First time seeing sunlight in a few days. Not only because it’s been overcast and snowing, but because I’ve been confined to the sickbay that is my apartment. Beautiful day, +7C, not a cloud in sight. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought it was a nice day out: the result, a busy busy day on the sidewalks of Whyte Ave.
On our walk, I spotted a restaurant I had visited in Feb 2011 when I came to check out the U of A. Of course many would argue that such a cold day (-20c) should have deterred me from coming to Edmonton. Oh well. I didn’t know the name, but I knew it was next to a Chili’s. Well, Chili’s closed down, but by pure chance we found it! 104th St, about 3 doors North of Whyte ave…
Inside was a very tavern-y feel, wood and copper fixtures. Pretty quiet for dinner time, and the crowd was pretty varied. I guess Nina and I consider ourselves to be snobby, and wondered why so few people actually dress properly for dinner. I digress. Hang on though, the most comprehensive review yet!
Accent is flagged as a European Lounge, but nothing really stood out as decidedly European. Here’s the menu:
However, the menu did have some eyebrow raising and mouth watering options. Of course I ask the waitress for her recommendation, and she very enthusiastically recommends the Steak Tartare as a starter, and also offers that the Wiener Schnitzel is why people come to Accent.
As with most hands-on dishes, this came with instructions. Cut a clove of garlic in half, rub it all over the toasted crostini, making sure the parsley gets nice and muddled, and slather the neolithic meat paste all over the toast, munch, swallow, repeat. Miss Nina not looking super enthused, nor impressed that her much anticipated smoked salmon had yet to arrive. Keep sipping, dear.
Ok. By far, this dish (Steak Tartare, $14), is the best thing I have eaten since I’ve arrived in Edmonton, and I’ve eaten some fantastic food, if you’re a regular reader of Foodmonton. I was a little hesitant to eat raw beef, but I thought: “Hey, eat raw fish in San Diego, eat raw beef in Alberta.” It was a logical conclusion. I eat my steak rare, anyway. Add the fact that I’m on crazy strong antibiotics for whatever respiratory infection I have, I’m good to go as far as bacterial poisoning.
A myriad of flavors, wonderfully and traditionally seasoned! Absolutely shows it’s freshness, obviously ground right before it was served. Raw onions in the tartare bring an unmistakable spice compounding with the fresh cracked pepper, hints of Worcestershire perfectly balanced, a touch of sweetness, I think from Cognac. The raw garlic brings on it’s muscle as you crunch through the impeccably toasted bread, and savor the silky texture of the finely minced steak. The level of detail-orientation… I mean they must have refrigerated their grinder as to not heat up the meat. Drawing on our cave-dwelling mammoth-hunting ancestry, this was truly a delightful, yet surprising treat, a reward for those gastronomically adventurous. Come to Accent JUST FOR THIS DISH. Serious.
Expectations for the rest of the meal were then set impossibly high, which was fine, because it didn’t disappoint.
Nina’s Smoked Salmon was perfectly executed: I always look for traces of artificial coloring in smoked salmon, indicating that it was really heavily processed, and this was not. The best I’ve had was Connemara Smoked Salmon in Roundstone, Galway Bay, in Ireland. This came very very close! Served with roasted asparagus wrapped in proscuitto, dill-cream cheese, fresh red onions and lemon. Nina was a fan!
I opted for something a little more sinful, and went with the Large portion of the Wiener Schnitzel ($19), and they truly weren’t kidding about the portion:
If the full sized steak knife doesn’t give it away… Damn it’s huge. Sorry for the shadow. Paired with extra lemons, and a side of tartar sauce, this is a serious dish that delivers on flavor and heft, and will channel your inner German Lumberjack. Of course it’s tough to pound a pork fillet thin AND expect it to be still juicy, but this came very close.
It’s not often that I give a perfect score to a restaurant, but Bravo, Accent. Your attentive, honest staff, attention to detail, and truly skillful Chef have earned you Foodmonton’s highest honor. Nice wine list, and a decent Scotch selection to boot!
Absolutely DO NOT miss this restaurant… Please come back and comment after you eat here. Get the tartare if you can handle eating raw meat.
Nina: “If you took me here on a first date, expect to get a second date. ”
I knew there was a reason I came back to this city.