Restaurant News & Reviews

First Bite Review: Food at Epping’s a step above with emphasis on housemade, cozy feel

Now that Eppings on Eastside is open, everybody wants to know if it’s good. The new restaurant from Cole Arimes has a a whole lot under one roof. There’s a bakery, a casual dining/bar area, a family-friendly section called Poppy & Olive, a fine-dining section and areas for private dining.

So let’s unpack it a bit in our First-Bite Review.

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The grilled cheese sandwich is grilled marinated halloumi cheese, with arugula, and roasted red pepper, kalamata, lemon aioli on thick buttery white bread. It’s served with a cup of tomato soup and housemade chips. Janet Patton

Housemade: Owner Arimes said chef Nathan Voorhees calls it “sandwich-centric” and that’s accurate but sells the menu short. It has several inventive takes on everyday sandwiches such as the Cubano, grilled cheese, pastrami rueben, banh mi and fried bologna, all priced between $10 and $14. But they are all a step above.

For instance, the grilled cheese is marinated halloumi that is grilled, served on thick buttery white bread with a roasted red pepper and lemon aioli, and it comes with a cup of tomato soup and house potato chips. There also is both a Farmer’s Joe’s beef burger and a vegetarian Impossible Burger. My companion got the Impossible Burger, which came with double patties and cheese on a housemade brioche bun, with a trio of housemade bread and butter pickles.

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Epping’s version of the Impossible Burger has two patties and two slices of cheese and comes on a housemade bun, with housemade bread and butter pickles. And housemade chips. Or you can order handcut fries. Janet Patton

The fried balogna isn’t just “fried baloney” but housemade smoked bologna. The pastrami and the banh mi also are made with housemade meats. And house bacon can be added to anything.

The rest of the menu: The menu also has interesting starters, including the butternut squash hummus, which was fresh and bright, not too sweet. Next time I’ll try the fried pickles or halloumi fries. There’s also mojo poutine and RJ’s Wings, all between $8 and $12. The hummus comes with dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, spicy chilis and cilantro on top and crispy spicy cracker-like lavash to scoop it up in. We practically licked the dish.

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The butternut squash hummus comes dressed with dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, fresh orange, fresno chili and herbs, with lavash bread to scoop it up. Janet Patton

The menu also has a range of salads, available in small or large sizes, and with or without protein add-ons. It only has two soups but they look strong: pozole, which is hominy, chile, radish, lime and cilantro and a tomato and garlic confit with a dash of pesto.

The mains are limited for lunch to salmon and tofu bibimbap but for dinner there’s also a panko fried pork chop, fish and chips made with Mirror Twin beer, seared hanger steak and chicken confit. The prices range from $17 to $28.

Sides include fries, mac & cheese, collard greens, mashed potatoes, sauteed green beans, cole slaw and house potato chips.

The bar includes a variety of premium bourbons, an extensive wine list and craft beer. Charles Bertram

Drinks: The bar has a selection of premium bourbons, with a drink list that has some interesting sounding cocktails, craft beers and lots of wines. The coffee is by Nate’s Coffee.

Dessert: Well, the menu doesn’t go there because you have to walk past the case of, yes house made, pastries on the way in. Items such as lemon tart and brownies, housemade Pop Tarts, cookies and ultra light and moist scones.

The main dining room at Epping’s on Eastside is dressy but not formal. Charles Bertram

Atmosphere: It’s cozy but not tight. The dining room is sophisticated but not too dressy. On the casual and family friendly side, you can come as you are without feeling like you’re crashing someone’s date night. Lots of comfy seating on both sides.

Where: It’s at 264 Walton Avenue, where National Provisions used to be but with a different front door. I predict it won’t be long until nobody even remembers what it used to look like.

When to go: Epping’s bakery opens at 8 a.m. seven days a week, and the restaurant is open for lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and opens for dinner at 5 p.m. nightly.

More info: Call 859-971-0240; or