Sunday, March 3, 2013

CHARCUT Roast House- Calgary, AB

The last time I dined at CHARCUT Roast House, I had a delicious chicken dish. Like, 10/5 Erics delicious. So when I found myself in Calgary for the Big Taste, I was really excited to try CHARCUT again. The Big Taste runs from March 1-10, 2013 and includes 70 restaurants offering lunch, dinner, and/or gourmet set menus. It's a great time to try new restaurants, since a multicourse meal runs between $15-$35 (with the exception of the gourmet menus, which are $85).

I made a reservation for 9:00 on Saturday, which was the only time I could find. CHARCUT is located within Hotel le Germain, across from the Calgary Tower. Its interior has an intimate feel, with dim lighting and candles on every table. We were quickly seated, but then... nothing. It took a full 15 minutes before we were acknowledged with menus and water, which was disappointing.

TN Dang: I followed in the footsteps of my good friend Shannon's food journey and ended up at Charcut the following Sunday (a little over a week from Shannon). Check out The Big Taste - CHARCUT V2.0 pictures below!

CHARCUT's menu changes daily, as does their Big Taste set menu. We had already decided that we'd be getting the Big Taste menu, so we ordered quickly. Again, it was a lengthy wait before we were served - we didn't receive our first course until 9:45. The Big Taste menu is served "family style" with a minimum of two diners ($35/person) which means that everything is served on one communal platter. The appetizer consisted of romaine salad and pork skillet sausage with pickled preserved jalapeno. I'm not usually a fan of sausage, but this was perfectly seasoned and well complemented by the jalapeno. The salad had good flavor and interesting components (cucumber, garden mint, yogurt dressing, and ricotta salata). My only complaint was that there was too much cheese - and this from a girl who LOVES cheese.

TN Dang: for my night at CHARCUT, we were served similar appetizers. My cousins and I were served slices of salami with shredded Parmesan and a side of Romaine salad. The salami and Parmesan were an excellent combination and had just the right amount of saltiness. It seemed that CHARCUT had calmed down on cheese since Shannon's dining experience and I found the Romaine salad, with just a little hint of heat from the pickled Jalepeno peppers, went delightfully with the salami.

Pork tenderloin, polenta, and root vegetables for two
The main tonight was pork tenderloin with arugula and bacon, served with sides of polenta and roasted root vegetables. I thought the pork was an interesting choice by the kitchen, as it's not even listed on the regular menu. Unfortunately, it was quite tough and a tad dry, served without a sauce. The overlying bacon and rub imparted some good flavors, but this was not a dish that I enjoyed. It was also small -  three slices of pork for two people. It was fine for my companion and me, since I wasn't feeling so hungry, but I do wonder how those with larger appetites would fare. The polenta was alright, though nothing special. The root vegetables were probably my favorite part of the main.

TN Dang: similar to Shannon's dining experience, our mains for the night consisted of Cajun-rubbed pork tenderloin topped with arugula, smashed all-dressed potatoes, and grilled parsnips. This time, the pork tenderloin was cooked perfectly - juicy in the centre but not at all raw (...i.e. I did not get food poisoning that night). Though juicy, I agree with Shannon in saying that the tenderloin packed a lot more punch on the outside (the rub was fantastic!) but very little on the inside. In fact, it was agreed around the table that the tenderloin was quite bland. The smashed potatoes were well cooked, but were nothing special. The grilled Parsnips, on the other hand, were perfectly seasoned and was a mouthful of flavour. It seems when it comes to The Big Taste Menu, CHARCUT excels at cooking its root vegetables, but falls short on making the protein memorable. In addition, the portions, as previously mentioned, were a little (haha - pun intended!) ridiculous  for four people.

Dessert was cheesecake in a jar (vanilla bean cheesecake mousse layered with toasted Graham crumbs, and topped with berry preserves). I was feeling quite full by this point, but it was so good I ended up devouring the whole thing. It was light and not too sweet, providing a great end to the meal.

TN Dang: the cheesecake served on my night was a blueberry cheesecake and was likely similar to Shannon's. Again, like Shannon's dining experience, the cheesecake was the star of the meal and was a great note to end the night.

Overall, I think the Big Taste menu was a little disappointing. It wasn't bad by any means, but I've definitely had better meals at CHARCUT. I really enjoyed the appetizer and dessert, but the main was small and unimpressive. For a roast house, I'd expect the main course to shine but that wasn't the case tonight. The Big Taste menu changes daily, so your experience might be different from mine. I'll be back to CHARCUT, but not for any sort of set menu.

TN Dang: based on the rave reviews I've heard from native Calgarians, I will definitely be back to Charcut's. However, I wouldn't go for anything pork as my main as CHARCUT pork has had two strikes against it already.

Salami and Parmesan & Romaine Salad

Right to Left: Smashed All-Dressed Potatoes,
Cajun-rubbed Pork Tenderloin  topped with Arugula,
and Grilled Parsnips
Blueberry-Vanilla Cheesecake
TN Dang Top Pick of the Night: Blueberry-Vanilla Cheesecake and Grilled Parsnips

3.5/5 Erics

CHARCUT Roast House on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Got horrible food poisoning from Charcut recently. Told the waitress my meal tasted funny and she giggled, walked away, and did nothing about it. Only had a few bites but spent a day and a half in the hospital. Manager and chef insist it was a new allergy I must have developed although I am not allergic to anything and hospital is sure it was food poisoning. Will never be back.