If you remember my TNL Travels posts on New Orleans you will remember that one of the highlights of Louisiana was THE FOOD. I was in heaven with all of the seafood and creole delights. I thought I would have to book a ticket back to N’awlins to experience that again.
Recently I did a double take when I was driving past a storefront that advertised oysters and po’boy sandwiches.
Turns out that popular downtown Toronto Mirvish Village area restaurant Southern Accent has opened a mini me express resto in the ‘burbs. This may be good news as things are changing downtown and Mirvish Village may soon be no more, much like the iconic Honest Ed’s store.
From the Southern Accent Express site:
“With the news that Honest Eds and Mirvish Village have been sold Southern Accent Restaurant, now celebrating its 30th year, has an expiry date. Southern Accent pioneered the Mardi Gras dining experience in Toronto, with top flight Cajun, Creole and Soul cuisine, cozy corners, and, of course, the best zydeco music in town. The Old Victorian house location on Markham will continue to operate until a new location is found. On April 3rd 2014 Southern Accent opened a new kind of restaurant. “Southern Accent Express” offers delivery and takeout of popular items like succulent Blackened Chicken, fiery Jambalaya, delicious cornbread, flaky catfish, thick and rich gumbo and more! Both Southern Accent and Southern Accent Express offer Gluten Free and Vegetarian options. 7 days a week, Southern Access Express will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Under the watchful eye of Southern Accent founder/partner Frances Wood and chef/partner Thessavan Maniceavasakan, you can start your day with a coffee and corn muffin treat, grab a quick lunch or pick up dinner on your way home. This down home cooking is sure to please! ”
Sign me up!
Southern Accent Express is a very small storefront within a strip mall in Scarborough. It could easily go unnoticed if not for the menu specials advertised outside.
Inside of the restaurant, there is a hot counter and pastry display with such goodies as pecan tarts, bread pudding and sweet potato brownies.
There are only a handful of tables, and it is takeout style with customers placing orders and paying before sitting down to eat. There are some whimsical and fun decorations around the small resto, adding to the charming and casual setting.
The service at Southern Accent Express was fantastic. From the moment we walked through the door we were welcomed by an extremely an enthusiastic staff member. She let us know about all of the delicious offerings and even offered samples of their bestsellers. This was so valuable, as the menu is huge and overwhelming.
We were given samples of beef brisket, grits, jambalaya, gumbo and soup to taste. All incredibly delicious.
Once we ordered, food was prepared fresh and quickly. Friendly and efficient staff clearly make visits to Southern Accent pleasant and memorable, as a number of “regulars” came in during my time there.
As I mentioned, the Southern Accent menu is very large and overwhelming. It can be very difficult to decide on what to order as everything sounds delicious. This just means I’ll have to keep visiting until I try everything. That can be arranged.
We were very impressed with our sample of the jambalaya, so decided to order this as a full meal.
The Canal Street Jambalaya is a highly seasoned rice dish with chicken, smoked ham, Andouille sausage and tomatoes. It is served on a bayou sauce and topped with shredded sautéed collard greens.
The jambalaya is expertly seasoned with just the right amount of heat. It is chock full of delicious meat morsels. I find that jambalaya can often be quite dry, not here! It is moist, fluffy rice served on top the most delicious bayou sauce. Southern Accent also serves a Creole poutine featuring this delicious rue based sauce, I will have to give it a try one day.
Although the Canal Street Jambalaya is delicious, I would not suggest ordering it alone as a meal for one. Even sharing this, we were unable to finish because it is a very rich dish. I would recommend ordering this as an accompaniment for at least three people to share.
The second meal we chose was my favourite, Dauphine Street Cracker Catfish.
This dish featured a farm raised Louisiana catfish fillet with a crispy coating of crackers and spices. It was served with pickled jalapeno tartar sauce, cheese grits and seared collard greens. Yum, yum, YUM.
The meaty fish was cooked to perfection, with a crisp yet light tasty coating. It paired absolutely perfectly with the Southern Accent house made lime and garlic hot sauce.
The collard greens ( also served with the jambalaya) were the best I have ever had. I loved that they were steamed to sogginess. They actually had a bit of crunch, which I really enjoyed.
Now, let’s talk about the cheese grits. Oh my goodness. I am familiar with grits that looks a bit like porridge. The Southern Accent staff explained that this runny grits is known as breakfast grits. What they serve is a thicker, less mealy type of grits, referred to as dinner grits. This grits is baked with cheese and while it sounds like it would be decadent and overly rich, it was just perfect. I would call this a must-try for anyone visiting the resto.
We capped off our meal with a cup of cinnamon coffee and an order of beignets. If you have ever had beignets in New Orleans, you can imagine my excitement.
Southern Accent’s version were very disappointing. In all fairness, I don’t know how anything could possibly live up to beignets from the famous Cafe Du Monde. But, this was a sad attempt. Authentic beignets are hot and fluffy, whereas these were just hard little crescents of fried dough.
Skip these and wait for the opportunity to try the real deal. I wish I hadn’t wasted valuable tummy space on these and instead tried the corn bread or hush puppies. Lesson learned for next time.
I have to mention some of the delicious sounding menu items that I absolutely must go back and try. Baked Garlic with feta and olives, Marie Laveau Voodoo Seafood Pasta and Creole Mac and Cheese are now officially on my to-do list. I am also intrigued by the Tofu Po’boy sandwich. Southern Accent Express has some fantastic sounding vegetarian options.
I feel that the Southern Accent Express menu is very reasonably priced for the quality of specialty food available. All entrees are priced between nine and eleven dollars, with side dishes only two or three dollars. Serving sizes are reasonable, allowing it possible to order and try a few items off of the menu on each visit.
I adore everything to do with New Orleans, so I am thrilled to find a spot that has captured a bit of the flavour and charm of this wonderful city and its food closer to home. I found this little gem to be welcoming and warm and I absolutely intend to return to sample more of their menu.
Southern Accent Express is located 3655 St.Clair Avenue East, (416) 536-1806.