From the rustic chic decor to the small menu loaded with local ingredients and imaginative combinations, everything about RGE RD exudes authentic farm charm. Owner, chef and Avenue Top 40 Under 40 alumnus Blair Lebsack, along with partner and front of house manager, Caitlin Fulton, created RGE RD out of a desire to give city dwellers access to their farm dinners – done several times a year around rural Alberta. And in RGE RD, a charming space with wooden tables, deliberately mismatched chairs and rustic beams, they have done just that.
Everything on the menu is fresh, adventurous and changes seasonally. It’s like eating at a friend’s log cabin – a friend who just happens to be an award-winning chef. While you might have to wait a week to get a table, there is simply none of the pretention that often goes along with fine dining. However, the restaurant still maintains an aura of fine dining – high-quality food that’s elegantly plated and served by prompt and friendly staff. As you look around the room of content diners, you realize that you are lucky to be there, experiencing food fresh from the land. -Sydnee Bryant
10643 123 St., 780-447-4577, rgerd.ca
There are two distinct halves to Tavern 1903. On one side, you’ll find a saloon, which makes you feel like you should have one hand on your holster while you ask the bartender for a bourbon or, better yet, one of the tastiest takes on an Old Fashioned you’ll find in Edmonton. (And, of course, you should never sit with your back to the door.) On the other side is a modern restaurant, where the fare is inventive and playful. The raves have been flowing since Hardware Grill’s Larry Stewart opened this new casual spot in the summer of 2013. The best way to enjoy Tavern 1903 is to order a lot of the small plates and share, share, share. The mozzarella bar sees the cheese dressed up with a variety of condiments. And decadent treats like the Korean fried cauliflower, duck tacos and crab cakes will have the table fighting over who gets the last piece. -Steven Sandor
9802 Jasper Ave., 780-424-0152, tavern1903.com
People complain about needing an advance reservation for Corso 32 but there’s an upside: The anticipation is almost as delicious as the food. Once you finally squeeze into this 32-seat Italian restaurant, it’s worth the wait. Every bite of the juicy roasted game hen with delectable burned butter and sage reminds you of how you longed for this moment. The efficient service lets you know the staff realizes you’ve bided your time and expect a perfect evening – and they deliver. From the exquisite roasted hazelnuts on your fennel and arugula antipasta to the best (handmade, no less) pasta of your life, every detail has been carefully planned and succinctly executed. Once you finish your intensely rich chocolate torta and reluctantly leave, anticipation begins building again. Don’t say you haven’t been warned. -S.B
10345 Jasper Ave., 780-421-4622, corso32.com
While The Marc’s menu has gone through some minor changes in the past year, it retains all of its French charm. The lunch menu is concise and full of quality items – every dish, from the hearty smoked salmon potato salad to the succulent grilled flank steak, is a sure bet. Of course, any meal will only be enhanced by the restaurant’s hand-cut frites with rich, decadent truffle aioli. (Try to resist the urge to order extra aioli – unless you don’t count calories.) The downtown lunch crowd brings an energetic buzz to the room, and service remains efficient and quick no matter how busy it gets – but staff will never rush you out the door either. In the evening, the atmosphere turns soft and romantic, and the menu diversifies to offer even more delectable options. -S.B.
9940 106 St., 780-429-2828, themarc.ca
A modern, high-ceilinged spot in Oliver Square, just a couple of rows from the Safeway, wouldn’t immediately be equated with Old World charms. But Cibo continues to build a reputation as a place for inventive Italian cooking. The lunch menu changes weekly; the dinner menu changes every few months. Expect to see a lot of lighter fare in the warmer months, such as game and seafood, and then heartier, slow-cooked red-meat dishes in the winter. Cibo’s pasta is house made, and it’s buttery and divine. The meatballs are delicate and plump. The homemade charcuterie is excellent. But, no matter what items are on chef Rosario Caputo’s menu, Cibo’s raison d’tre is to combine both modern and rustic styles of Italian cooking, giving you more reasons to visit the mall than to stop at an ATM. -S.S.
11244 104 Ave., 780-757-2426, cibobistro.com