The vibe at Calgary's Charcut is cool and edgy, but the food is rustic and comforting, fresh from local farms and cooked from scratch.
It's hard to choose favourites, though, as chefs Connie De Sousa and John Jackson’s menu can change daily. That said, anything cooked on the rotisserie, over a smoky wood fire, is divine. Charcut’s sides are just as exciting as the main event. In my opinion, you really haven’t lived until you’ve tried Brussels sprouts fried in duck fat. Fingers crossed it becomes a menu mainstay, although as with most dishes here it’s likely seasonal.
Local, Seasonal Fare
Calgary has earned its international reputation for fine dining. Creative chef-driven concepts grounded in local traditions and fresh Alberta ingredients are the order of the day. Popular eateries – like Charcut – have developed relationships with the local producers who deliver new meaning to the phrase, from farm to fork.
They may not always advertise the fact, but Calgary's best chefs make sure the pork is pastured, the boar is wild and the Saskatoon berries, morel mushrooms, yellow beets and heirloom potatoes are all locally grown. Much of what hits the plate is artisan-made, whether its Calgary's craft beers, house-smoked bacon or fresh buffalo mozzarella made with milk from Alberta herds.
Top Quality at Every Price Point
While Charcut's meaty nose-to-tail menu satisfies the carnivore in me, there's more to taste along historic Stephen Avenue. It's a popular restaurant strip, where we wander from an oyster bar to a piano bar, with stops at a pub and a wine bar in between. The same innovative and sustainable vibe permeates the menus at top tables clustered along 17 Avenue and 4 Street.
Yesterday, I couldn't resist the fat morel-topped burger at Model Milk, where Chef Justin Leboe grinds his own special cuts of local Spring Creek beef for the juicy patties and serves Poplar Bluff organic potatoes and Hotchkiss heirloom tomatoes. Top chefs like Leboe are ditching the white tablecloths for lively, crowded, casual eateries and opening second label spots – suburban diners, trattorias, bistros and funky food trucks. Leboe’s Clive Burger on 17 Ave is a great example, as you’ll find hand-ground high quality Spring Creek beef burgers at a grab and go price.
It's a sign that dining here has come of age. The best local produce is on the plate, whether we splurge on a romantic dinner at Rouge, share a plate at Borgo or grab a porchetta sandwich at Boxwood in the park. The food here is serious, bold, unconventional and completely Calgary.