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Could this brunch be Vancouver's best-kept secret?
I’m not sure I want to reveal this brunch spot. Brunch in Vancouver can be tough. We’re often faced with crazy long lines (which I will have no part of) or alternatively, a pretty blah meal that’s gulped down from a spot that has room for a reason. In comes The Red Accordion, a possible beacon of hope and deliciousness. Here’s the thing: best kept secrets are often a fool’s game. Usually they’re not secrets at all (they just have minimal seating), or they’re just places that no one goes to – so it feels like a secret when in reality it’s a pretty mediocre spot where you can grab some whatever eggs benedict. Not here.
The Red Accordion is in an unassuming house-turned restaurant that you may have walked by a thousand times. It’s nestled right between the West End and Coal Harbour, so it’s walkability (for me, at least) is prime. But of course, location isn’t everything – hangover be damned – I will travel far for a good meal. And even if I lived in a far-off land, I would make my way to this adorable restaurant. Yes, I said adorable. It has kitsch, style and a comfortable vibe that my partner described as “eating at a cool grandma’s house.” This is meant in the best way possible. My grandma could never be this cool (sorry g-ma).
Even before you enter, The Red Accordion is cute. It’s painted barn-red and they have a temporary patio that’s fitted with a very Narnia-esque lamppost that beckons all who brunch. When you walk inside, you’re greeted by a retro tv and a display cabinet filled with VHS tapes (I spied Baseketball – amazing). You head up a set of stairs to the second floor for brunch. The space is divided into two: one has more traditional tables and the second area is outfitted with comfy lounge seating, a roaring fireplace and a stained glass window.
But let’s get onto the food. Or rather, the mimosa. If you read my previous brunch review, you’d have seen that I think a mimosa is a key sign of a restaurant’s brunch-ability. The Red Accordion did it so well that we ordered two each—solely to make sure the first two weren’t flukes—they weren’t. Tight fizz, low juice to bubbly ratio and although there was no pulp, the orange tasted fresh, bright and sweet. You also have the option for grapefruit, should you be inclined.
The brunch menu at The Red Accordion is incredibly unique. Yes, they have classic options where you can get eggs in whatever style but even then, the sausage and bacon are made in-house. This farm-to-table restaurant doesn’t mess around. We ordered the It’s The Claw Vol.2 Benny ($25) and the Rabbit Breakfast Sandwich ($23). The It’s The Claw comes with butter poached North Atlantic sourced lobster, two poached eggs, tobiko, their not-so-classic béarnaise and is served on fried dough with a side of field greens. This may be the best eggs benedict I’ve ever had. Yes, the eggs are the only ingredient that traditionally come on a benedict, but that was the best part. The lobster was perfectly cooked, no stringy or rubbery texture here. They also didn’t skimp on it: it was piled high. The not-so-classic bearnaise was rich, but not so heavy as to disrupt the very delicate flavour of lobster. Fried dough? Incredible, why isn’t everything served on fried dough? (Answer: here, it can be.)
The rabbit breakfast sandwich’s highlight is the house-made rabbit sausage. Rabbit in general can lean, well, lean but you wouldn’t know it from this sandwich. The sausage patty was seasoned well, but the flavour of the rabbit is what really shined. A sunny-side fried egg added additional richness – as did the not-so-classic béarnaise (the same one on the benedict). A pile of crispy onions added some much-needed crunch. A big slice of an impossibly fresh tomato (it’s winter so I wasn’t expecting much) and butter lettuce brought a freshness and their house-made brioche held it all together.
Both breakfasts were served with a field green salad rather than your traditional potato side. Although I love a fried potato, the lightness of greens brightened up the dish as a whole, with an acidic vinaigrette that truly balanced the meal.
I will come back to The Red Accordion. In fact, my partner and I had a very serious discussion about making it our regular spot. As much as I’m looking forward to sitting on their patio in the summer sun, it’s the cozy atmosphere of the second floor that I can’t wait to go back to. Well, that and lobster benedict.
The Red Accordion, 1616 Alberni St. 604-428-6464, theredaccordion.com Hours: Monday – Friday 12PM-12AM; Saturday – Sunday 11AM-12AM