Welcome to EPOCH Bar & Kitchen Terrace, where the old is transformed into the new, the present is highlighted and the future is exciting.
Set on the lobby level of The Ritz Carlton and taking over for DEQ Terrace & Lounge, EPOCH Bar & Kitchen is the new gem of The Ritz Carlton family. Almost tucked away like a secret, existing in the beating heart of the Financial and Entertainment District, is an oasis for the senses.
The concept is simple. Led by chef Jeff Crump of Chez Panisse and Fat Duck fame, the menu is centred around high-end elevated British gastropub fare that is eco-conscious and earth to table forward. Every dish is created with intention; every cocktail is built upon imagination. Seasonality drives the menu, highlighting local produce at every opportunity.
EPOCH opened this past September to much excitement. "EPOCH was under renovations and pause for two years due to COVID and it was highly anticipated to open," says Mimi Auyeung, public relations and marketing manager for The Ritz-Carlton.
Designed by Allen Chen and DesignAgency, an award-winning design agency with a global reputation for creating exceptional environments that patrons can experience fully, he believes that "EPOCH is a venue for the ages." Built to encapsulate the romance of travel and the essence of glamour, you get a sense of luxury the second you step foot inside.
"We wanted something modern but also classic within The Ritz Carlton, so EPOCH is an independent restaurant even though it's ran by [The Ritz Carlton]," says Auyeung. "We want it to be a standalone restaurant and destination. It's a nice balance between the two where you have the service provided by the ladies and gentlemen from The Ritz Carlton, but you also have a place that's very warm, welcoming, and comfortable."
With the goal to create memories and build your own story, the layout is designed to set the stage for all patrons, beginning with the dining room.
Intimacy defines the EPOCH Dining Room. The wine selection is expansive, curated by the resident master sommelier with international and Canadian wine offerings. You won't find your standard wine bottles here, as each offered bottle is done with care and reason. Relax, and take in the stylish ambiance.
The bar takes centre stage. A breathtaking beacon located in the middle of the restaurant, there's an allure of time that flows across every cocktail made, and across every visitor that takes a seat. Canadian artists Caitlin Cronenberg and Heidi Conrod collaborated on artwork that is highlighted throughout EPOCH. You can rediscover classics, celebrate today and experience tomorrow right at the bar.
The green room is for play. You feel cozy as you enter the space, defined by the warm fireplace and pool table. Shades of Hollywood scroll across your memories as the decor honours the Entertainment District.
The terrace is where the transition from indoor elegance to outdoor oasis occurs. The conversion is seamless, with warm fireplaces and ample seating to host guests for all seasons. Framed by the canopied bar is British artist Anish Kapoor's mountain sculpture, making its home in the middle of Simcoe Park. The CN Tower pokes out from behind, acting as a reminder that the memories created here take place in the heart of Toronto.
Timelessness is the overarching theme when taking in the cocktail menu, built by the bar manager at EPOCH, Jason Griffin. As you begin reading, you're reminded of cocktails that are reminiscent of the past but brought back to life as something new. These drinks define Chapter 1.
Chapter 1 is retrospective. Classics are brought back to the forefront but reimagined; updated for today's diners. The Blue Lagoon is brought back as Mermaid Lagoon. Patience Young Grasshopper takes its inspiration from The Grasshopper, made modern by adding lactose to clarify the cocktail. No cream is needed, but it's just as creamy as you remembered, with Mint Verbena infused Tanqueray Dry Gin, Fernet Branca, Crème de Cacao and absinthe.
"The Lychee Queen, a modern take on the lychee martini, has beautiful little lychee caviar, which is very popular. It's a refined taste, not very harsh," says Auyeung, closing the page on Chapter 1.
Chapter 2 is contemporary. These are the modern cocktails, and health and sustainability are highlighted in each drink. People care about their health and the environment more and more, and Chapter 2 highlights what's important today. "Jason has brought in a more sustainable way. He uses a citrus stock. So instead of going through a box of citrus a day, we go through a box every ten days. It's a great sustainable piece, and a lot of our cocktails use elements from the kitchen," elaborates Auyeung.
Moment of Zen offers precisely that in a drink. Seedlip Garden 108 is mixed with Matcha Tea, Citrus Stock and Aquafaba to bring a smooth, clean green taste.
Chapter 3 is prospective. Always with an eye to the future, Jason Griffin has built this chapter to showcase cocktails made with modern techniques that take inspiration from the new and exciting. Prebatched cocktails have taken off more recently in the US and UK. With iconic bars and restaurants having their own signature offering, EPOCH decided to follow suit with a keg version of Picadilly Punch. Pre-batched and carbonated, the classic punch cocktail is brought forward to the modern age and ready to drink.
Business as Usual is the standout cocktail. Think Bloody Mary's much cooler, tatted-up cousin. Mezcal Amores Verde is infused with basil, mixed with Strega, clarified cucumber and tomato and ghost pepper. Clarified and served with pickled cherry tomatoes, this drink epitomizes Chapter 3.
Chef Jeff Crump is one of the pioneers of the earth to table movement in Canada. Cutting his teeth at Chez Panisse, Alice Waters' acclaimed California restaurant that defined the farm-to-table movement, he brought his learnings to Canada that centered around sustainability and seasonality. Supporting local is just as important, as local means fresher, tastier and less travel time.
Auyeung said that chef Crump was a big part of bringing the movement here. "Everything is sourced, but not from one farmer because of the volume. The seafood is sourced from the east and west coast, but the majority of the produce that we use is based in Ontario, especially for vegetables. He wants to know what the farmers are doing and why they're doing it."
Chef crump also spent time at Fat Duck in the UK, Heston Blumenthal's award-winning modern British cuisine restaurant. EPOCH defines its food as elevated British gastro bar comfort food, and that comes across loud and clear as you peruse through the menu.
British food staples begin the menu, showcasing chef Crump's vision of highlighting British cuisine right from the beginning. The Billionaire Sheppard's Pie is the standout dish in this section, drawing a direct link to families across Britain sharing their classical rendition with their families.
The dish begins with a creamy blanket of potato purée mixed with egg yolk and Parmesan to give an unctuous mouthful that sets the tone for the meal. Peek under the covers to find minced wagyu beef cooked into a fine gravy. Truffles live in every bite, reminding the diner that at EPOCH, you are a billionaire right from the beginning.
Devils on Horseback -- with British origins dating back to the 19th century - are red wine marinated prunes stuffed with -- espelette and wrapped in bacon.
Emblematic of British cuisine, no gastropub is complete without a proper Fish & Chips. Fresh haddock is surrounded by crispy skinny fries. The watercress finishes the dish with tartar sauce and malt vinegar on the side.
Sustainability and freshness ring through with each salad option. Pictured is the Heirloom Beet Salad, one of chef Crump's most requested dishes over the decade. A dish first experienced with the eyes, each ingredient shines brightly with its colour. The contrasting textures and flavours come next, with the earthy beets pairing with the creamy ricotta and fresh tomatoes and the sharp watercress with crunchy pumpkin seeds for an experience highlighted by its ingredients.
The salads may stay the same in name, but the ingredients will change depending on availability and seasonality.
Both Indian and Chinese cuisine are featured heavily in British dining, and that is no different at EPOCH. The mains section begins with Vadouvan Curry Cauliflower. A dish with vadouvan spices, yogurt, curry granola, cauliflower puree and chilies wake up the senses and offer a reminder that British cuisine draws upon many other cultures and not simply it's own.
The Foccacia Deluxe is exactly as it sounds. Deluxe in nature and comes in three options -- Rosemary Bianca, Apple Bacon, and Green Goddess -- each focaccia is baked in a stone oven at the back of the restaurant. Perfect for sharing, the crust is the highlight as there's no better way to achieve a crunchy, evenly baked bottom than in a stone oven.
Sourced from the east coast, the Roasted 1/2 Lobster is the star of the By Sea section. Very simple in concept, the only ingredients are lobster, spinach and tarragon butter. The intention is for the ingredients to sing loudly, showcased for their seasonality and freshness. The lobster is creamy and buttery and roasted, with shades of tarragon echoing in the back with every bite. The presentation itself is breathtaking, as the lobster is presented back in its shell, highlighting its natural beauty.
The Yellowtail Fish Collar is a fan favourite as well. The yellowtail collar is presented with meat falling off the collar bone, similar to meat falling off a rib.
The Indian and Chinese influence is brought to the forefront in the Smoke, Fire & Forno section of the menu. Meat is the muse, as the Curry Lamb Shank, pictured, is an ode to India's impact. A lamb shank cooked with curry spices lays on top of spiced eggplant, spinach, yogurt raita, lime and basmati rice.
The Szechuan Pepper Steak is the ode to Chinese food's impact on the British culinary scene. The 8oz flat iron steak is served over padron pepper and your choice of skinny fries or salad.
Each experience has a finish, and every memory has an ending. EPOCH leaves you with something to remember, the desert section that has an option for every taste.
The profiteroles are whimsical in look and nature. They come presented almost like an art piece, each profiterole filled with intention, each drizzle adding playfulness. Cream puffs are stuffed with milk chocolate ice cream, caramel and chocolate sauce. The bites differ in taste but are similar in experience.
The Pineapple Upsidedown Cake is absolutely the showstopper. The cake itself has a rich British history, acting as the dessert of choice for countless British families hosting their own celebrations. Poached pineapple and vanilla ice cream are nestled on top of a warm buttermilk almond cake. With each drizzle of caramel, over top each ingredient, the essence of luxury grows.
EPOCH Bar & Kitchen Terrace accomplish exactly what they set out to do. Making its home on the first floor of The Ritz Carlton, they are the premier restaurant in the hotel, highlighting elevated British gastropub food to the patrons of Toronto.