Step back in time with two different takes on heritage railway dining
A Vintage Rail Car Gourmet Dining Experience at Heritage Park
History:“CP Railcar #411752, was built in 1929, as one of 15 solarium parlour observation cars. These cars were used in Trans-Continental service between Montreal and Vancouver, as well as Chicago to Vancouver, mostly during the summer months. They were assigned to famous named trains such as the Trans-Canada Limited, the Mountaineer and the Dominion.
In this service the cars were named the RIVER series and car 411752 was named RIVER FORTH. Construction of RIVER FORTH was completed in March 1929.
In 2004 the car was released from this service and brought to Calgary for possible use on the Royal Canadian Pacific. A need to use the trucks off this car to keep the Track Elevation Car in service left it in Calgary’s Ogden Yard until 2011.”
Beginning at Midnapore station picking up passengers, the beautifully restored CP Train loops through Heritage Park grounds from the settlement, through the ranch, midway, taking guests on a scenic journey. On board, the service is friendly and attentive, for the three course lunch, served on white tablecloths with silverware, adding a fine dining (but not stuffy) atmosphere to the journey.
The food is outstanding — from the sweet bi-colour heirloom tomatoes served with an enormous creamy burrata, drizzled perfectly with sweet-tangy balsamic and a basil pesto that sings of summer. The generous portion of herb crusted halibut is perfectly cooked, with a decadent caper-citrus velouté, seared vegetables and grain pilaf, hearty and delicious. Dessert is a picturesque trifle-style verrine, layered with pieces of lemon poppy cake, an unctuous vanilla mousse, and bright strawberries —refreshing and refined yet perfectly simple. All of which is paired with your choice of Okanagan wine.
Train journeys, no matter how far, conjure nostalgia for the golden age of travel when people dressed-up, dined on fine china and made an occasion of the entire journey. Heritage Park successfully recreates this, albeit on a smaller scale. So, dress up, enjoy the wine and food, the service and the bespoke train car. This is a sophisticated treat in the city, the River Forth Dining car lunch is a must-do in Calgary!
Course 1: Pesto Stuffed Burrata Tuscan Greens Salad
Herb Crusted Pacific Halibut
Course 3: Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
Locally roasted coffee and herbal tea Served with still or sparkling water
Tickets are $68.95 + GST; park admission not included. Ticket price includes gratuity.
Originally and presently a tree farm, Aspen crossing in Mossleigh, Alberta (45 minutes southeast of Calgary), is the hub for eleven different themed train excursions like Wine and Cheese, Ales on Rails, Circus Train, Dinner Theatre. The train attraction now in its fifth year of operation, is more popular than ever.
In 2006 a chance opportunity came about to purchase an 1887 Pullman rail car. If the age of this rail car didn’t indicate history, then it’s noted past confirmed it. The rail car just finished up it’s entertaining days or rather nights, as part of the famous Side Track café in Edmonton. Having hosted great acts such as Sarah MacLachlan, The Barenaked Ladies, Blue Rodeo, K.D. Lang and many, many more. The iconic nightclub was closing its doors after 18 years. But it’s history went further back, to when it served as Prime Minister John Diefenbaker’s campaign rail car during the mid-1950’s.
Today this historical 1887 Pullman serves up a new menu every season for every palate from April to December. During the summer months, dining outdoors on the beautiful deck is an extra special experience. “
Beginning with a glass of sparkling wine or orange juice, the train takes off through the majestic prairies with the sounds of banjo-playing musicians adding a charming sing-along, country vibe to the excursion.
A wide selection of food for the champagne brunch includes favourites like biscuits, eggs, bacon, sausage, waffle sticks, salad, chicken skewers, beef meat balls, macarons and cheesecake squares. Each table is called up in succession to serve themselves buffet style. With the rocking of the train this becomes a fun Amazing Race mission, though a lady and her sister celebrating a birthday do it with such finesse and aplomb that it shrinks from gargantuan to miniscule.
The train robbery, a staged event outside guests’ windows on the dusty roads and train tracks is truly exciting— the actors lightheartedly taunt passengers on board, drive from one location to the next and stage faux ‘shoot outs’, making a dramatic movie like atmosphere for guests. Witty names on the tombstones at the robbery site have us chuckling.
Through the ride, live actors come on and off board, chatting and engaging with guests, musicians play old favourites like ‘take me home, country road’, the tasty food is exactly what you want for brunch, and the Alberta prairies come alive – a truly authentic, vibrant experience!
Departs at 11am – approx. 2.5 hrs