Rating Service 9/10, Food 9.5/10
On a recent visit to Calgary, we couldn't pass up stopping by Charcut again. Though we had reviewed Charcut a little while back, they had changed up their menu, so we made reservations and stopped on by for dinner. This time, we circled around to the back of restuarant before going in, to have a look at the infamous "backdoor" where you can stop by for an "alley burger" - if you keep an eye on their twitter feed or facebook, they sell a $5 late night charcut share burger renamed alley burger every now and then, well, because you have to wait in line in the alley. Sadly, the little wood piggy sign they usually swing out to indicate "alley burgers for sale now" was missing... that little piggy a good 3 meters off the ground - I guess went to market and definetely didn't stay home. Service was excellent - our waiter was enthusiastic, even going to the back to check if they still had some of the menu items we had last time prepped in the kitchen.
The Appalachian was too tasty to pass up, so we all skipped on the wine (a decent selection) and ordered a round of them. The buttery caramelized apple bits at the bottom.. mmmmmm... liquid apple pie. Next time, I'll order it virgin as the Zubrowka Bison vodka gives it too much of a kick in the teeth and liquid lightening in the tummy with the first sip. Hmmm... if I could get away with it, I'll just get a punchbowl of the caramelized apple bits. Nom.
We picked a few of our favourites, and added in a couple of new items this time around. The steak was sadly gone from the menu, so we replaced it with the prime rib, and tried vainly to leave space for dessert. Being just four of us, we ordered a variety of appetizers and entrees with sharing plates so we didn't have to sneak bites off each other's plates.
Warm Quebec raclette cheese
Melted into an ooey gooey perfection and served with freshly baked tender soft and sweet brioche buns.. the only complaint my fellow foodies had was that we wished the little pot of cheesey goodness was bigger as the rich mellow cheese vanished like magic. Thankfully we ordered two pots between the four of us, so there was enough to go around. The brioche buns disappeared faster than the cheese, so we creatively gooped it on some of the crustini's that came with the...
Arugula and Tuna Conserva
Think preserved lemon slices, fresh tuna chunks and new baby potatos crammed into a jar and pickled, served with a small argula salad and plently of in house made crustinis. Light, fork tender fish was balanced on the palate. The flavors and acidity of the preserved lemon melded nicely with little diced crisp tender potatos and when served with the crustinis, made for an explosion of textures in the mouth. It was reminicient of sneaking a bite of preserves out of grandma's pickling jars when we were young, this time around, you're never certain if you'll get a tasty chunk of creamy tuna, a piece of potato or preserved lemon rind. The argula salad was a bit of an afterthought, but lent some color to the plate.
Duck fat fried poutine with cheese curds and truffled gravy
Now if this isn't a dish that would make any personal trainer not only roll over in their graves, but spin like a top, I don't know what would. Translation: take handcut potatoes, fry in fat rendered from countless ducks, then top with cheese curds and a truffle infused gravy. The rich, silky smooth gravy had so much truffle oil, I think my clothing smelled like truffles after. (Not that, that wasn't a bad thing *sniffffff!* mmm.) Super dooper indulgently amazing. We kept on picking at the dish long after we were full, with the hot cast iron pan keeping the gravy and cheese (young mozzerella, not true squeeky cheese curds) nice and melty to the end. The French were right, you can always make things better with more wine, butter, duck fat and truffles. Nom!
In house made garlic sasauge with in house made grainy mustard
I'm a total sucker for homemade mustards, and I wasn't disappointed with this one. Grainy with plently of seeds, the mild and sweet mustard had a light pickley acidic bite to it that worked well with the homemade garlic sasuage. The lean sausage had a hint of garlic and a casing that yielded with a pleasant snap. I think we ate all of the mustard long before the sasuage disappeared. Heehee.. oops.
Bone marrow and escargot au gratin
Small tender bits of pefectly cooked de-shelled escargot luxuriated and picked up the flavors of the rich marrow juices of the large bone cut lengthwise. The entire indulgent dish was tied together with a basting of garlic butter. Sadly, our bone was split unevenly, so we only had a small taste of bone marrow, so that meant someone else in the restaurant was probably estastic they had a bone full of fatty rich marrow.... waaaah! Ah well, more tummy room for dessert.
Share Burger Charcut style
The burger was juicy, a mix of beef, chicken skin bits and seasonings grilled to a well done and served with a fried sunny side up egg, and a side of pickled carrots. It was came with freshly baked brioche buns and placed on the same platter as the Spit roasted Spring Creek prime rib to faciliatate sharing. The prime rib is aged in house, seasoned lightly, spit roasted to a medium rare and served with a small jar of au jus and a small platter of grated fresh horseradish. While the prime rib was tender, I was surprised a rather large chunk of fat wasn't removed prior to cooking, and the meat could be improved by marinating the meat rather than just seasoning the outside. Compared to everything else on their menu, I was surprised so little attention was paid to this excellent cut of meat.
It would be a crime not to have dessert, even though we didn't have very much tummy space left... so we finished off with the vanilla creme brulee and mini chocolate chip cookies. The cookies were warm and almost oozing with chocolate and butter. While they didn't pair well with the vanilla creme brulee, they were still quite tasty. The creme brulee had a thick caramelized burnt sugar topping which took a bit of stabbing to crack to reveal a smooth creamy oh so yummy vanilla bean studded interior. Nom!
Still one of the best avant garde places in Calgary to have an excellent dinner with friends or family, with many of the charcuterie items aged/pickled/smoked.cured/roasted in house. The kitchen is versatile, and encourages patrons to share plates which makes it a great choice both for dinner with friends and family alike. I can't wait until their dry aged steak is back on the menu... and I'm curious to see how well Chef Connie has done on Top Chef Canada - the staff and Connie can't reveal anything until Food Network broadcasts the results.. stay tuned!
Charcut RoasthouseAddress 101 899 Centre Street SW Calgary, AB
Phone (403) 984-2180
Hours varies, check website
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