There are 1000's of restaurants in Melbourne and although they are all different, to some considerable extent most of them fit reasonably into categories which fairly closely define them and their cuisine. If you choose to go to a Chinese, an Indian, an Italian or what ever restaurant you have a good idea of what you will get. Of course there are plenty of exceptions, the room for invention and innovation is limitless.
Epocha is what might be called modern Australian. It does not really fall into any category.
Housed in a Victorian terrace house at the city end of Rathdown St., at the edge of the CBD it has a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
There is an upstairs bar and eating area as well as the downstairs eating area occupying a double room on the ground floor.
Tables are made from old parquet floor boards and have tiles in the centre.
The menu is on one side of an A2 sheet and I found it impossible to read in the dim light. A waiters iPhone torch solved the problem. It is divided into sections and is designed for sharing.
Snacks ($5-8), Small shares($14-28) Large shares ($24-38) and a Cote de Boeuf $64, Accompaniments ($6-9) and Dessert and Cheese ($12). They have a modest range of wines by the glass ($9-20) and a fair variety by the bottle. Sadly, and for no good reason that I can see, none come from Australia.
Black bread rolls are served warm wrapped in a towel, oil or butter are available.
We went through a fair bit of the menu. Small shares are not really all that small so it was a bit of a food overload.
Chicken liver pate, with a thin crisp toast, was smooth, creamy and seductive.
Quinoa and wild rice salad, pomegranate, yoghurt is the best way I can think of to serve quinoa, a grain that I have never taken to. Here the pomegranate and yoghurt lifted it to a new level, a second serve would have been fine.
Fig salad, goat curd, chard guanciale was another salad served at its prime. Everything about it was just right.
Lamb kalamaki, seared but not overcooked on the grill had only one problem, not enough.
There was an extra on the small serves, Beef cheek and tongue. The cheek was quite excellent, it must have been slow cooked for eve. Wonderful rich full flavour and falling apart texture. In contrast the tongue was just a bit ordinary.
Trevally, courgette, squash, tomato, requested barely cooked came completely over cooked despite the waiters assurance before it was tasted. It was promptly replaced.
Bird- breast thigh, leg and wing is just a fancy name for chicken.
The best of the mains was Pig - belly, jowl, neck . About three times as much belly as one usually gets, crisp but not tooth shattering crackling and fine taste.
Sides, Roast sweet potato puree, Roast potato duck fat, Green beans, almonds, mixed leaves, maple dressing and Broccolini, shaved garlic were all excellent
but by now dessert, off a dessert trolley
or cheese off a cheese trolley
were beyond our capacity.
There were a few hiccups with this meal which was, in most regards extremely interesting, well cooked, imaginative and structured so that it was easy to please everyone despite sharing and well worth a visit.