Dining out: epic

Published: Friday, Jan. 20 2006 12:00 a.m. MST

MIDVALE — As a friend and I savored our meals at epic, the Fort Union neighborhood's newest eatery, she looked around and said, "There aren't many restaurants like this around here."

I see her point. While the area is loaded with restaurants, they tend toward the fast-food and family-friendly variety. Even the more fancy (or more expensive) places tend to have a raucous, informal vibe.

The restaurant epic is different, with a decidedly refined atmosphere and upscale, elegantly presented food. It would be a great place for a business dinner, or a date, or a night out for the adults.

Not that they'll turn you away if you bring the kids along. On the night we visited, two families with children were accommodated with high chairs and seemed well taken care of, though there's no kids' menu. It's just that epic — with its warm-rubbed walls, metal art pieces, dusky lighting and blues playing in the background — feels more like a grown-up getaway.

We started with one of epic's signature flatbreads, though it was hard to choose among a selection of creative toppings ranging from Kobe steak to foie gras. Ours featured grilled chicken, walnut pesto and English cheddar cheese with dried cranberries, which we scooped onto wedges of crisp-tender oiled bread. The cheese was spreadable and sweetly sharp, the pesto mellow and nutty, and the meaty, moist chicken actually tasted like something other than bland.

Next, we had salads, each of which is named for a person. Again, the choice was a hard one, but after a consultation with our poised and informative server, we had "Mr. Morton's" and "Ken's."

Mr. Morton's salad had an excellent base of snappy-fresh mixed greens topped with crumbles of creamy-and-bitter blue cheese, firm halved grapes, chopped toasted walnuts and a balsamic vinaigrette with shallots. Ken's salad had the same greens plus paper-thin crispy apple slices, house-dried tomatoes, fontina cheese and candied pecans, lightly dressed with a roasted tomato vinaigrette. Both were scrumptious, but I'll give a slight edge to Ken's.

For dinner, my friend had the chicken breast with a light but kicky mushroom-marsala reduction, heavy on the mushrooms, as well as a fluted, piped-on ball of shallot-herb mashed potatoes, in which the herbs made a strong, aromatic statement.

I had the superlative ahi tuna, six black sesame-crusted slices of seared tuna arranged around a crisp-crusted roasted red pepper risotto cake and sitting in a pool of gravylike peanut sauce. The tuna was fine-textured and delicious without a hint of fishiness, and the sweet, nutty sauce, though savory, was not assertive, complementing the fish without overshadowing its more nuanced flavors. Considering the deep, smoky flavor that roasted red pepper usually brings to a dish, the creamy risotto cake was surprisingly bland.

For dessert, we shared the New York cheesecake, a delicately browned and subtly grainy rendition with nice, creamy-sour flavor notes in a puddle of creme anglaise, and the more unusual strawberries and blueberries in cinnamon-amaretto cream. In this jazzy riff on strawberries and cream, the cinnamon and amaretto lend a dark earthiness to the bright, fresh fruits.

In other words, it's a dessert that's elegant, a little different and definitely grown-up — just like epic itself.

Flat breads $2-$8, appetizers $7-$8, salads $6, entrees $13-$21, desserts $6.


Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News.


E-mail: skratz@desnews.com