After a disappointing experience at the grand opening of the new restaurant Epic, in the downtown River North area of Chicago, I was a little hesitant to return for dinner. The event that evening was far too crowded and a little unorganized that left me pondering the concept of the new hot spot. I didn’t know whether they it was a club or a restaurant, so I decided to go back and check it out, after receiving a sincere message from their Maitre De.
Upon arrival, I again had the same thoughts. Is this a club or a restaurant? But as soon as we were seated in the main dining area, the concept became very clear. The downstairs bar area provides more of a lounge atmosphere with hip music, couches and hi top bar seating. The upstairs space is where the feasting takes place. The entire place is massive complete with four levels, including a rooftop terrace. Epic’s design is simple and straightforward. The architecture has a loft like appearance with elements of exposed brick, steel and concrete. It didn’t wow me, but it got my attention.
Epic’s dinner menu is filled with beef, chicken, pork and fish entrées. Seafood items plaster most of the appetizer section and they have a nice selection of salads and side dishes to choose from. Since I’m a connoisseur of lamb shanks, I opted for the “Spiced Lamb Shank” entrée. Our waiter assured me that their lamb shank would be right up there with the best that I’ve had. Well, I wouldn’t necessarily give it those props, but it was definitely tender and succulent. The combination of spices complemented the shank and the lamb jus was pungently flavorful without sweetness. My dinner guests enjoyed the “Chilean Sea Bass” and “Salt Crusted Market Fish For Two” entrées. The presentations for both dishes were done well. The “Brussels Sprouts” side dish prepared with bacon, honey and chestnuts tempted my taste buds. The sweet and savory combination helped me forget that I was eating brussels sprouts for a moment, but sprouts are sprouts.
Dinner was capped with dessert. The “Chocolate” and “Pumpkin & White Chocolate” desserts were sampled. The former consisted of flourless cake, mousse and hot fudge, and the latter was made with toasted white chocolate cake, roasted pumpkin ice cream and chestnut caramel. Both desserts were solid, but didn’t have me licking the plate. The service started off a little slow, but picked up as the dinner progressed. The atmosphere was festive, which helped the cocktails to flow more readily, although, I wouldn’t recommend Epic for a quiet evening at dinner. Expect to drop $50 per person on dinner before getting your keys back from the valet and be prepared to hang out for after dinner cocktails in the downstairs bar area. Overall Epic’s cuisine was solid with a good atmosphere and decent service. My final “Tru” rating is TTt.