When you enter Accent European Lounge, located just off Whyte Avenue, it feels like you’re walking into a tavern across the Atlantic. There’s a distinctly European feel, with low ceilings and close-together tables full of people telling travel tales well into the night. And when a live band plays, the lounge takes on the feel of an Irish tavern on a Friday night.
The photos on the wall are of Italian icons, and the menu has similar influences, including a very traditional starter, the bruschetta. Several pieces of bread come next to a bowl full of the toppings – tomatoes, onions, basil and garlic – that taste as fresh as they sound.
But the starter that steals our attention and holds it for the rest of the meal is the beef carpaccio. Paper-thin meat is spread across the plate and topped with parmesan. With a peppery finish, the rare meat is full of flavour and, if you dare to take a tiny bite of a hot pepper on the side, you’ll end with a fiery finish. It brought tears to my companion’s eye for several minutes after she nonchalantly bit into it; so you’ve been warned, please proceed with caution.
At this point, we’re almost full before we start the meal, but we’re intrigued by a few other dishes. I go for the beef goulash, which in this case is more in line with a soup than a stew. The broth is hearty, though, and comes with large chunks of tender meat. It’s a modest bowl, but ideal for pairing with a salad or a starter. The maple Dijon salmon has a mild sweetness, but the mustard flavour is strong and pairs well with the tender meat, which comes on top of a bed of fettuccine next to several cooked vegetables.
We finish the meal with a slice of apple strudel that we smelled baking in the kitchen. It’s still warm when it comes to the table. My friend notes the sweetness is mild and the crust is reminiscent of home-baked apple pie. (8223 104 St., 780-431-0179, accentlounge.com)