Last week we visited Richard’s sister and her family in Calgary. Most of our trip was dedicated to spending time with the family, but we still managed to make some foodie excursions. One of those excursions was a lunch at CHARCUT Roast House.
We arrived just as the office lunch crowd was leaving carrying little brown bags filled with warm cookies, a favourite dessert. We settled in and marveled at the beer fridge. They had a fantastic selection of international and local brews in bottle, and they had some great local microbrew options on draft as well.
My sister-in-law had been to CHARCUT before and was disappointed to discover that the lunch menu didn’t feature the duck poutine, which she said was a must. We asked our server and he returned shortly after with a dish that I could smell before I saw it. It definitely had truffle oil in it. Not just a stingy amount, either. There was a potent smell and flavour of it in the gravy. As always I would have liked to have a bit more gravy and cheese curds (can you ever really have too much?) but there was a fairly generous amount of both, and the crispiness of the fries held up to the gravy well. This is probably one of the best poutines I’ve ever had. Definitely ask for this even if it’s not on the menu. You won’t regret it.
My lunch was the Spit-Roasted Spring Creek Prime Rib sandwich. It had Quebec cheese and grainy mustard on it, and it came with a bowl of jus for dipping. I absolutely loved this sandwich. I normally wouldn’t order a beef sandwich because I tend to find them dry and boring, but we were in Calgary and in Calgary you eat beef. I was very pleasantly surprised. The beef was flavourful and moist, with just the right amount of smokiness and saltiness. I also love that they grate cheese over their fries.
Richard ordered the Country Sausage, which had slow-roasted caramelized onions and peppers on a comically tiny bun. Before we ordered, our server explained that this was CHARCUT’s take on a German sausage, where the sausage sticks out from both ends and the bun is really just so that you don’t have to hold the sausage in your bare hands. We were both imagining something like a hot dog bun with a few inches of sausage sticking out from either end, but this is what we got. The sausage was expertly crafted and I kind of liked the cheeky presentation. Richard admitted after lunch that he wished that he’d ordered my dish, since he liked it more.
I can’t talk about CHARCUT without mentioning that the co-owner and co-executive chef is Connie DeSousa from the first season of Top Chef Canada. She was my favourite and I rooted for her the whole way through. I loved that she was a strong, creative woman who could hold her own in the boy’s club of the service industry. We didn’t go to CHARCUT exclusively because of Connie, but it was definitely an added draw.
In addition to their restaurant, CHARCUT also has a food truck: Alley Burger. We didn’t get a chance to try it while we were in Calgary this time around, but I’ve heard rave reviews. You can catch Alley Burger on Twitter @AlleyBurger.
Photos and Words by Robin