The colours in Chartier's onion risotto and kohlrabi "steak" were a treat for the eyes. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN

#102, 5012 50 St.

No listed delivery service

Tues to Sun. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
(Fri. and Sat. midnight closing)
(Bread window, Tues. to Sun. 9 a.m. until sold-out)

Closed Mondays

Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns
Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns
Service: 4 of 5 Suns

Dinner for two: Excluding drinks and tip, basic $50, loaded $80

Three years ago, the Weekly Dish visited Chartier, the then-recently-opened Franco-Albertan restaurant in the town of Beaumont – today just a few minutes drive south of Mill Woods.

That meal was perfect – one of the few five out of five Suns ever rewarded in this restaurant review column.

But perfection is either maintained, or it slips. And even the best of chefs, if they are not owners, tend to eventually move on.

On our return visit to Chartier, the food was good. But nowhere near its former five of five Suns perfection.

Original Chartier chef Steve Brochu was a good friend of hands-on owners Darren and Sylvia Cheverie. It was his talent that kept this kitchen at such high standards  … not to mention Chartier’s reputation as a terrific bakery as well – selling bread daily from its “bread window.”

But Brochu has moved on, opening the MilkCrate café in the downtown EPCOR Tower.

The Cheveries gave Steve a fine send-off, then launched a highly publicized campaign to find his replacement. With much fanfare, a new chef, Tony Krause (ex-Revel) was announced. And then … nothing.

For whatever reasons, Krause did not work out. He is no longer at Chartier.

Instead, Brochu’s former sous-chef Tamara Solon has been promoted to head chef.

Solon is good. Our dinner was good.  But she’s no Brochu. Not yet, at any rate.

A good dinner, but it had its problems.

The winners:

The classic Quebecois poutine – an excellent starter for four to share – was as good as you could ask for, the French fries fresh-cut, cooked as to be softer and bigger than most, yet still crisp and chewy with a satisfying rich gravy and fresh chunks of cheese curd. No drowning in gravy, no curd smothering. Just right.

A lovely, balanced poutine served as a shared appetizer.

The beef special of the day was an interesting and creative interpretation of boeuf bourguignon, being not a classic red-wine stew but three decent-sized pieces of beef beautifully slow-cooked and tenderized in the bourguignon style.

A new twist on Boeuf Bourguignon

A near-winner: Chef Solon showed true originality, marinating and grilling a thick slice of the root vegetable kohlrabi, laying the veggie “steak” on top of an onion risotto. Lightly cooked yellow cherry tomatoes made for a lovely presentation. A whole red tomato must have been purely for decoration, as it was too tough (sun-dried?) to eat. The kohlrabi was a hugely interesting veggie treatment, tasty unto itself and topped with crispy sunchoke chips. The underlying risotto was disappointing, nondescript but for being overbearingly oniony.

Jarring notes in the jambalya “off the dock” seafood special.

A swing and a miss:   The seafood feature was a mild jambalaya, featuring west-coast ling cod and good-looking grilled prawns.  Big problem; the fillet was not chopped and cooked into the jambalaya but laid on top, with the prawns on top of the fish. The fillet was comparatively tasteless, the jambalaya weakened without a fish infusion. The prawns looked great but tasted stale and mealy.

A pure miss: The escargots sounded sublime – chardonnay poached, melted cheeses, black garlic – but were so herb-paste smothered as to drown out all other tastes and textures.  The accompanying sourdough bread may have been grilled but was cold on arrival. This from Chartier, home of fine breads?

The desserts were good but not sublime – nothing like Brochu’s preserved sweet pear with its meringue sail that lives on in my taste memory three years since that first review.

The ambience at Chartier remains pleasantly rustic yet somehow urban. Our server, while new, was charming. What she didn’t know she made every effort to find out.

Chartier is at a crossroad. Do the Cheveries exercise patience with chef Solon in the hopes of a more consistent performance to accompany her obvious creativity, or do they deem her not ready, and re-open the search for an all-around top-notch chef as comfortable and talented as Brochu?