EPIC Smokehouse, a new restaurant that opened its doors last month in Pentagon City, situates itself between two carnivore-friendly dining traditions. The first, and most obvious as diners walk in the door, is that of an upscale steakhouse. The wood-slat wall that bears the restaurant’s name is chic and modern. The long and narrow dining room is elegantly appointed with wooden tables and dark leather benches. The table setting suggests a fine dining experience. But in perusing the menu, taking in the sounds of classic rock music pumping into the dining room, and watching all the action happen within the open concept kitchen, the barbecue shack influence presents itself, bringing with it cravings for smoked meats to grip between sauce-sticky fingers.
They are two distinct dining styles, each with its own advantages and disadvantages, but they converge on one common point: They make meat eaters happy. And EPIC Smokehouse has a menu that, from start to finish, will take diners on a meat-filled journey of re-imagined barbecue favorites and gourmet treats with down-home flair.
Appetizers steer clear of beef, which dominates the entrée selection, instead offering many seafood- and pork-based dishes. Among them is the Kahlua Pig Roll ($8), which packs large, well-roasted chunks of Hawaiian Kahlua pig into a fried wonton wrapper with cabbage and scallion for a bit of crunch. Salads and soups are also offered, for those who might not be ready to plunge head-first into the bevy of meat dishes at the start.
Most entrees are divided between the “Big Plates” and “Steaks and Chops” menu sections, the former featuring barbecue platters and the latter containing large steakhouse-style cuts of meat.
Pulled pork, brisket, and ribs are just some barbecue standards that make the menu. An order of the Apple Wine Smoked Ribs ($24) brings a sizeable portion of meat to the table, rich with smoky flavor accented by the exciting complexity of the apple wine glaze and spice rub. Hand-cut fries and coleslaw complete the massive platter.
The four-piece “Steaks and Chops” selection boasts heart-quickening portions of prime rib, filet mignon, ribeye, and lamb chops. The Black Angus Ribeye ($25) comes teetering on a mound of Brussels sprouts that cozy up to bacon slices and dried fruit pieces. A drizzle of tangy red wine sauce zigzags across the porcini-rubbed steak, accenting its savory flavor.
Side dishes vary depending upon the dish, and are available a la carte for $4 or $5, like the wonderfully rich Pancetta Macaroni and Cheese ($5), served from a small, warm skillet.
Sweets like pies and funnel cake are offered as dessert, but one treat among them is enough to make any meat lover’s heart skip a beat. Yes, meat even finds its way onto the dessert menu with the Candied Bacon Cupcake ($7). A slice of the porcine confection is served atop a chocolate cupcake topped in caramel icing. While it is certainly a novelty, the uniqueness of the idea is matched by its excellent flavor; the sweet, smoky, and chewy candied bacon suits the cupcake well.
A restaurant that puts EPIC right in its name is making a big claim, but this smokehouse has the barbecue and steaks, with inventive flavors and gourmet treatments, to back it up.
EPIC Smokehouse is located at 1330 S. Fern St., Arlington. For more information, call 571-319-4001 or visit epicsmokehouse.com. Restaurant hours are Monday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Friday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.; and Sunday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.