Happy New Year! I recently had the pleasure of indulging my love of barbeque at Epic Smokehouse (EPIC) in Pentagon City. EPIC is the brainchild of long-time friends and Palm alumni Joon Yang and Wayne Halleran. The concept is simple: high-quality smoked meats and seafood paired with innovative cocktails and high-caliber wine at affordable prices, brought to you with incomparable service. What sets EPIC apart from so many other new restaurants with a great concept is that it actually delivers all that it promises and more.
Yang and Halleran’s dedication to quality is an obsession, as they seem to ignore their short-term bottom line in the pursuit of building a long-term standard bearer for the neighborhood. For example, EPIC has a remarkable wine list compared to its peers, with a selection of bottles matching that of a high-end steakhouse, but at half the price. In addition, EPIC is neighborhood-friendly, offering big discounts for local police and other civil servants. At Thanksgiving, EPIC offered a full turkey dinner for pick-up at less than half the price of other shops with much less appealing fare, just to help out locals who were unwilling or unable to cook their own meals.
On top of all of their personal attention and laser focus on quality, EPIC has a wonderful, cozy atmosphere. The décor is rustic barn wood, brushed concrete, and rich dark leather. The kitchen is open and the bar is long and stocked with sophisticated whiskeys and other liquors.
Every dish I tried was perfection. The Kahlua Pig Roll is a slow roasted Hawaiian Kahlua pig in a wonton wrapper with pickled cabbage, grilled scallion and toasted sesame seeds. Images a pig roasting on a spit in Hawaii filled my mind.
The jalapeno poppers (only on the bar menu but you can request them for regular dining as well) are simply the best poppers I’ve ever had. Enough said.
The Short Ribs were slow cooked with carrots, Asian radish and sweet potato with a sweet soy glaze and wasabi cream sauce. A delicious twist on a familiar classic.
And the dry rubbed, slow smoked beef brisket and pancetta mac and cheese are absolutely to die for. The attention to details and small flavor twists without gimmicks in all of these dishes elevate EPIC beyond a typical “barbeque joint” to a true smokehouse.
Finally, I finished with the Bourbon Bread Pudding with Smoked Ice Cream, which is decadent... the Warm Homemade Bread Pudding a la mode, sufficiently large and sweet to feed a family (or use the leftovers for the next day’s breakfast). . .
and the Hot Funnel Cake with Drunken Berries and Whipped Cream, an upscale take on the summer fair funnel cakes that we all love so much, but at a price that, shockingly, is lower than what you’d find at the fair.
Overall, EPIC gets two huge thumbs up in every category. This is the type of place you’ll want to try not once, not twice, but over and over again.