CHARCUT Roast House has earned a slew of accolades since it opened in March 2010 in the swanky Hotel Le Germaine downtown. It’s again in the limelight as co-chef and co-owner Connie DeSousa is currently competing on Top Chef Canada.
I have to confess, I hate the name. I dislike that it’s ALL CAPS like I’m being yelled at. It annoys me that I’ve heard it pronounced Shar-cut (like a soft French sh), Char-cut (like a charbroiler), Shar-kyute, and Char-kyute. Mostly, it bothers me that I’m not as enamoured with CHARCUT as everyone seems to be.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the commitment to details, from the gorgeous restaurant to seasonal ingredients to a pure appreciation of meat. CHARCUT unabashedly displays carcasses in a windowed walk-in fridge. It has a built-in rotisserie and makes its own charcuterie. DeSousa can debone a pig’s head in four minutes. Hot.
I love the buzz and community it’s created with the Alley Burger. But dining in the restaurant left me lukewarm.
The food is good but it’s not outstanding. And at higher price points for smaller portions, I didn’t leave fully satisfied. I would heartily recommend CHARCUT for a light dinner, or drinks and appetizers, but not for a “I want to roll outta here with a full belly without breaking the bank.”
The bone marrow au gratin ($14) is an inspired offering for meat-lovers. The rich, gelatinous, buttery marrow is nicely contrasted with the crunchy au gratin top. This essence of meat goodness is definitely an acquired taste. Scooped with a tiny spoon, the marrow came with garlic brioche toast and a smart, understated parsley salad.
The indulgent poutine ($8) — made of fries fried in duck fat, cheese curds and truffle gravy — was delicious but barely enough to share a few bites between two people. Also tasty but too small were a beet salad ($9), cauliflower au gratin ($8) with a just-cracked egg, and housemade chorizo ($17).
The infamous Share Burger (which the Alley Burger is based on) is charged at $2.50 per ounce with a minimum order of 9 oz. That’s $22.50 minimum. The roasted garlic sausage patty is good, paired with cheese curds and a fried egg, but it’s not $22.50 good (even shared) — especially when you can try an individual serving for $5 if you’re willing to hang out in the alley. Yes, I’m cheap, sue me.
I was impressed with CHARCUT’s drinks. I really enjoyed the Appalachian ($10), made with apples from DeSousa’s backyard. The fruit is diced, then cooked with sugar, salt and pepper, then emulsified. A spoonful is mixed with Zubrowka Bison Grass vodka, crushed ice and prosecco. Beyond awesome.
Their martini (gin or vodka) ($14) also comes with three homemade bitters in cute, glass eye-dropper bottles. The bar menu, like the food menu, changes regularly.
CHARCUT Roast House, 899 Centre St. SW, Calgary, (403) 984-2180. Open Monday-Tuesday 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Wednesday-Friday 11 a.m.-1 a.m., Saturday 5 p.m.-1 a.m., Sunday 5-10 p.m.
Room for strollers: No
High chairs: Booster seats available
Ambiance: Very sleek, modern. Loud enough to mask baby noises but lunch/early dinner probably best times to bring children if you so choose.