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FOOD & DRINK

Healthful Options Abound

Epic Food Company
1125 Military Cutoff Rd. #E
(910) 679-4216
Price: $-$$
Bottom Line: I certainly look forward to my next visit.

LIGHT LUNCH: Try Epic Food Company’s brown rice bowl with smoked salmon, California chips and fruit-infused waters for a light, flavorful lunch. Photo by Eliza Dillard

I’ll admit: hyperbole bugs me. for instance, if restaurants claim to offer the “best” anything, I get annoyed. I always want to grab somebody in charge and say, “Look, just put out a quality product and let consumers decide if it’s good—let alone the ‘best.’” Grandiosity does not serve many well.

My linguistic bias aside, Epic Food Company, located in the Forum on Military Cutoff Road, offers an interesting menu design and unique, healthful dining experience. Though it isn’t exactly all its name implies (“epic”), it is certainly good. I’d recommend it if only for the opportunity to try something different. Chef James Bain has done a fantastic job creating a menu with countless permutations and interesting options. I could eat there every day for a month and never have the same experience twice. Thankfully, the food makes Epic very easy to recommend.

The concept is simple, though not necessarily perfect in its execution. Diners take a menu and mark their selections with a pencil. During my visit, I wandered aimlessly for a moment, as the station to place orders is located toward the back of the room and isn’t marked quite as well as it might be. But something like that won’t deter me from a new dining experience, so I forged on.

A helpful clerk explained my options: Either select one of the predetermined meals the chef has concocted, or mix and match ingredients to my own taste. I couldn’t resist experimenting, so I went to work, concocting two bowls for myself, one over brown rice, the other over rice noodles, in their special “multi-vitamin broth.” Just out of curiosity, I ordered a small version of the “unbreaded and un-fried organic chicken nuggets” from the children’s menu. The chicken was a bit dry, but the damp lettuce wraps and some Sriracha handled that problem nicely. The sweet potato chips, served with every entrée, proved crisp and salted to perfection.

My brown rice bowl, with a house-smoked salmon base and a delightful peanut sauce, made the trip well worth it. I’ve never been a fan of brown rice’s texture, but I’m well aware of the nutritional advantages it has over white. Thus, I try to bring myself to eat it when the option is available. As Epic doesn’t offer white rice, my choice became rather clear. The subtle smoky flavor of the salmon blended elegantly with the nutty rice, and the mild spice pervading the peanut sauce brought the whole dish together.

My second bowl paired organic, grilled beef with rice noodles in a vitamin broth, topped with a scallion ginger sauce. The broth didn’t prove particularly flavorful; then again, I have no earthly idea what vitamins, much less their broth, are supposed to taste like—except for maybe minerals. Thankfully, the scallion ginger sauce provided ample flavor overall, I was particularly fond of the beef. Rich and tender, it reminded me why organic meats cost more: They’re worth it.

With each bowl I was permitted up to five predominantly vegetable pairings (listed on the menu as “the good stuff”). Stand-outs from this list include the gingery veggies and the green apple pickle. Each taste pleasantly tart and make the respective dishes livelier and more interesting.

Epic genuinely impresses me with their healthful menu. Since I’ve already made one linguistic rant, I’ll make another: the vegetables on your plate are not “healthy.” In fact, they are dead, which is pretty much the opposite of healthy. However, their nutrient content and low-calorie count make them “healthful.” I promise that will be my last complaint about culinary grammar for a while.

Diners would be remiss to overlook Epic’s infused waters. The lemon-lime version gets billed as a sports drink and tastes fantastic. Though the pineapple-cucumber version was a bit bland, I suspect it hadn’t sat long enough to properly infuse. I’ll certainly give it another chance in the near future.

My only real disappointment in Epic came with the discovery that they sold out of California chips earlier in the day. I was told not to miss them, yet had no choice but; still, a sold-out item is typically a popular item. I’m guessing it will be worth another trip.

Epic Food Company is worth a look and a taste. Additionally, I give the restaurant a lot of credit for offering so many vegetarian and vegan choices. While I’m an unabashed omnivore, dining with friends who eschew meat can be a chore. Restaurant managers and chefs have been exceptionally slow to embrace the vegetarian market, often leaving that task to specialty shops and a few ethnic establishments (I wouldn’t know where to take a vegetarian if not for Indian restaurants). Epic makes it so easy, I’m left to wonder why others have made it so tough.

Just as well, Epic Food Company is a good place for those of us looking to improve our diets without sacrificing flavor. Open for breakfast, lunch and early for dinner (they close at 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday), I certainly look forward to my next visit.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Cammy Bain

    June 6, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    While I thought your review was very fair, I have to tell you that our dictionary defines “heathy” as “conducive to good health.” Therefore, although the vegetables may be described as “dead”, they are still “healthy.” Thanks, Cammy Bain
    (yes, there is a possible conflict of interest)

  2. Joe Schmo

    July 24, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Linguistically, journalistically, grammatically, is “I’d” actually acceptable these days?

    • encore

      July 24, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      Yes, as is any contraction that stands for two words: we’re, they’re, she’s, he’ll…
      Thanks for writing, Joe Schmo! —Shea Carver, editor

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