All relevant, meat-related words.
You so clever, random restaurateur.
I was in Calgary a few weeks ago for work and finally got to catch up with an old friend from my fraternity days.
Since she works as an audit-grunt for a large accounting firm and needed to be back at work before her overseer notices that she slipped out of her shackles, we went to the restaurant right across the street.
As the CHARCUT is in the heart of downtown Calgary, the clientèle were stereotypical, suited, middle aged, Caucasian men with the occasional schmuck going for the more casual plaid shirt and lumberjack beard combo. The restaurant is themed and decorated with its patrons in mind.
Glossy black surfaces, faux-vintage coca cola machines, long, phallic beer taps and exposed bricks and ventilation all served to remind the average customer of dank man-caves and corporate boardrooms.
We ordered the CHARCUT board to start, with the duck poutine and bison brisket.
The CHARCUT board was generously piled with homemade mortadella, capicollo, cured jerky sticks and asiago. To be fair, I’m not often impressed by a board of cold cuts and mustard, but the novelty of house-made meats really set the charcuterie board apart from others. The mortadella was soft and buttery while the capicollo was adequately spicy. I thought the jerky sticks were a bit too salty, but that’s a low blow when describing salted/dried meat..
Oh, and the mustard remained completely unused, and pickles would have been a better choice as they would add a bit more texture to an otherwise homogenous dish.
On paper, it the poutine seemed like a winning combination.
Duck fat fries, gravy layered in between, with generous lumps of cheese curds scattered throughout.
In reality, the sodden pile of potatoes and salty grease were barely palatable. The fries were as limp as a whiskey chugging fratboy, and the only adjective I can think of for the gravy is …gloopy?
On the bright side, the little cast iron pan they served the poutine was positively adorable.
To finish it all off, we had the bison brisket with beech mushrooms and boar bacon.
The boar bacon was extra crispy and very good. Mushrooms were excellent. Potatoes had the consistency of watery tapioca pudding, and eating the brisket was like sticking my mouth on the ass end of a woodchipper.
As you could see above, the plating, creativity and focus of the restaurant were all excellent, but for a restaurant focused on meat, I expected, well… better meat…
Question is, should you go?
To make this easier, I’ve graciously provided a checklist to help you decide.
- Idolize 60’s advertising executives
- Use the phrase ‘touch base’ more than once a day
- Drive a BMW
- Have no sense of taste
- Torture small animals in your spare time
If you answered yes to 3 or more of the above, you’d probably enjoy your visit.