Throughout the summer, we closely followed the progress of a new, upscale-looking establishment in Bradford. The day we first saw the sign, we knew we’d have to make it a Ride to Eat destination. So one date-night Saturday, we made our way to The Highlands Fine Food & Whiskey House.
Located right along IL 40, The Highlands is a noticeable new addition to Main Street. The exterior reminds me a lot of the Irish Cottage Boutique & Hotel, our favorite place to stay in Galena.
He previously had stopped to check the place out, so I already had heard a bit about it before walking in. I particularly was intrigued by the idea of the “whiskey desk.” We took a couple spots at the bar, sipped our drinks and ordered dinner.
The menu is limited but fantastic, offering eight “Starters,” 11 entrees and six sides. Among the more distinctive items are the Scotch Egg (hard boiled, wrapped with sausage and deep fried), Reuben Dip (with rye chips), Chicken Oscar (topped with crabmeat and Hollandaise) and Wood-Fired Duck Breast (topped with cherry walnut sauce). They also have a separate lunch menu and a Sunday Brunch — we’ll definitely have to return soon!
While we waited for our meals, I wandered over to the “whiskey desk,” which was full of various fine whiskies. I know quite a few people who have to try this place.
Before I knew it, my salad arrived and was the quality starter I’d expect from such a restaurant. I especially liked the extra little somethin’ the green peas added.
Our meals soon were presented, and oh my! I had the Wood-Fired Rainbow Trout that’s stuffed with lobster risotto and au gratin potatoes. The fish was light and cooked to perfection. The creamy risotto was an excellent pairing that added a lovely subtle sweetness to the dish. The au gratin was so naughty — a crisp, cheesy crust covered layer upon layer of thin-sliced potatoes and more cheese. I definitely was left wanting more.
He tried the special, the Scallops en Papillote, which looked amazing! To get started, he slowly opened the parchment, revealing gorgeous scallops served with asparagus, red onion, diced bacon and horseradish sauce. He reports the scallops were “so tender, the sauce amazing — it all was terrific.” I managed to sneak a forkful of his garlic mashed potatoes. Having more of a classic smashed texture, they had a nice balance of garlic that didn’t overwhelm.
Both our meals also came with sautéed Brussels sprouts with bacon. Cooked well, they tasted a bit like cabbage but not enough for me to have more than one. (Of course, I generally don’t enjoy veggies.)
Opting to pass on dessert in favor of the homemade ice cream at our house, we paid our bill and headed out. It was a lovely night for ride, and as twilight faded into darkness, we each noticed a different bright body in the sky. Upon arriving home, I had to look up what they were and learned we had seen Mars and Venus — how cool!
Note: The Highlands is found at 176 W. Main Street in Bradford, Ill., and opens daily at 10 a.m.