables to have been cooked for a little longer, especially the eggplant, to let them soften and have their earthy, fall flavours come out.
Dessert was simply a pair of pumpkin cookies, drizzled with a maple sauce and sprinkled with sliced almonds. The cookies were a little undercooked in the middle, but in this case it worked as it was meant to be eaten with a fork like a mini-cake. A sweet, comforting end to the meal.
I was impressed by the friendly service by the staff - Winnie and I felt like we were our own little island, having a three-course meal while everyone else seemed to just be sipping coffee or cramming for their midterms. The service was also very efficient; our dishes were cleared almost as soon as we were finished, and quickly replaced with our next course. We left the restaurant feeling comfortably satisfied. Unfortunately for us, I would say this was probably one of the less creative menus I've seen for this night (likely because Dan was actually away for holidays) - Andree from are u gonna eat that? had a more Vietnamese-inspired meal featuring grilled tofu satay and spaghetti squash salad rolls a few weeks ago, and earlier this month the menu featured borscht, vegan cabbage rolls and quinoa-stuffed dolmades. I guess this only means that I have to get myself down to Higher Ground more often - and for only $19, I'm more than happy to.
Of course, even if you can't make it to the Global Vegetarian Night, Higher Ground's regular menu consists of a delicious selection of breakfast items, salads, soups, sandwiches and baked goods, and of course, coffee and tea!
Higher Ground Café
1126 Kensington Rd NW
Calgary AB T2N 3P3
Global Vegetarian Night every Wednesday between 5:30-9:30 PM by reservation only. Open Mon-Thu 7 AM-11 PM; Fri 7 AM-Midnight; Sat 8 AM-Midnight; Sun 8 AM-11 PM.