Local dining as it should be, An unforgettable birthday dinner at Rge Rd.
10643 – 123 St,
Although “as it should be” may sound like a slightly snobbish description of a dining experience, in the case of Rge Rd, a relatively new restaurant taking residence in what used to be the home of the Blue Pear, it is all too well deserved. Every bite I took that blistery October night is a bite i won’t soon forget. For some reason, my brain is just wired that way. Dentist appointment next Monday? better put that in my phone. That exam I took three days ago? I don’t remember a single question. The marinated mackerel dish I ate in Venice with my parents on a foggy, Friday afternoon when I was eight? Well, you get the picture. The better the overall dining experience and of course, the better the food, the longer it’ll stay in the deep dark foodie recesses of my mind. This was definitely one of those meals.
The first thing I noticed when we entered the main dining room of the restaurant was it’s charming decor. The windows are large, giving luminosity to the space and on the wall just parallel, there are shelves made of firewood resting on a gorgeous expanse of red brick. The restaurant’s hardwood floors, hanging light-bulb chandeliers and quirky bathrooms (which you have to see for yourself, trust me on this one) just add to the cozy effect, making the restaurant feel welcoming before you’ve even had your first bite. If they had a fireplace, I’d feel like i was sitting in my own living room, which mind you, is a good thing. Not only that however, Rge Rd feels truly Albertan, each architectural element somehow reminding me of the prairies, wheat, cattle and the simple beginnings of local Western Canadian cuisine.
The menu also reflects this locality and respect to Canadian heritage as it features mostly local ingredients and decidedly Albertan foods such as dandelion greens and edible prairie flowers. I took one glance at the white sheet before me and knew. An earnest lover of fish and anything eggplant, I ordered the pan-fried trout with black barley and tomato and eggplant jus. My father had the bison with walnuts, kohlrabi and smoked bone marrow and my mother had the steak with mashed potatoes and a beef & mushroom ragu that came in it’s own saucepan and was poured separately onto the plate by a waiter. She says it was exquisite, the meat so tender it didn’t even need cutting, and I believe her, judging by how quickly she chowed down.I managed to steal a bit of bison from my father, which was moist and probably the most tender bison I’ve had in a while. I didn’t manage to snag a bite of his marrow as the fish I’d ordered had arrived and it deserved my full attention.
The trout was simply seasoned with salt & pepper (as it should be) and lovingly pan-fried, with crispy skin so incredible, if it was ever packaged, I’d consider buying a lifetime supply to have in my purse for snack attacks and bad days. The succulent meat hiding underneath the skin was just as delicious, flaking effortlessly against my fork and almost melting into the tomato and eggplant jus, which was well balanced in acidity and sweetness to contrast the fattiness of the fish. The barley added the much needed chewy component as well as a nutty note and the fresh herbs topping the dish brought it all together – truly a masterpiece. I only wish there had been more food on my plate because I could have easily eaten several plates of what I’d ordered and I’m not exactly a big person. Considering the price of the entree, I expected a bit more. Granted, I have to admit that I didn’t leave hungry but rather satiated.
In terms of complaints, I really only have one – the lack of bread. In my opinion, when the food is that good, it’s almost sacrilegious to have to leave it’s juices on the plate. I had the Township oaked chardonnay to go with my meal and my parents had beer, both of them opting for Mill Street Belgian Wit, which might just be my new favorite beer (and I’m not even a beer girl, unless it’s 80% grapefruit juice, which makes me liking, scratch that, loving a beer, a tremendous feat).
Overall, a lovely experience. I wouldn’t recommend this restaurant to the thrifty diner or to anyone looking for big portions but as a special event venue or a place to catch up with the girls over appetizers and beers, I would definitely recommend it. Will I remember my fish ten years from now? you bet I will.