It’s been a while since I’ve been back here and it’s nice to see that the renovated portion of the St. Germain hotel turned out well. While we are on the topic, let me just compliment the stylish décor and whatever new hotel air freshener smell they are on now. I’m not making the hotel air freshener smell up—this is a legit thing (a Las Vegas concierge told me so*).
My eating companion and I overindulged at CHARCUT Roast House (in preparation for the upcoming Shark Week marathon, of course). For those of you who don’t know, CHARCUT has a custom built rotisserie/charbroiler—and a charcuterie eating bar. If I had to sum this place up, I’d describe it as being distinctly farm-to-table, inspired by French and Italian fare. There is a heavy focus on local artisan everything (from the meats/produce/breads to the craft wines and beers). CHARCUT’s (why the all-CAPs? Whatever, their PR people has the panache of Kanye West) co-chef and co-owner is none other than Connie DeSousa of Top Chef Canada Season One; as you can imagine, all that hype had turned me off to this place—but when one has a craving for locally cured meats–just cured meats (none of that fancy bread/cheese/tapenade stuff to pair), CHARCUT is the name of the game in this town.
Starters: We ordered both BBQ and chilled oysters (pictured), arugula and tuna conserva, duck fat fried poutine, cauliflower salad (with goat chese, sunflower seeds and dates) and the house baked soft pretzels with beer cheese (also pictured); to get the party started, we had a round of the Ginger Gimlet (emphasized by our waiter as a must).
- The Ginger Gimlet was delightful; it was refreshingly citrusy, yet spicy all at once—you could also feel the Tanqueray gin go all the way down into your belly
- The oysters on a half shell were served with a smoked tomato mignonette, a wedge of lemon and side of freshly grated horse radish. Though both coasts produced succulent morsels of goodness, we unanimously agreed that the west coast oysters were better than the east coast oysters by a mile (we found ourselves wishing that we only ordered the west coast oysters as they balanced the perfect amount of salinity and sweet/mineral flavor—the east coast oysters were crisp but flavorless). The smoked tomato mignonette that accompanied the oysters added the perfect amount of acidity and smokiness to complement the oysters—this was a pleasant way to start the meal
- The poutine was portioned in a way that was difficult to share between two people—despite the fact truffle gravy can make anything delicious, the presentation of the poutine was something that one could find at any old greasy spoon; not something you’d expect or want from a high end restaurant. Our tuna conserva arrived at around the same time; I did not like it and would equate it to eating oily tuna fish sandwiches out of a mason jar. My companion disagreed with me on this matter; he felt that the oil was flavorful and brought out the meatiness of the fish. Potato/po-tah-toe, I guess?
- Pretzels were soft baked, and felt similar to what you’d get at The Olive Garden, sans slick garlic butter spread. We felt that the beer cheese had a nice flavor and appreciated the velvety texture of this cheddar concoction paired with the juicy pickled jalapenos
- Our side of cauliflower salad was small compared to other places (lke Double Zero Pizza for example). I get that it was a side dish, but it seemed like it was portioned for a small child… The spoonfuls or so that I got to sample (because it was less than two bites between the both of us) was nice: the dates brought out the sweetness of the roasted cauliflower and the sunflower seeds provided an additional crunchy texture in contrast to the soft cheese
From the Rotisserie: Slow roasted spring creek prime rib, Spragg Farm’s roasted pork belly, Spring Creek butcher steak, sausage, mortadella, salami, and Spanish ham (pictured first)
- Essentially what we got was different kinds of meat and homemade mustard on a wooden board. The mustard had an enjoyable graininess and added an earthy pungency to cut the richness of the meats. The portions were huge. The meat was flavorful. I enjoy eating like a caveman but I do not enjoy the subsequent meat sweats. Meat sweats made us loose the will to document our adventures further. Blame the meat sweats.
General Impressions: It must be noted that the dinner service and value-to-portion ratio is not as good compared to that of the lunch service (yay cookies!). I recommend coming here for lunch; it may be a little more crowded, but at least you won’t be disappointed (i.e.: small portions, high prices). CHARCUT does not place in my recommended list of high-end YYC restaurants—its wares are quite tasty and the service is consistently friendly, but I feel that CHARCUT just toes the line between fine and good—I couldn’t say that anything has ever wowed me. I want to like this place. I have a soft spot in my grinch heart for any eatery that uses hanging meat carasses as decor…Hopefully the opening of “charbar” (in 2015?) will be able to kick things up a notch? It looks like the charbar is supposed to have the same emphasis on fresh/local dishes, without the pretentiousness of CHARCUT and the hype-without-substance of Alley Burger (the food truck, not the vintage back alley service).
Verdict: Butters inside of a shark
*Fun fact: most major hotel lobbies on the Las Vegas Strip are perfumed differently (I always make sure to ask what it is I’m smelling upon check in—once you know, you cannot un-know) so far I can confirm that Aria Resort & Casio smells like “ylang-ylang and vanilla,” The Cosmopolitan: “white jasmine and lavender,” and the (area in-between) Venetian/Palazzo: (smokey ash tray/puke) roses.