Had dinner at Epic at the Royal York last night with the in-laws. I had been greatly looking forward due to the posted Winterlicious menu, but I have to say that I was a bit disappointed.
For starters, two of us had the lobster bisque with enoki mushrooms,which was delightful. Slightly over-salted, but smooth as velvet, and the combination of rich lobster and cream were offset nicely by the light but earthy quality of the mushrooms. The other two had the mixed green salad with maple-glazed butternut squash, dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds in an apple cider walnut dressing, which was very nice, but unexceptional. For a salad that didn't even mention lettuce in its description, there wasn't much else there. The dressing was lovely in flavour, but could have used some toning down of the acidity.
Mains - 3 of us had the lychee carmelized duck breasts, which were tiny. Though I requested mine medium, (I know, I know. But that's how I like it.)it arrived medium rare like the other two. Rather than complain and risk being reprimanded (again) by the waiter, I decided to suck it up and eat it anyway. The breast was very chewy, and its flavour was completely oblitterated by the overly-vinegarred red cabbage that accompanied it. The tiny saffron poached pear was a nice touch, but didn't really add anything to the dish other than an interesting plate decoration.
Our fourth had the braised lamb shank, which was fall off the bone tender, but rather bland. A tiny portion of horseradish potato mash left a nice buzz on the tongue, and soaked up the rosemary jus nicely.
Overall, however, we were not thrilled with the mains, and found the portions (even for Winterlicious) very small. From the menu descriptions, the dishes sounded complete and well-rounded, but the execution left us hungry for more.
Desserts - three opted for the praline creme brulee, which tasted like like peanut butter mousse. I had the anise chocolate and pear mousse with pink peppercorn compote and cinnamon ice cream. The ice cream was perfect, with just enough cinnamon to add an interesting dash of spice to what would otherwise have been a top-notch vanilla. The anise "scent" was barely discernable, but the pear and chocolate mousse didn't suffer for it. Perfectly light and chilled, it was the best part of the meal.
Would I recommend Epic? Perhaps. There was nothing particularly wrong with the dishes, but with the exception of the bisque, there was nothing particularly great about them either. I did note other tables with items from the regular menu seemed to have larger portions, and the aromas were much more enticing. I'm not sure if this is just a case of the Winterlicious menu not living up to the regular offerings, or if what we ate was an accurate representation of the quality and quantity of food on offer, but if I were to go back to Epic, I would certainly not go with a completely empty belly.