As Snoopy used to write, “It was a dark and stormy night,” and I definitely was NOT in a good mood as I sat in the Bay Bridge traffic for over an hour just to drive 2 miles to my reservation at Epic. Not to mention, I totally ruined my new pair of leather boots, even with valet parking, as I dashed from my car to the restaurant. My guest was also disgruntled since she had been waiting that hour for me, and had mistakenly ordered a glass of wine that with tip, was over $30.00. (NOT the restaurant’s fault, she simply didn’t see the tiered prices for a taste vs. a glass.)
I would never have thought that a manly steakhouse could provide such a cozy haven from the storm,
but, somehow Pat Kuleto managed to turn some dark wood, heavy metal, industrial pumps and a huge flywheel, (whatever that is) into a surprisingly chic, comfy eatery. Of course, the dramatic picture windows outlining the gorgeous Bay view didn’t hurt.
The staff was equally, if not even a tad more gracious, than the great cast at Waterbar. When I asked for dining suggestions I got some very well thought out answers, from my sommelier (loved all his picks) all the to my sweetly enthusiastic busboy.
A novel table condiment was provided by the colorful trio of salts, which we taste-tested on the trio of warm breads; sourdough, mini-popovers and addictive madeleine-shaped cornbread.
The menu’s obviously loaded with all sorts of wonderful meat choices, which made it hard to pick just one -or three- as we did, but we were very happy with our Beef Tartare ( a classic preparation oozing fresh flavor) and the Veal Porterhouse Chop , which was big enough to feed an army but was so buttah-tender that we didn’t leave a speck. Wanting to see what Chef Jan Birnbaum could do when he stretched a little, I also ordered the Lamb, Prune and Armagnac Sausage with Raclette Cheese and Roasted Potatoes. This was the perfect stormy weather,gather-round-the-fire dish! Woman does not live by meat alone, so we also “forced” ourselves to try some of the By-Sea selections. The Shrimp Remoulade served on a bed of greens with fingerling potatoes was just the prettiest presentation and ever-so nicely spiced. The warm Wood Roasted Chili Squid Salad with White Beans, Olive and Tomato Confit was a perfect balance of flavors, and easily enough for two to share.
Just because I liked the menu heading, “Things You Just Want in a Steakhouse” a.k.a. Sides, I ordered the Truffled Cauliflower which arrived cooked perfectly al dente, but alas, the truffle flavor had “gone missing.”
Although we didn’t have any room for dessert, I’m glad our waiter insisted because otherwise we would have missed out on the hot, comforting brown-bag Beignets with a sipping glass of Bicerin Café au Lait on the side, and the Almond Brown Butter Cake with Toffee Sauce and Blood Orange Curd- a rich, tasty, delicate presentation that really wowed us.
Tip: Don’t miss the comfy upstairs Quiver Bar, which offers the full menu and also a cleverly edited version with “Things You Just Want on a Bar Menu.”
369 The Embarcadero ,San Francisco;