Home on the Range
From farm to fork – fresh foods dominate this new restaurant.
Photography by Darren Jacknisky
RGE RD‘s cozy space consists of a mere 12 tables and four intimate seats at the bar. The setting is rustic chic, with sawed wooden logs in wall alcoves filling in for paintings and industrial lights hanging from rope tied to a wooden bar. The chairs at each wooden table are deliberately mismatched. It’s much cleaner than any barn I’ve ever been in, but it has a similar simple, laid-back, country vibe.
The dcor matches the restaurant’s concept – farm fresh food enjoyed with close friends. Prior to opening the restaurant, chef and owner Blair Lebsack held RGE RD dinners at various farms across rural Alberta for two summers. Now, you don’t have to venture into the countryside to dig into one of Lebsack’s creations made from local ingredients.
Adventurous eaters will love the Questionable Bits, an always-changing appetizer of often-overlooked parts of animal – tonight, it’s chicken liver tucked into a creamy, decadent risotto. It’s topped with paper-thin slices of zucchini and shredded pecorino cheese and served right in the pot. The rich risotto melts in my mouth, while the tender pieces of chicken liver pair nicely with the sharp sheep’s cheese.
For those nights when creamy dishes seem too heavy, dig into a lighter but still unique dish, such as the sweet pea Alberta pickerel. It’s freshwater white fish seeped in a tomato nage (broth), surrounded by zucchini salad and rotolo and topped with a vibrant green sweet pea puree. While the very soft fish is perfectly cooked, it’s the rotolo (Italian for “coil”) pasta that catches my dining companion’s attention with its savoury flavour.
Even meat eaters will be impressed with the Prairie Gardens potato lasagna. This vegetarian dish is comprised of thin sheets of potato that are strong enough to hold layers of soft eggplant, tangy onion and tomato. It’s a subtle dish that is topped with bits of roasted cauliflower and paired with a creamy sauce.