|Chef Connie DeSousa of Charcut & Lisa Ng|
First of all, I have to comment on how cool and friendly Chef Connie DeSousa is. She is this tiny female chef with a wide smile that is making meat awesome as a culinary ambassador for Calgary. Connie took the time to ask about my visit and even suggested a lovely fondue restaurant for my first trip up to Banff. My first encounter with Charcut was during the Paul Hardy 10th Anniversary Party where I came across these homemade sticks of pork jerky wrapped in cute little bundles with butcher's twine. It was very inventive and different from the usual cocktail party fare. I kept coming back to the station over and over again and vowed to make a stop at Charcut during my next visit to Calgary.
Since my dining companion, Michael Morrison of Mike's Bloggity Blog were both driving that night - the bartender made us these mocktails that were sweet and sour with an underlying strawberry note. Mike and I have been friends since we both traveled to Spain to see Coldplay and whenever I visit Calgary, he acts as my personal tour guide and is such a lovely host for the city. I'm really lucky to have a friend like Mike.
CHAR stands for the custom built rotisserie and charbroiler and CUT for the vintage-style slicer and hand-crafted charcuterie bar. The menu strives to be as local as possible working with artisan farmers and ranchers. We started with a salad of Slow Roasted Heirloom Beets ($9, above) with house-made organic cheese. The beets were perfectly cooked and paired simply with mint and basil.
Next up was the Pig Head Mortadella and Brassica Mustard ($9, above). I know what you're thinking already, "Woah there, little lady. Did you just say pig head?" Yes I did and it's delicious. Don't think too hard on the pig head part. Think of the glorious thinly sliced cold cuts that are studded with pistachios and truffles that is best when accompanied with a glistening loaf of homemade brioche buns. Spread on some local Alberta mustard and dip away in a fondue of Warm Raclette Cheese ($16, above)
I will pretty much eat anything but blood sausage and
snails - escargot. I tried the escargot above and I just really can't get into the earthy and chewy texture of snails - but then I have no problem eating tripe and chicken feet. Just me and snails - we don't mix. The bone marrow on the other hand is like creamy meaty butter. Spread that goodness on a piece of a toasty bread and sprinkle with salt. Now THIS I could eat forever. Bone Marrow & Escargot au Gratin ($14, above).
I love the presentation above of Charcut's 'urban rustic' cuisine. Connie chose her favourites for us and sent them all over on a big cutting board doubling as an oversized platter. In the top left hand corner is the Duck Fat Poutine ($8) with fries fried in duck fat and then topped with luscious cheese curds and truffle gravy.
Clockwise right, is the Fire Grilled Ewe-Nique Lamb Leg ($29) with shelling beans, gremolata and fiddleheads. Bottom right is rustic mini creuset pot of Charcut's Smashed Poplar Bluff Potatoes ($9) that are served up with house-cured bacon and rosemary. Bottom centre is a Chopped Romaine Salad ($13) and finally my favourite - Slow Roasted Heritage Chicken ($19, quarter or $28 for half). This is my MUST order from the whole meal. Juicy rotisserie chicken topped with pickled fennel, apple and bacon. Give the whole thing a good squeeze of lemon and it's heaven.
Did we save room for a dessert? Well at least just a bite of each! Mike and I plowed into the Raspberry Cheesecake in a Jar ($8), Maple Milk Tea Panna Cotta with brown butter sable cookies ($8) - the BEST. Finally we each finished with a homemade chocolate chip cookie.
Go to Charcut. Go! Go! Go! It's my new favourite restaurant when in Calgary. Reservations are a must.
Charcut Roast House
101, 899 Centre Street SW
Inside Hotel Le Germain Calgary