Lacombe has long been my favourite Alberta town (it’s officially now a city, but with only 12,000 residents, it still has that small-town feel). What I particularly like is the preservation and restoration of many downtown brick buildings and stately Edwardian houses that line its wide, shady streets. You can read all about it in my Day Trips From Calgary book (new edition scheduled for 2017).
Now, there’s another reason for pulling off the frenetic Highway 2, halfway between Calgary and Edmonton. In the past couple of years, Lacombe has seriously stepped up its culinary scene, perhaps even surpassing the dining wilderness of the nearby, much larger Red Deer.
Want to know what the inside of those historic Lacombe houses looks like? Just step into Morrison House Café, where two rooms of a 1919 colonial-revival residence have been converted into an elegant space offering good soups and sandwiches on house-baked breads and croissants. Save room for some delectable oatmeal cake or bread pudding.
Speaking of elegant, Sweet Capone’s is a wee downtown shop specializing in Italian pastries such as cannoli, pesche dolci (peach cookies) and Florentines. Sound a bit fancy for a town built on farming? Would you believe there are lineups for these confections, which often sell out by early afternoon?
Queues are also de rigueur for the big, oven-roasted turkey and beef sandwiches at Eastside Eatery, in a Lacombe industrial park. I wrote about this fast, affordable, fabulous place in last week’s post.
Cilantro and Chive is a recent transplant, moving to downtown Lacombe after its lease expired in Ponoka, to the near north. It features innovative, chef-driven takes on standards, witness the braised duck wings, pulled-pork mac ‘n cheese, bison burgers and smoked trout and kale spaghettini.
Here’s the clincher. Lacombe now boasts its own craft brewery, Blindman Brewing, cooking up things like cask-conditioned sour beers and Belgian-style saisons.
I wonder how much those Edwardian houses are selling for?
Morrison House Cafe
5331 51 Avenue, Lacombe, Alberta
Tuesday to Saturday 11 am-3:30 pm. Closed Sunday and Monday
5010 50 Avenue
Tuesday to Saturday 10 am-4 pm. Closed Sunday and Monday
3, 4013 53 Avenue, Lacombe, Alberta
Weekdays 8 am-3 pm. Closed weekends
Cilantro and Chive
5021 50 Street
Monday to Wednesday 11 am-9 pm, Thursday to Saturday 11 am-11 pm. Closed Sunday
Bay F, 3413 53 Avenue
Opens at 2 pm Tuesday to Friday and at noon Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday