Highland's Garden Cafe was a neighborhood staple and special-occasion destination for nearly twenty years on West 32nd Avenue, taking up residence in two joined Victorian houses surrounded by beautiful flower gardens that were as much of an attraction as the restaurant's charming dining rooms and old-world menu. When it closed in 2013 and the property went on the market, owner Pat Perry advertised it as a "turnkey restaurant space." That key turned slowly after Mark Ferguson and Andrea Faulisi Ferguson bought the place, but their new restaurant, Solitaire, is finally opening tonight at 5 p.m., following an extensive remodel that includes a new facade, entryway and enclosed wraparound porch where outdoor cafe seating once existed.
Neighbors will be delighted to see that the gardens are still there and as lovely as ever; much of the older growth, like lilac bushes and trellis roses, has been preserved, and spring bulbs are in full bloom. The restaurant takes its name from the Solitaire food company, which Ferguson's great-great-grandfather, Chester Stephen Morey, owned in Denver in the early 1900s.
Ferguson's past experience includes executive-chef positions for Wolfgang Puck at Spago in Vail and Las Vegas. His crew includes chefs Steve Maline and Chris Humphrey, while the front of the house will be run by general manager Mark Yaeger and supervisor Amanda Groves, with Ben Carrington behind the bar. While a menu has yet to be posted on Solitaire's website, glimpses of what diners can expect can be seen in the restaurant's photo gallery.