Alberta’s big cities are attracting a lot of attention these days for their increasingly exquisite restaurant culture – and in Edmonton’s case, a world-class pizza selection. But the province’s epicurean excellence extends beyond the borders of its largest municipalities. So head out on the open road to these rural gems. It’s worth the drive.
We can confirm that the food at the Bruce Hotel in Bruce, a community of around 71 people about an hour and a half east of Edmonton, is absolutely worth the drive. That’s because, about 200 Edmontonians make that drive almost every Friday night to fill their bellies with Debbie Boyd’s steak and buffet dinners. Still, we were a bit surprised when Alberta Venture readers voted Boyd’s steaks Alberta’s Best Barbecue. Not only did the Bruce Hotel beat out 31 other spectacular restaurants for that title, it won by a lot.
The Bavarian Inn in Bragg Creek, about 40 minutes from Calgary, is renown for its authentic German-style schnitzel and sausage. And if that hearty food isn’t enough to entice you, check out their award-winning wine selection.
Stone Peak Restaurant at the Overlander Mountain Lodge near Jasper, about three hours from Edmonton, not only boasts the largest wine list between Edmonton and Banff, but it also features one of the best patios in the province with clear views of the mountains.
But that’s not the only reason Stone Peak is worth the trip. Chef-sommelier couple Cory and Shivawn LeDrew have turned their attention to updating the restaurant’s menu and wine list since taking over management of the hotel about a year and a half ago. And they’re including a lot more hyperlocal ingredients on the list, such as homemade jams, and honey made from their very own beehives. They’re also growing their own herbs, building a greenhouse and partnering with local farmers to make their menu as fresh as possible. Come for the view, stay for the fresh herb vinaigrette and pan-seared Arctic char.
You may know Edmonton’s Rge Rd for its locally sourced, super fresh meals — and for consistently ranking among the best overall restaurants in Edmonton. But did you know Rge Rd also hosts dreamy outdoor meals at Prairie Gardens farm in Bon Accord, about 45 minutes north of the city. Despite their hefty price tag — $172.23 a pop — tickets sell out fast. So you know it’s worth the trip. And if that isn’t enough to convince you, the summer menu features duck leg ragu, green gnocchi (made from kale, peas and pecorino), and a dessert called Strawberries from Heaven. All that under sunny skies, what more could you ask for?
MacKay’s Ice Cream in Cochrane, about 35-50 minutes from Calgary, has been around for nearly 70 years, and its fair to say its been a destination for Calgarians for about the same amount of time. The ice cream store’s creative flavour combinations and delectable 17 per cent fat (as opposed to the typical 10 per cent) content makes it an irresistible treat. And not just in the summer: MacKay’s has flavours for fall, too, such as chai, rum and eggnog, and pumpkin.