By Twyla Campbell
Apr 29, 2016
Published on CBC News
'Chartier is off to a good start, but you have to last longer than the honeymoon phase,' Twyla Campbell said
Chartier is bringing some added French flair to Beaumont's restaurant scene, and the cuisine was — for the most part — perfectly mouthwatering for Edmonton AM food critic Twyla Campbell.
Owners Darren and Sylvia Cheverie launched a kickstarter campaign in March 2015 to raise the $95,000 needed to open the restaurant, but they underestimated the community's appetite for the eatery.
The fundraising took off, and a short two months later, community donors had put down more $107,000 towards Chartier.
It may sound like a pricey bill for dinner, but Campbell said the campaign is paying off for both the business and its customers, and the brasserie's grand opening last month was highly anticipated.
"It was actually the most successful restaurant campaign in the country," Campbell said. "They've really formed a bond with the backers, and therefore a very strong connection with the community."
The Cheveries have brought on NAIT culinary grad Steven Brochu to man the kitchen and create the rustic French-Canadian cuisine, including fresh sourdough breads, tourtiere, and wine, showed plenty of promise.
"They really took the time to find the right chef who had the right ideas... and could cook that rich French cuisine that they were promoting," Campbell said.
The poutine was impressive. The crispy and expertly cooked hand cut fries were drenched in a flavourful gravy and small smattering of real cheese curds.
"Good poutine is all about the flavour and the texture, and here the gravy was terrific," Campbell said. "This was a solid dish of poutine."
The beef bourguignon, served with apple purée, smashed pear and bacon roasted mushrooms, was the best dish of the night.
"It had a sweet smoky, salty, big beefy flavour, " Campbell said. "There was great balance, and great harmony in this dish."
Traditional is best for brasserie
But not all the entrees were quite so impressive.
The roasted hen suffered an "identity crisis," according to Campbell.
The dish included a ratatouille with stewed vegetables, tomatoes, grilled bread, a fried egg and rings of fresh jalapeno on top. For Campbell, it had too much going on.
"The ratatouille was bland and soupy, making the bread soggy. The jalapeno was an interloper that didn't belong on that dish, or in this restaurant, and the only redeeming feature, the chicken, was too small," she said.
Unfortunately, the arctic char, served on top of a slice of grilled bread, inside a bowl of chowder alongside a single duck egg, suffered the same dilemma.
"You can do rustic and stay refined, but you don't want to alienate customers with food that doesn't make sense, and food that they're coming for and not getting," Campbell said.
Campbell said the service was excellent, the surroundings warm and inviting, but venturing too far from their French-Canadian roots will not serve Chartier well.
She said the restaurant is certainly worth the small trip to Beaumont.
"Chartier is off to a good start, but you have to last longer than the honeymoon phase," Campbell said.
"Don't go off the rails with unnecessary components. Brochu is a great chef, but he needs to relax and focus on traditional foods and techniques and he'll do just fine."