Any restaurant named “Epic Roasthouse” is either incredibly good or a total disappointment. As luck would have it, I had the opportunity to find out for myself recently, and I am happy to report that I had a very non-disappointing experience. The service is great, the food is even better, and the view isn’t bad either. Epic Roasthouse isn’t exactly cheap, but if you’re looking to save a few bucks, Taco Bell is right down the street.
” Oh dear. This was going to hurt. “
After a trafficky but otherwise uneventful drive into San Francisco, my wife Shawn and I left the car with the valet and walked inside Epic to claim our reservation. The place is oozing with a “reclaimed industrial” vibe, complete with exposed pipes and other excitingly chunky rusted things. It’s trendy and dangerously close to being too hip, but it works. We were led to our table on the patio, where we met up with the remaining 33% of our dinner party and sat down to enjoy the view.
The menu was what I call “typical steakhouse length”, meaning that it fit on exactly two pages. This is either good or bad, depending on your particular tastes, but in this case it was a very good thing. Epic seemed to be reading my mind with every single menu item.
The offerings were refreshingly simple without being boring. Each featured some slight twist to show that they cared enough to make it unique, but not gourmet’d-to-death like so many restaurants love to do by adding of cheetah larnyx extract, hyper rare panda dung mushrooms, and tree frog kidneys. Nope, Epic forgoes the gastric silliness and instead offers good, old fashioned kick-ass steaks with kick-ass sauces, honest but delicious-sounding sides like “Julia Child” potatoes and bacon roasted Brussels sprouts, and desserts so wickedly decadent that you are tempted to skip dinner altogether.
We ordered a couple steaks, a build-your-own salad, and a healthy assortment of sides. The steaks were… well, they were epic. Ok fine, Epic Roasthouse gets to keep its name – they do indeed live up to the hype. They both talk the talk and walk the walk. Confirmed.
To be honest, I expected the steak to be amazing, so it was hardly a surprise. To me, the true character of Epic would be revealed in the side dishes, and I am happy to report that these were even better than the steaks. The clear star of the show was the späetzle gratin – it was a succulent and deliciously cheesy interpretation of classic baked mac that absolutely exploded with flavor. The fries were slightly above average, and the asparagus was tasty and fresh. We all kept going back to the späetzle though, it was simply incredible.
At this point in the meal I was already uncomfortably full, and there was no way I was going to have dessert. No chance, none. The waitperson dropped off a dessert menu anyway, a useless gesture, and then my eyes fell on the s’mores brownie cake with peanut brittle.
Oh dear. This was going to hurt.
Mercifully, Epic’s dessert portion sizes were decidedly un-American (i.e., they were smaller than an aircraft carrier). The smores cake looked exactly as decadent as it sounded, and it tasted even better. The addition of scratch-made peanut brittle to the standard chocolate-graham-marshmallow combination really worked and helped to bring the whole dish together.
A trio of sorbets also made an appearance at our table. The flavors were cala orange, blackberry, and banana. Those same flavors represented in intensity by font size were cara cara orange, blackberry, and BANANA. The orange was light, the blackberry was light and refreshing, and the banana was IN YOUR FACE and had at least ten times more potent than the other two. The orange and blackberry seemed downright watery after tasting the banana, but they actually worked quite well as a trio.
I have to say that I was rather impressed with my meal at Epic Roasthouse. It’s not a cheap place to eat, but in a strange twist I felt like I actually got my money’s worth out of the meal. Well, mostly anyway. The food is honest, well-made, and just creative enough to justify the lofty prices; think of it as an upscale restaurant that offers real food instead of typical “fine dining” fare. I give Epic 37 out of 40 feet of rusty industrial pipe, a solid rating for a solid establishment.
+ Straightforward, good food
+ Killer views
++ Best späetzle outside of Germany
– It stings the wallet a bit
– The dessert menu will hurt you
+ I guess that’s a good thing though
369 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94105
P.S. Whew, I made it through the whole writeup without saying “epic win” once!
P.P.S. Damnit, I just did.