Edmonton Restaurant Review: Accent European Lounge

A bowl of the hearty beef goulash with slices of rye bread.

A bowl of the hearty beef goulash with slices of rye bread.

Accent European Lounge (@accentlounge) has existed under this brand for almost eight years and, for nearly that entire time, I didn’t bother trying it. It’s an unassuming restaurant just off of Whyte Avenue. I probably walked by it hundreds of times, never paying it any attention. Rarely a consideration for food when I was in the neighbourhood, it continued to elude me. Not until the end of January did I finally enter its warm, inviting interior.

Originally intending to have dinner across the street at the relatively new MEAT, our attempts to get a table there were thwarted by dozens of other diners who had the same idea. Preferring to avoid an hour long wait for a table, one person in our group piped up and suggested Accent (which does accept reservations through OpenTable as well). Since it would mean checking off another eatery on my ever-growing list of Edmonton food establishments, I was game.

As we pushed through the double doors, we were greeted by a small space decked out with dark woods and copper accents. The clientele seemed a bit older, and for a Friday evening, it was by no means a full house (it did get busier as we ate). Reminding me of a traditional resto-pub in terms of appearance, the atmosphere is quiet, making it suitable for actual conversations. We planted ourselves at a table for four, and started to take a peek a the menu. As it turns out, the couple I was with had been frequenting the place quite regularly, so they were able to provide a few recommendations. They even mentioned that Accent offers a few great deals on appetizers and drinks throughout the week, which I plan to take advantage of later.

In addition to some usual draughts on tap, they also have a handful of rotating taps at the bar, which the sole male in our group was excited about. All I needed was an Alley Kat Aprikat that night and I was set to go. In every aspect, Accent keeps its choices simple and at a manageable size, so you’re never going to be overwhelmed by decisions.

With items like beef carpaccio, smoked salmon, hummus, steak tartar, beef goulash, chicken schnitzel and wiener schnitzel peppering the food menu, I could see that we were firmly planted in an authentic European inspired establishment. The name of the restaurant was justified, but would the dishes be up to par?

The beef carpaccio that we shared as an appetizer.

The beef carpaccio that we shared as an appetizer.

To start, we shared a plate of the beef carpaccio. Thinly sliced rare tenderloin was laid out on a plate, drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with cracked pepper and sea salt and topped with shaved Parmesan cheese. The flavours were light as was the beef. I would have preferred some greens, such as arugula, to add a bit of bitterness and texture, but it was still good.

Three out of four in our merry band opted for the beef goulash. A beef stew with peppers, mushrooms and paprika, served with slices of rye bread and butter, it looked thick and rich. The type of hearty meal you crave for a cold winter evening, it will keep you warm long after you have finished off the bowl.

The excellent and rich steak tartar with garlic and fried bread.

The excellent and rich steak tartar with garlic and fried bread.

I, on the other hand, couldn’t pass up the steak tartar once it was mentioned. Traditionally prepared, raw minced tender beef arrived the size of, I would guess, at least a six ounce steak with slices of fried crostini and a few fresh cloves of garlic. Not knowing what the garlic was for, I started breaking some tartar away from the patty with my knife. I was about to place it on a piece of crostini when someone exclaimed, “don’t you put garlic on your crostini first?” I admitted that I’d never seen steak tartar served with garlic before, so I wasn’t sure what the process was. Turns out, you take the clove of garlic and rub it on the toasty bread, and the garlic just melts right into it like butter. I had no idea, but I loved it, even if my breath was going to smell like that for a week. The crostini was so buttery and garlicky, the toast crisped up just right, and the melt-in-your-mouth steak tartar was seasoned to perfection. As full as I was when I was done, I left wanting more.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have room or time for dessert on that occasion, but now that I know how good the food and service is there, I will be sure to return. If you’re looking for a robust home cooked type of European meal, look no further than Accent.

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