weekend delights: bday dinner@ charcut, calgary

To conclude the weekend delights series, Mark surprised me on my actual birthday (Sunday) by taking me for dinner at Charcut. To be honest, I didn’t know that Charcut existed until the first season of Top Chef Canada, where Chef/Owner Connie DeSousa competed and made it to the finale (sadly she got third place, but still an epic win in my opinion). Apparently I need to get more often and check out the Calgary restaurant scene, rather than find out about it through random shows.

Naturally, with Connie in the national spotlight, I’m sure most of Calgary has been clamoring to get to Charcut, so I thought it was fairly lucky that we got a reservation (however it may be the fact that it was on Sunday evening vs. a Friday or a Saturday). For those familiar with Calgary, you know how difficult it is to find parking downtown, so we ended up circling that area for nearly 20 minutes before we found a spot (in which Mark did an epic three-lane change as soon as the light turned green) about 3 blocks from the restaurant.

Charcut is located adjacent to a very opulent boutique hotel, Le Germain. As we entered, we were greeted by a friendly hostess and were promptly shown to our table. The decor is nicely appointed – clean and modern, but there was warmth at the same time. The lounge area was already bustling with people (it was 6pm) and the dining room fairly busy.

A few minutes after we were seated, we were presented with a complementary “two-bite” plate of one of their house-made sausages. I would’ve taken a picture, but Mark ate his pretty quickly. I can’t remember what the sausage was called, but it was delicious.

Unfortunately, I didn’t realise that the menu changes daily, so when I went on their website to get the exact name of the dishes we ordered, I found that it had changed already. SAD. So I’ll try my best to describe the items.

First up, we ordered something to share. I think it was some type of Italian pork jerky. I called it high-end jerky. It was much softer in texture than jerky and definitely not as tough, and boy was it delicious. It was unmistakeably salty, but not offensively so – it was full of flavour and I wish there were more of it than just that small bundle.

This is one of two sides – crispy romaine lettuce with a mint yogurt dressing, topped with pickled shallots. The kitchen was nice enough to put the shaved cheese on the side, on account of my lactose issues and my general disregard for cheese (I know, blasphemy). [Side note: Come to think of it, when I mentioned my lactose intolerance, the server was very good to let the kitchen know and come up with alternatives for items that had any dairy products. Most of the time I can handle dairy, but my tummy wasn’t feeling all that great that day and I thought it would be best to stay away from dairy. But I digress.] I normally don’t like dressing on salads, but this mint yogurt combination was divine. Incredibly refreshing and surprisingly light, it balanced well with the crispness of the romaine lettuce.

So, how many times in my life will I ever have Duck Fat Fried Poutine with Truffle Gravy? Probably not that often! We just HAD to have this. I felt bad for Mark because he loves the cheese curds, but they came on the side. Definitely not the same without them melting in the gravy, but I appreciated the compromise. I think I’ve had something accented with truffles only a couple of other times in my life and I still don’t know what the actual flavour of truffles is. Whatever it is, it made the gravy incredibly delicious. This was definitely worth all the calories.

Mark chose the Butcher’s Steak (I believe it was sirloin) for his main. I vaguely recall that it was served with arugula and chimichurri, and topped with matchstick potatoes. I tried some of his steak and he said it was slightly chewy (he was right), but the chimichurri added a nice herb-y freshness to it. The recommended temperature for that particular cut of meat was medium-rare and Mark got it medium, so I thought maybe that factored into the chewiness.

For me, pork belly. It originally came with cheddar grits, but I got smashed potatoes as a substitute.  It was topped with the BEST BACON OF MY LIIIIIFE (imagine Steve Carrell in “Get Smart“, that scene when he gets promoted to Agent and the cone of silence malfunctions – hilarious).  Seriously, this bacon was the most crispiest bacon EVER, which is just the way I like it.  It was so thin and crispy, it shattered as soon as my fork touched it.  OMG.  I dream of that bacon.  The pork belly itself was OMG DELICIOUS, so tender and simply seasoned, it really allowed the pork flavour to come through.  The potatoes underneath were a nice accompaniment, but I wished that I had gotten vegetables instead as I already had potato overload with the poutine.  Ah well, live and learn.

We thought about having dessert, but by that point, we were stuffed to the brim… to the point I was SO close to unbuttoning my jeans. So we passed on the dessert.

Overall, I had an incredible time. The food was amazing, the portions were generous, and our server was awesome.  I’m totally going on a night they have the pork belly. OMG.  I must have it again.

To conclude the evening, we went home and had a small birthday celebration with a mini chocolate mousse cake from Rustic Sourdough Bakery:

All in all, a terrific weekend of delights.

CHARCUT Roast House
100, 899 Centre St SW
Calgary, AB
Phone: (403) 984-2180
http://www.charcut.com

Rustic Sourdough
1305 17 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB T2T 0C4
Phone: (403) 245-2113
http://www.rusticsourdoughbakery.com/

CHARCUT Roast House on Urbanspoon

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