Rge Rd, after a wait tinged with bated breath, is open. This dream-like space is a re-imagined farmhouse: somewhere where antique pulleys hang from the ceiling, copper pipes snake to and fro, mismatch chairs simply belong together, and a kitchen window peers over jam jars and into a brick oven. Yes, this urban farmstead of Blair Lebsack and Caitlin Fulton is, in their words, "at the intersection of farm, food, and friends."
A black cherry-rich bottle of Gamay Noir - gamays are too oft overlooked - sets things off on the right course. Gull Valley Tomato Salad's visual simplicity belies its gustatory complexity. Multi-hued tomatoes dance with basil and edible flowers and bespeak vibrant flavours too often absent from other tomatoes in this city.
Apple-Fennel Salad with Sausage is a riot of textures, the ratio of which changes with each successive bite. Sweet surprises of apple and licorice-laced fennel are interspersed with crickly-crackly morsels of cracklin'. The sausages on their own are juicy and delicate; addition of the aforementioned ingredients elevates them to another level entirely.
Lake-caught walleye (it is billed as "pickerel" on the menu, but from an icthyological perspective, walleye and pickerel are not the same species - they are not even in the same family of fish...but I digress...). Semantics and trivia aside, these perciform beauties loll under a sprinkle of ricotta and a vivid spoonful of green pea puree. The perfectly buttery fish flesh falls apart at the merest fork's touch. A few rotolo orbs rest underneath and are a dense, earthy contrast to the fish's airy essence.
Maple Verrine presents a bottom stratum of rum jelly topped with maple cream and finished with crisp hazelnut struesel. A fragile tuille is along for the ride. Pity that it's over so soon - so much flavour is packed into one tiny mason jar. Toasty-nutty struesel, velvet maple mantle, and understated rum core.
Indeed, this intersection of farm, food and friends more than exceeds the atmosphere of yearning anticipation that preceded its opening. Better yet, the menu is poised to change on a whim, and is shaped to the ingredients available, rather than vice versa. Isn't that how it should be in the first place?