Evening restaurant review
Solid locals eatery
Food: Well executed
Ambiance: Local hangout
Service: Friendly and low key
With each passing day the weather seems to creep closer and closer to summer. Okay, there might be the odd freak hail storm or snap of rain, but it is getting warmer. With the growing warmth comes thoughts of lighter, simpler fare. On a recent warmer evening myself and a friend were looking for just this kind of meal. An array of restaurants sprang to mind: the Tin Angel Cafe, Citris Grill, Trio. Neither of us had been to Epic before, and both of us had heard good things. We agreed it was the perfect time to try the place out.
Wendi and myself have a running joke when seeing people on television (or in print) talk about food. We see how many of the following words they can use to describe a dish or restaurant: seasonal, simple, fresh, rustic, local. The cuisine at Epic seems to fit all these categories, so I will resist the urge to use them throughout the review.
Epic sits in the same large parking lot as Ganesh Indian cuisine, which we reviewed a few months ago. As a result parking is a breeze. We arrived on Tuesday evening (6.15PM) without reservations and were happy to find the restaurant only half full. Our host quickly greeted us and led us through to the deceivingly large dining space.
I must admit to not being keen on the décor. We both concluded the color of the walls to be army-green. This was offset with pieces of modern art here and there, various styles of lighting and an open kitchen to the far end of the room. The exposed metalwork ceiling (pained black) compounded the overly dark feeling of the room. We both agreed a lighter color scheme would work wonders in what is a very big space.
Our waitress arrived to interrupt our amateur décor critiquing, we both ordered a glass of the Castle Rock Pinot Noir ($7). For a relatively casual establishment the wine list was interesting and well rounded. The menu featured 5-6 options by the glass for both red and white.
As we were looking for a lighter meal, we skipped the Flat Breads and went for the appetizers. I should note that the flat breads did look quite tasty, featuring a range of toppings.
My guest chose the Grilled Artichoke with Clarified Butter ($8):
A basic dish and executed well. One artichoke halved, grilled and topped with butter and little cheese. My companion was more than happy with his choice.
My choice was the Dungeness Crab Cake (Balsamic Remoulade & Sweet Bell Pepper Slaw, $7):
The crab cakes seemed to be pan fried, yet were surprisingly oily throughout. I actually enjoyed the slight greasiness, but I could see it may be a turn off for some. Flavor-wise they were perfectly fine, the remoulade was a nice match. The side slaw comprised cabbage, red onion and bell peppers. I would have liked to have seen less slaw and slightly bigger crab cakes mind you. A decent enough start though to the meal.
Both appetizers featured a pet hate of mine, a confetti around the edges of the plate. I might be in the minority, judging by the number of places that run with this decorative treat, but I think it just makes a plate look messy. Rarely does it add anything to the dish. Message to chefs: please stop, please!
With our appetizers cleaned off and wine glasses refilled, our entrées quickly appeared. Thankfully both plates were confetti-free and looked all the more clean and appetizing for it.
My friend opted for the Sautéed Pork Medallions (Caramelized Onion, Sherry/Sage Demi-Glace & Au Gratin Potatoes, $17):
I am told the pork was spot on. Cooked just to the point of done, it was moist and juicy. The medallions were topped with a tasty pile of carmelized onions. More praise came for the potatoes too. A thumbs up for the plate all round. Not a bite was left on the plate at the end of the meal.
I chose the Seared Ahi Tuna (Sweet & Spicy Peanut Sauce & Basmati Rice, $17):
As you can see from the picture, the tuna was studded with sesame seeds and seared ever so slightly, just how I like it. The accompanying peanut sauce was essentially a rendition of Thai Satay sauce. I didn’t detect the spicy element noted on the menu, all the better though as that would have overwhelmed the ahi. Surprisingly the rice was cooked well, I often find that rice can be an afterthought in a restaurant not featuring rice extensively throughout its dishes.
Both entrees featured the same vegetable side, mainly consisting of carrots, broccoli and mushrooms. At the price point of Epic I thought this was very disappointing. I would have preferred to have seen more thought and effort go into making something unique for each dish.
Which brings me onto a slight complaint, that of the pricing. I personally felt some of the options were overpriced. My ahi at $17 was a stretch, as was the artichoke at $8. This isn’t to say the menu was exorbitantly overpriced, I just feel it could stand to be a touch more keenly priced. The wine pricing was definitely reasonable.
On the whole our meal was largely enjoyable, we both commented on not feeling overly stuffed after the meal. The entrée portioning was just what we wanted. The atmosphere also grew on us, by the time we were into the full flow of our meal the restaurant was quite busy and buzzing. I could have happily hung around and had another glass of wine, if we hadn’t had plans.
Epic is clearly a restaurant with a loyal following, evident by the busyness for a Tuesday evening. If I lived a little closer I’d certainly return and try a few more dishes, from time to time. If you do live in the area, and want a meal that is: simple, seasonal, fresh, rustic and local, then it wouldn’t hurt to give Epic a whirl. There, I couldn’t resist…