Accent recently opened on Euclid Avenue, just before the entrance to Lakeview Cemetery. It is owned by SASA’s Scott Kim, and as soon as I read about the Robata Grill and Josper Oven, which flash-cook meats and vegetables leaving them perfectly cooked yet flavorful and deliciously moist, I was intrigued and knew I needed to check it out as soon as possible.
As the Accent website explains, “Often thought of as Japan’s best kept cooking secret, the Robata Grill reaches temperatures of 1,000 degrees ensuring a crisp, outer texture without overcooking the food on the inside. This cooking technique produces the most tender and moist vegetables and meats. … The Josper Oven, originated in Spain, combines the traditional oven with the characteristics of charbroiling. Kim chose to bring this method to Accent as it reaches the perfect temperature using the highest quality charcoal, ensuring rich and textured flavor is preserved without any charring.”
Like Crystal at East*Drink*Cleveland, I usually avoid new restaurants to allow them to find their groove and work out the kinks, but I simply couldn’t wait this time. The fact that it is so close to my home was definitely a deciding factor. You can see the warm and inviting red glow from the street. The egg-shaped dining room is modern yet inviting. Word of warning: I had trouble finding the front door. It is closer to the Uptown plaza center than the valet stand. It had been a pan-Asian week for me that week, having enjoyed a banh mi and pho at Saigon Grille for lunch and the SASA happy hour for a late dinner on Monday, dim sum at Emperor’s Palace on Wednesday and then Accent on Thursday.
I ordered a hot green tea to warm myself up along with a Rosemary Lemon Drop to start and followed it up with an Uptown Cosmo. The Rosemary Lemon Drop was good, but I preferred the Uptown Cosmo. The Lemon Drop was a little sweeter than I expected, having honey vodka in it. The Cosmo was more my style, even though I normally don’t order Cosmos. My friend E. ordered the overflow sake, which was served in a bento box on a saucer to catch the “overflow”. It was a unique and whimsical menu addition.
Chef Michael Lyon recognized E. (who had already been there 3 times, but this was the first time since it had opened), and sent out some complementary kim chee as a welcome. Normally I’m not a fan of kim chee (I worked at a Korean printing company for a bit in Germany where there were several batches marinating every day, I would come home smelling of kim chee), but this kim chee was delicious. Kim chee is a traditional fermented Korean dish made of vegetables with a variety of seasoning. It is traditionally a quite spicy pickled cabbage and other vegetables like daikon, all brined in salt, flavored with herbs, garlic, ginger, and often liberal amounts of red chili peppers. The pickled vegetables in Accent’s kim chee were light and fresh and not as spicy as some I have tried. I enjoyed it, which surprised me.
We of course had to order an order of the addictive SASA fries. The fries did not disappoint, being nice and crisp yet soft inside with a nice flavoring from the seasoning and rosemary. My favorite sauce is the orange dipping sauce. I always manage to finish it off before the fries are gone. Yum!
We asked to order off the lounge menu, because we wanted to try the small plate grilled items from the Robata Grill. Luckily our server was very amenable. I cobbled together a delightful meal from the various small plates. I started off with the Pork Broth with Vegetables, Beef and Brown Rice and a side of Shrimp Yakitori skewer. The menu said you could add any Robata item for $2, but I think the server misunderstood and charged me full price. I wasn’t going to quibble over $4, so I didn’t bother mentioning it. It certainly didn’t detract from my experience. In any event, I LOVED the ramen. The broth was extremely flavorful, and the vegetables were deliciously fresh. I felt very healthy for having ordered it. The shrimp yakitori was perfectly grilled, and the four shrimp on the skewers had a wonderful grilled taste to them. In fact, the heat from the grill had fused them together pretty well.
My friend B. ordered the Accent Crudo, which features tuna, hamachi, and salmon, off the dinner menu and let us try it. It is Accent’s version of ceviche, which is raw fish marinated (aka “cooked”) in lemon or lime juice. Crudo is the Italian version of sashimi: raw fish at the peak of freshness, dressed simply with olive oil and lemon. The fish was was very light, bright and fresh and not at all “fishy”. I will definitely be ordering this next time! I’m a sucker for a good ceviche, and this one did not disappoint!
I also knew I had to order a turkey rib (not pictured, because my photo didn’t do it justice), having read about it on Crystal’s blog, and even if I hadn’t come in knowing I would order it my friend E. had also insisted we all order one. It was divine. The meat was tender and nice and smoky. Most importantly it was deliciously moist. The “rib” is actually the collarbone, and it definitely got me in the mood for Thanksgiving.
We knew we needed to finish our meal with the s’mores. The s’mores feature four marshmallows that have been skewered, rolled in chocolate ganache and graham cracker crumbs and then blasted in the Robata. Chef Lyon invited us back to the kitchen once the rush had died down, and we were able to roast our s’mores over the Josper Oven. It was extremely hot (obviously), so we were very careful not to accidentally burn ourselves and not to have the melted marshmallow fall off the skewer.
Chef Lyon explained that they leave the Josper Oven on all night, moving the coals from the Robata to the oven to keep them warm. The temperature in the oven falls to 300 degrees overnight, but quickly fires up again in the morning. He proudly showed off his kitchen, and we tried as best we could to stay out of the staff’s way. He talked about wanting to possibly add a raw bar, and we were able to give him some suggestions that might be fun to see implemented. I can’t wait to see what he does with the place and really hope it succeeds in this up-and-coming district. Now that MOCA is open, be sure to pop down the street afterwards and enjoy their happy hour or tapas, lunch or dinner menus. We left pleasantly sated – but not too full – and looking forward to our next visit. If anyone wants to meet me there for Happy Hour just say the word!
11460 Uptown Avenue (Euclid)
Cleveland, Ohio 44106