Epocha: Carlton’s Little Gem

Originally posted on The AU Review (March 23, 2016)

Sitting on the edge of Melbourne’s CBD, this stunning lower-Rathdowne terrace gives off an air of class, elegance and sophistication. Lined with polished dark wood, elegant crystal decanters, flickering candles, wicker chairs and imprinted silverware, this vintage setting may suggest old times, however Epocha exudes intimate, timeless class that is sure to stay.

Expect generous meals, a lot of small plates, and an extensive list of international wines. As someone who is not all too knowledgeable about wines as an accompaniment to food, Epocha is a life-saver with their recommendations. I however couldn’t pass the opportunity to try their mocktail Fruit Splendour ($8) , a pleasant fruity punch with many layers from sweet to peppery from the basil presented so delicately in the glass.

With rustic food that seems to be from the heart of Europe itself, it’s hard to pick the best options when you know your stomach cannot fit one of everything. However, the decision was made to try one of the Sharing Menu’s ($68/$80) , a specifically designed menu hand-picked by the chef, with the goal to show off the best season. All you have to do is choose your seafood for entrée and protein for mains– they do the rest.

Get seated and brace yourself for the culinary journey you’ll embark on, starting off with appetisers, we were presented with four different plates. A bowl of small and slightly sweet green peppers sprinkled with feta cheese, which is not for the feint of tongue. Despite their size, they pack a mean, yet addictive punch. Alongside of them is a bowl of mixed olives ($7) and a rustic plate of Crudités, house made quark ($9)beautifully seasoned and provide a freshness that’s a perfect accompaniment to our recent heatwave. The highlight of the course for me were the two golden pastry biscuits hinted with a delicate sweetness and a tantalizing crunch that sings to you, flawlessly topped with the saltiness of anchovies.

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For our entrée, we chose the prawn option – and what a dish! Poached prawns and English salad cream ($19) cosily cupped by ice-crisp cosberg paired with watercress. The four, perfectly cooked prawns were peeled with the tail left intact – versatile yet fresh. Keeping their original prawn taste was a relieving change, accompanied well with the silky yet zesty sauce. This piece of art had a twin sister, a flavoursome Char grilled zucchini salad, which was more of a theatrical piece as it hit the table – placed on velvety crème fraîche, cucumber slices, and sprinkled with well textured anchovy crumbs.

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If I’ve heard anything about this restaurant, it’s the lamb – oh god, the lamb. The word on the grapevine was that it was simply amazing, so there’s no question why I chose it. Tender, salty and drool-worthy. With a side of golden, crisp roast potatoes and a plate of garden salad, the slow roasted shoulder of lamb ($40) is worth every penny.

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Typically, if you order meals straight from the menu, dessert ($12) will be presented on a display trolley – a burden I was thankfully saved from – one of each, please! With a deeper trip to Europe, the giant lemon macaron and chocolate gateau will take you to the top of the Eiffel tower with its gracefulness, simplicity and sweetness.

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If you’re stumped for a new romantic date, an intimate dinner with a friend, family or colleague, or even feel like spoiling yourself in the slightest, Epocha should be on the top of your list.

Epocha
Address: 49 Rathdowne Street Carlton Victoria 3053
Contact: (03) 9036 4949
Opening Hours: Dinner: Tues-Sun 7pm-late; Lunch: Tues-Sun 12-3pm

Headline image supplied and credited to @smudge_eats

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