RGE RD may be one of the newest restaurants in Edmonton, but chef and owner Blair Lebsack and his managing partner, Caitlin Fulton, already have their routine down pat. Lebsack thinks up innovative dishes, while Fulton ensures things are running smoothly, so guests can enjoy their dinners.
They strive to bring food that’s been grown at local farms to urban dwellers through their intimate restaurant, located in the old Blue Pear space. The menu features items such as the pan seared Manitoba or Alberta pickerel and the Pilatus Farms bison. The most exciting dish is generally the Questionable Bits, which is a constantly changing item that strives to promote whole-animal cooking. One night, it could be a rich chicken liver risotto with pecorino and the next, it might be beef heart. Despite the newness of the place and the seasonal menu, the servers already have a strong command of the cuisine and daily specials, and are always prepared with a good vino recommendation. The space is warm, inviting and cozy, with its wooden interior dimly lit by industrial bulbs and decorated with real sheepskin shag throws and neutral pillows. The result is fine dining that doesn’t feel stuffy or pretentious – instead, diners enjoy great food made with top-quality, local ingredients. –S.B.
10643 123 St., 780-447-4577, rgerd.ca
Larry Stewart has been a long-time fixture on the Edmonton food scene thanks to the success of the Hardware Grill, but with the opening of Tavern 1903, he showed us that he can reinvent himself. With an ultra-modern menu that features plenty of small plates and playful takes on pub food, Stewart has created a high-end experience that almost sneaks up on you. You’re sharing drinks with friends and then you notice just how good all the food is. There are influences of Latin, Asian and Italian in the menu, among other countries; but you can have the duck tacos, or the mozzarella and bacon jam from the cheese menu – and it still feels cohesive. And decadent. -S.S
9802 Jasper Ave., 780-424-0152, tavern1903.com
Since December 2012, Izakaya Tomo has been providing Edmonton with the Japanese tradition of pairing small plates with beer and sake. Everything about this place – decor, menu, atmosphere – gives the impression of an authentic Japanese restaurant. Japanese pop music bounces out of the speakers, placing guests in the bustling centre of Tokyo. The serving staff is incredibly knowledgeable about the dishes and drinks and the proper way to marry the two, whether it’s unfiltered sake with tuna tataki or full-bodied sake with the sashimi salad. And somehow, the sashimi always seems freshly caught, even at 2 a.m. when the restaurant closes its doors. -Eric Silver
3739 99 St., 780-440-9152, izakayatomo.net