I've lived in some of the most incredible cities in the world (i.e., Calgary, Toronto, New York, Chicago, Denver and all throughout Europe) and visited more countries that I can count ... and eating good food has always been top on my list of things to do wherever I go. In my travels I've had some of the most amazing culinary experiences, both in award-winning fine dining establishments and local eateries with amazing character and flair. charbar has very quickly moved to the top of my list!
Don't get me wrong ... I am by no means a certified food critic or trained culinary chef. If anything, I have limitations in my menu choices and can't have everything so deliciously prepared for everyone else. But I would call myself a culinary adventurer and seek out amazing experiences wherever I go. Some of my top experiences are strictly based on the quality and taste of the food and the others are strictly due to the fact the staff and ambiance were memorable and the people made me feel special. charbar is on my list because they have always provided BOTH in spades!
The charbar Experience
Every time I've been to charbar I've been seated in different areas of the restaurant, which has given me a real "feel" for what it's all about ... and unique the experience can be each and every time. On my most recent visit I had an opportunity to sit right by the kitchen, which is my most favourite place to sit at any restaurant!
Don't get me wrong, there is something special about every part of the restaurant as the design of the restaurant plays off the historic appeal of the Simmons Building. You will find a feast for the sights as well as the palate with beautiful framed art, paintings on the brick wall, a view of the majestic Bow River and design features that will catch you by surprise!
Being that I was at the bar the first time and the rooftop the second visit, this was the first time I got a chance to see Executive Chef Jessica Pelland hard at work leading her team in the kitchen. This young Executive Chef lives up to her accolades as Alberta's first Chopped Canada Champion she with her focused yet cool, calm, and collected leadership style. She is highly respected by her staff and Chef Pelland runs a super tight ship!
The cooking area is meticulous, featuring a custom-made Argentine wood-fired grill (the central component to the urban rustic, Argentine-inspired menu), fresh, sustainable and organic ingredients are in plain view for everyone to see (from vine-ripened tomatoes and dry-aged Alberta beef to the ceviche raw bar with oysters, clams and fresh crab legs) and everyone is ALL BUSINESS.
How the kitchen operates is one thing, but the food ... OH MY GOODNESS! Everything that's been on my plate has been delicious! There's a mastery to how Chef Pelland can devise a menu that so carefully balances taste, texture, colour and aromas into a symphony of the senses! As I watched the chefs working diligently from my seat by the kitchen I was amazed at how few ingredients were being used to season and treat the food. This is the sign of a true master chef ... the ability to create incredible flavours with proper treatment and preparation of the ingredients. AMAZING!
Over the last two weeks all of my meals have been incredible! My favourites so far include the tableside ceviche with Tiger's Milk, the wood roasted beets and the Fugazza (deeper dish style pizza) featuring specially crafted sourdough from Sidewalk Citizen Artisan Bakery. It's refreshing to see (and experience) the beautiful partnership between charbar, Sidewalk Citizen Artisan Bakery and Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters. The charbar menu features items from each of the vendors in the Simmons Building making the experience even more special (because you don't have to leave your seat)!
charbar = People
Although the focus of the kitchen is precision, perfection and the quality delivery of impeccable food ... charbar's service is ALL ABOUT THE PEOPLE (and attention to detail). From the first day I walked in the front door and essentially "crashed" the soft opening party, the staff have been genuinely warm, friendly, personable, and made me feel like family. Each one has surprised me by going above and beyond the call of duty to make me smile and feel like I made their day better ... not the other way around.
In speaking with Candace Bergman, Marketing Manager for CHARCUT and charbar, the true cornerstone of what both restaurants are about is ... FAMILY. To be perfectly honest, I knew that before she even uttered the words. That's how I've felt from day one because every single person, from the hostesses, waiters and waitresses and bartenders to Executive Chef Pelland, herself, has made me feel special and important to their experience at charbar, too!
But ... don't take it from me ... the six foot tall Canasian who can't eat everything I want on the menu. I recommend you make the trip to the East Village to find out for yourself! To book a reservation online using OpenTable go to www.charbar.ca. You can also check out the pictures I've taken from charbar on Facebook, Twitter,Instagram and Pinterest.
You never know but it might not hurt to tell them that "the Six Foot Tall Canasian" sent you!
(This post was originally published on www.sixfootcanasian.com on July 1, 2015)