Epic Roasthouse

meter-great+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.

We were banished to the 'outdoor area' which was still quite cozy.

We were banished to the ‘outdoor area’ which was still quite cozy.

” 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 view here does not suck.

The view here does not suck.

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.

'Späetzle' is German for 'straight to my waistline'.

‘Späetzle’ is German for ‘straight to my waistline’.

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.

Have you ever seen peanut brittle at a restaurant before? Me either.

Have you ever seen peanut brittle at a restaurant before? Me either.

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.

One of this things is not like the others.

One of this things is not like the others.

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 was 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

Epic Roasthouse
369 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 369-9955

Click to add a blog post for Epic Roasthouse on Zomato

This is the gateway to an extremely full belly.

This is the gateway to an extremely full belly.

P.S. Whew, I made it through the whole writeup without saying “epic win” once!

P.P.S. Damnit, I just did.

Willow Street Pizza

meter-good+Willow Street Pizza is one of those places I never think of visiting until I’m standing right outside its door. This South Bay mini chain isn’t remarkable in any particular way, but it’s consistently above average and always sends me away satisfied with my choice to eat there. All of the Willow Street restaurants are also dog-friendly, which is a big plus in my book.

One afternoon in November, my wife Shawn and I found ourselves being dragged around Los Gatos by our two pint-sized dogs. We were finished with our primary objective – visiting every interesting shrub and fire hydrant the city had to offer – and so we moved on to locating a place to have lunch. We needed somewhere with outdoor seating, patio heaters, and tolerance of pooches. It didn’t take us long to narrow down our choice to Willow Street Pizza.

As we approached the restaurant, we noticed that there were plenty of open tables on the patio. Excellent. Shawn went inside to speak with the hostess and get us seated… and instead came out with a pager. “It’ll be 20 to 25 minutes” Shawn said, not trying too hard to hide her irritation. I looked around at all the empty tables as if to say, “Are they on crack?” Shawn shrugged. I shrugged. We waited.

Look at all those happy, invisible patrons. No wonder there's a wait.

Look at all those happy, invisible patrons. No wonder there’s a wait.

” I looked around at all the empty tables as if to say, ‘Are they on crack?’ “

20 minutes went by in a flash, with “flash” being defined as the amount of time it takes a set of human buttocks to go completely numb due to sitting on cold bricks while waiting outside a restaurant. Mercifully, the pager went off around then and we were whisked away to a nice, clean table underneath a toasty heat lamp.

Our server swooped by promptly, apologizing for the wait and setting us up with fresh bread. Well, that’s more like it. My Like-O-Meter had been dipping dangerously, but now it was working its way back up to a more reasonable level. I was barely through tearing off a piece of bread when our server stopped by again to take our drink order. Shawn chose a made-to-order ginger ale, and I went for the Shipyard Smashed Blueberry ale featured on the seasonal beverage board.

It was like getting wasted on breakfast muffins.

It was like getting wasted on breakfast muffins.

Actually no, it wasn’t ale… it was a malt beverage. Well it sure tasted like ale, and a good one at that. It had outstanding blueberry flavor, but not in a weird way. And sheesh, 9.0% alcohol? That’s a strong one. While I was engrossed in the flavor of my blueberry malt thing, Shawn ordered us a Gorgonzola salad with cranberries and a pepperoni and olive pizza. Perfect.

Gorgonzola and cranberries go surprisingly well together.

Gorgonzola and cranberries go surprisingly well together.

It didn’t take longs for our food to arrive, and it was very good. That beer though, wow! Yeah, pretty strong.. Big bottle too, 22oz. The gorgonzogla salad was surprisingly good for just being a salad. I mean, it’s a salad right? Who notices things like a salad? but anyway we liked it. And there’s cranberries in it! Oh yeah, that’s in the name. Loving this beer.

Very slightly oily but extremely flavorful. Overall a great pie.

Very slightly oily but extremely flavorful. Overall a great pie.

we got the pizza when I was halfway through my ale. Really tastes like blueberries. no not that I meant the beer. Hey when did the pizza get here? It was fairly shimple but very nicely made, and I’m sure someone made it by hand. real good that pizza with good crust. Man. and this beer still isnt empty. here Shawn you need to take the car keys. WOO has someone turned up the patio heater I think? lol

well we had to wait while to eat but we finally did so great! THe blueberry ale was one of the best salads i’ve had, and the cranberry piza was good with my beer Hey whos dogs are these. i rate Willow Street Pizza pretty good but not acceptional, defently worth going back. omg this ale has BULEBERRIES

Willow Street Pizza
Multiple locations around the Bay Area
Willow Street Wood-Fired Pizza on Urbanspoon

Willow Street's Los Gatos location is a nice place to be, provided you can get seated.

Willow Street’s Los Gatos location is a nice place to be, provided you can get seated.