CHARCUT Roast House, Calgary

Even before Connie DeSousa appeared on Top Chef Canada, CHARCUT Roast House has created a lot of buzz. An enRoute Canada’s Best New Restaurant for 2010, their charcuterie and alley burgers (served in the back alley at various times announced on Twitter) has kept their name on the lips of people in Calgary and beyond.

I ate there with a friend back in February, coincidentally just 10 days before the names of the Top Chef Canada contestants were released. We ended up getting the same entrée, but different sides.

For an entrée we had the Spring Creek Butcher Steak, with arugula, fried matchstick potatoes, and chimichurri. It was probably one of the best steaks I’ve ever had. The meat was so tender that it practically melted in your mouth.

My friend also ordered the duck fat fried poutine served with cheese curds and truffle gravy. It was delicious and so very rich. So rich in fact that we couldn’t finish it even though I ended up trying to help her eat the dish. We were stuffed silly. I could easily see this dish being a good appetizer for 3 to 4 people. It’s definitely something that you need to share. I was sad that they cut out Connie’s Top Chef Canada’s poutine Quickfire challenge because I wanted to know if she had made this version for the competition or not.

Butcher steak and poutine

Butcher steak and poutine

The other side that we ordered was the slow roasted heirloom beets served with house-made soft goat cheese and arugula. The beets were tender and slightly sweet, but to me the star of this dish was the goat cheese. It was creamy and fluffy, and had a light tang instead of a strong tang that you find in many goat cheeses.

Butcher steak, heirloom beets and goat cheese

Butcher steak, heirloom beets and goat cheese

For dessert my friend had cheesecake in a jar. I think they were preserved saskatoon berries, but my memory is a little hazy. The cheesecake was light and fluffy.

cheesecake

cheesecake

I had the flourless chocolate cake with graham crackers and ice cream. It was dense and chocolately, with a brownie-like texture. I ended up having to bring some of it away with me because of being much too full from all the good food.

flourless chocolate cake

flourless chocolate cake

Our receipt was delivered with a postcard and the cutest little pig paper clip.

The bill and the pig

The bill and the pig

Alley burgers were actually being served later that night but I was too stuffed to even think about eating them. I had a great meal and would definitely come back again.

P.S. Did you know that I’m doing interviews with the Top Chef contestants? You can read all the other past interviews by using this Top Chef Canada list.

CHARCUT Roast House
101, 899 Centre Street SW
Calgary, AB
www.charcut.com

CHARCUT Roast House on Urbanspoon

Fay’s Diner, Highway 2

When you think of road food, you think of diners and truck stops; places that serve greasy burgers and filling, but fattening food.

On Alberta’s Highway 2, driving north between Camrose and Edmonton, is a little place called Fay’s Diner. Inside is a bar-style counter with stools, a mismatched kitchen, and a large cooler selling Foothills Creamery ice cream.

I had actually stopped there for a potty break at the official facilities next door, and decided to pop in for a quick snack.

A quick look at the menu convinced me to go for some fries and gravy. My fries were decent, but I would have preferred them to be crispier. The gravy threw me back to the kind that I ate back in high school, so I was happy there. So much so that I ate them the way everyone in my high school did; loaded with gravy, ketchup, pepper and salt. (I usually don’t bother with the salt as I find most fries have more than enough salt for me.) It looks like a huge mess, but it’s delish.

Another patron ordered a cheese burger and it looked pretty decent; plenty of lettuce, tomatoes, etc.

The real appeal of the place wasn’t the food though. It was the atmosphere. Slightly grumpy servers/cooks, well-used counter tops, TV blaring in the corner, and photos/autographs of singers, politicians and local TV newscasters on one wall completed the authentic aged diner chic. No Johnny Rockets mini-jukeboxes or brand new formica tables to be found here. The only thing that would have completed the experience would have been super fantastic road food that I could rave about. Ah well, I guess you can’t have everything.

Fays Diner, exterior

Fay's Diner, side exterior

Fays Diner, front exterior

Fay's Diner, front exterior

Pre-gravy fries

Pre-gravy fries