CHARCUT – off to a great start

 

 

It’s no secret that going out to eat is one of my favorite things to do, right up there with skiing and reading, and people, that says a lot. I’m one of those travelers that will have a ‘must eat’ list before going on a trip, although I don’t plan every meal, that would be anal. Just a list of several restaurants that define a city, from big names to hole in the wall gems. Often I came back from those vacations and cried because they reached a level of awesomeness rarely seen in Cowtown. So it was in the spirit of low expectations that I checked out Calgary’s newest restaurant last Thursday, and it was surprisingly awesome.

Having been open for only two days when my friend Vanessa and I descended on it, they were still a bit unprepared in the drinks department, especially when it came to anything other than wine – no beer kegs yet, no hard cider, no soda for a highball, but undeterred we requested a caesar. It was rather serviceable as my friend put  – worse than Spur and better than the Keg. They must have been out of veggies too, as it arrived unadorned with beans, celery or asparagus – namely the best parts of a caesar.  But they were JUST opened, so can’t really complain.

The menu was quirky and fabulous  – bone marrow gratin (in Calgary!), romaine with crispy chicken skin, arugula and tuna conserva with lemon pickled new potatoes and shaved celery, baked raclette… and although it was hard to decide, ya gotta start somewhere, so we went with carnivore’s delight -  the bone marrow gratin, duck fat poutine, and the share burger – a min. 9 oz order of a garlic sausage burger topped with an egg.

 

 

 

This was my friends’ first time with the bone marrow, and luckily she’s an adventurous soul – it consists of two thick rounds of bone, seasoned lightly and broiled, served with flakes of parsley to cut the richness, flakes of sea salt for crunch and to bring out the flavor and thin crostini. The marrow was as divine as expected – warm, rich, beefy and robust. (For the uninitiated souls the texture is similar to soft boiled eggs’ egg yolk and the taste is not unlike bread and drippings, or dragging your bread through the bottom of a roast dish.) The crostini appeared to be buttered though, which is a bit of overkill since beef marrow itself is intensely rich. (Yeah, go ahead and ask for more crostini right away – four is just not enough.)

 

 

The duck fat fried poutine was… ducky. A small dish of thick, hand cut fries with a mild duck fat flavor and just a bit less gravy than it should have had. It was well seasoned, and had the fries been crisper and the gravy more bountiful it would have reached greatness.

 

 

The burger was not a traditional beef burger, but a sausage burger as stated on the menu. A thick patty charred on the outside and cooked to medium on the inside it was one of the most satisfying burgers I’ve had in a while. Topped with a sunny side up egg which slowly dripped over the meat and served on golden brioche it was just an embarrassment of riches when it comes to flavor. I’m almost reluctant to admit that in the midst of this carnivorous nirvana I actually wouldn’t have minded some tomatoes or pickles on the side – just to cut the richness. But no worries – I ordered a second caesar instead.

 

 

The portions are on the small side which led me to wonder at the outset whether we ordered enough food, and I’m happy to say my concerns were unfounded. The three dishes we shared left us very comfortably full, on the verge of stuffed really, and according to all witness accounts we eat like lumberjacks, so believe me when I tell you that three dishes between two people is plenty. Of course we did go all out on the meat front – had we ordered some lighter fare we might have had some room for dessert, which sounded just as original and fun as the menu – Saskatoon berries layered in a jar with cheese cake and graham crackers anyone?  Alas we did not, so it will be with pleasure that I’ll be returning there in the weeks to come to see Charcut come into their own and be an extremely worthy and welcome addition to the Calgary scene.

 

CHARCUT Roast House (Opening February 2010) on Urbanspoon

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15 comments to CHARCUT – off to a great start

  • Jean

    I am not as adventurous as you or V, but I’d love to check out the place! I still love my beef just more on the traditional side. ;p Sounds delish. Thanks for the enticing review.

  • admin

    Don’t worry, their aged steak is wonderful too, according to another review. We should definitely head over there shortly :)

  • Sounds like an interesting menu. I tend to be fussy so would be steering away from bone marrow.

  • Thanks for the review Tatiana. I’ve been waiting to try CharCut since speaking with the owners at the RMWFF.
    I do like the look of the menu and since they seem to be worth the visit I’ll have to move them up my list.

  • admin

    @ Teena – no worries, it’s not for everyone, that’s for sure.

    @ RuneRider – I was quite impressed. The menu is so creative and offbeat, and the quality so far is impressive. I can’t wait to see them evolve.

  • calgary girl

    the poutine was tasteless worst i have ever had.the burger tasted like it was made form old pork meat. Only WOW part was the pickled potatoes. Shame after all the Hype Char Cut turned out to be a BIG let down.

  • admin

    I’m sorry to hear that, the poutine was the weakest of the three dishes we tried, but it was not unfixable. The burger though is made of garlic sausage meat, were you expecting a fresh meat patty by chance? I think after they iron out their minor kinks they’d be a very strong meat eaters stronghold.

  • deflorist

    I have been several times to Charcut and have found everything excellent

  • admin

    Awesome, I can’t wait to go back!

  • Carnivore

    The portions are definitely not small. In comparison to all the places around and their prices, Charcut is definitely the best bet on price, amount and taste. The poutine was fantastic, i myself prefer to taste all of it instead of a bowl of gravy, but thats personal opinion. I would encourage all to go back again as this place is one i would not easily dismiss. Lovely atmosphere and great location make this place a gem in calgary. I’m sorry your experience was not as pleasureable as mine.

  • admin

    Carnivore – reading comprehension rocks…. never mind.

  • KaTHY

    We went to char cut this evening. It took 45 minutes to take our order then at 715 they told us to finish our food and we didn’t have time for dessert. They had the table reserved for another party at 730. I have never been kicked our of a table due to poor scheduling of a facility.

  • admin

    That totally sucks, sounds like they dropped the ball. Did you try the manager at that stage? Sounds like something they should address.

  • Thanks for your review! :) Your blog is awesome! I went to Charcut at the end of May, and everything was PERFECT! I want to go back soon, especially for the screening of Canadas Top Chef! :) I think it would be fun! Here’s my experience at Charcut

  • admin

    Hey Elsie – just checked out your review, sounds phenomenal. Some of the items on their menu now weren’t even around back then, which is awesome – you’ll never get bored. I need to go back too, I’m overdue for a visit. Thanks for stopping by!

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