CHARCUT Roast House
By Bob Keelaghan

Creative Rustic Cuisine in Downtown Calgary

This is CHARCUT’s recipe: start with two acclaimed chefs, give them creative control over the menu and let them carefully choose the best quality ingredients (especially meats) from local and regional farmers. Calgarians are eating it up, much to the delight of co-owners and head chefs Connie DeSousa and John Jackson. The pair opened the urban-rustic restaurant a stone’s throw from the Calgary Tower in 2010. Their talents previously led them from Calgary to cooking gigs all over the globe. John invited Connie to work with him at the prestigious St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco. It was there they soaked up the influences that would inspire CHARCUT.

“In San Francisco, everyone knows where their food comes from and the first names of their butchers and farmers,” remarks Connie of the food-conscious environment they worked in. “We wanted to bring that concept back to Calgary and open our own venture as we noticed a new, youthful vibrancy about the city.”  Upon returning they exhaustively researched regional growers and ranchers to supply CHARCUT. “We literally spent 40 days on 40 farms when we moved back to Calgary.”

In San Francisco everyone knows where their food comes from and the first names of their butchers and farmers. We wanted to bring that concept back to Calgary. - Connie DeSousa, co-owner
Rustic cuisine, roasted meats, Italian sausage, charcuterie, lunch, dinner, wine, craft beer
A typically busy lunch at CHARCUT. Reservations are recommended.

A Menu Driven by Inspired, Informed Chefs

Two phrases are prominent when Connie describes CHARCUT’s menu: urban-rustic and chef-driven. The former refers to its “back-to-basics” food philosophy. Along with sourcing its own food, CHARCUT does its own butchery, pickling, canning and preserving. Restaurant staff are involved from the harvest of ingredients right through to the point the meal is served beneath the massive chandeliers in the expansive, contemporary dining room.

Chef-driven means Connie and John both own and run the restaurant and are not answerable to a manager. The power to create new dishes as the inspiration hits is theirs alone. At one time, the desire to keep pushing their innovative culinary skills was so constant it meant changing the menu almost daily, until they realized that customers want to revisit the dish that tantalized their tastebuds on their last visit.  Therefore, they don’t mess with success. “We do have staples that will never come off the menu like our beet salad with our house-made goat cheese; our spit-roasted, smoked rotisserie prime rib and chicken; the pig head mortadella; and our poutine,” says Connie. She adds that the poutine makes a great side for meat dishes with its hand-cut potatoes fried in duck fat, covered in truffle-chicken gravy and topped with authentic Quebecois cheese curds.

Otherwise, the recipes change seasonally and augment the meats roasted and smoked on the restaurant's custom-built rotisserie, visible behind the charcuterie bar at the rear of the dining room. In the spring and summer months, asparagus, fiddleheads and mushroom can often appear among the ingredients.

Rustic cuisine, roasted meats, Italian sausage, charcuterie, lunch, dinner, wine, craft beer
CHAR is a reference to the restaurant's custom-built rotisserie charbroiler, while CUT refers to the old-style meat slicer used to prepare its charcuterie.

The Critics Have Spoken, So Book Ahead

Connie’s and John’s cooking has landed CHARCUT on best Canadian restaurant lists in magazines such as Maclean’s and enRoute. As the restaurant is constantly busy during lunch and dinner, it is a good idea to make reservations. For those wanting to book special occasions and functions, CHARCUT offers semi-private dining for small parties in its elevated podium section that overlooks the dining room. The entire restaurant can also be booked for groups of up to 100 people.

Rustic cuisine, roasted meats, Italian sausage, charcuterie, lunch, dinner, wine, craft beer
CHARCUT is located a stone’s throw from the Calgary Tower on Center Street southwest.
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