I’ve been watching Connie DeSousa on Top Chef Canada the past few weeks and her technique and style really intrigued me. After watching the first few episodes, I really wanted to try CHARCUT. I had heard that they feature a “Lunch All At Once” set menus at $15 and $25 price points. The $15 lunch consists of CHARCUT Daily Soup with Brioche Crostini, Daily Sandwich with Kitchen Pickles, and a Bag of Warm Cookies. The $25 lunch consists of Arugula and Hotchkiss Tomato Salad with a Tabasco buttermilk dressing, Daily Rotisserie (spit-roasted and smoked) with Homemade Parmesan fries, and a Bag of Warm Cookies and a Coffee to go.
My friend and I went to CHARCUT for lunch earlier this week. The Daily Soup was clam chowder with smoked bacon, the Daily Sandwich was BBQ beef and the Daily Rotisserie was roast chuck. I decided to have the $15 set lunch mainly because I wanted to try the clam chowder. My friend ordered off the regular menu and had the Rotisserie Chicken Salad Sandwich ($15) with pancetta, arugula and DeSousa family piri piri aioli.
My friend’s Rotisserie Chicken Salad Sandwich came with a choice of fries or green salad. The green salad consisted of arugula topped with tomatoes and fried onions. I had a taste of the sandwich and was really impressed at the combination of flavours. The chicken was very tender, moist, and in nice bite-sized pieces. The foccacia bread was soft, fresh and the perfect texture for the sandwich. As far as Chicken Salad Sandwiches go, this was easily the best tasting Chicken Salad Sandwich I’ve had thus far.
For condiments, we were served house- made ketchup to put on our sandwiches or fries if we so desired. The ketchup was tasty. There was a hint of sweetness and I could actually taste the flavour of the tomatoes. I thought it was nice that they even made their condiments from scratch. It is little details like this that sets CHARCUT apart from the typical chain restaurants.
For my set lunch, the clam chowder with smoked bacon was for sure the star of the show. The cream-based chowder had a nice consistency without being too thick. The clams were big and tender while the smoky bacon provided nice flavouring to the soup. The parmesan fries were fresh and tasty. While the BBQ Beef sandwich didn’t have a wow factor, the beef was tender and flavourful and the bread was fresh and soft. The pickled carrot was crunchy and had a nice balance of acidity. All the food tasted very fresh and had good flavours.
Inside the brown bag were two warm chocolate chip cookies. The cookies were crispy and the chocolate melted in our mouths. Personally, I wish the cookies would be softer on the inside. But that’s just a personal preference rather than anything wrong with how the cookies were. What I thought was a nice touch also was the piggy-shaped paper clip used to hold the brown bag shut. To me, the piggy-shaped paper clip shows the care and attention to detail they put into presenting their food.
Instead of having normal soda pop, we decided to try their House Soda ($3.25). There was a choice of Fresh-Squeezed Orange Juice and Soda or Preserved Berry and Soda. For the Preserved Berry, there was a choice of various berries. I chose the Saskatoon Berry Preserved Soda and my friend had the OJ version. I liked that the beverage wasn’t overly sweet. Basically, the Preserved Berry Soda consisted of Saskatoon Berry preserves mixed with soda water. It didn’t have a wow factor but it’s a nice change from the typical lime juice and soda or cranberry juice and soda.
Overall, I was really impressed with CHARCUT. It’s been a long time since I’ve had such a memorable dining experience in Calgary, relative to the price. Our server was friendly, prompt and attentive. The decor was contemporary and tasteful. I think they really understand their clientele. With the “Lunch All At Once” concept, they promise to have you “In and out in 45 minutes”. They understand a good portion of their clientele are corporate people with busy schedules and many may not have a lot of time to dine at lunch. They are serving up gourmet fare at reasonable prices so that they can be a destination for an everyday lunch for the average folk instead of just catering to clientele with corporate expense accounts. For me, it’s a no-brainer – if I were to spend $15 for lunch, I would choose to go to CHARCUT any day for their set lunch rather than going to the typical chain restaurant or anywhere else for that matter. I can’t wait to go back to try the lunch sets again as the menu changes daily.
CHARCUT Roast House
#101 899 Centre Street SW