Simply Delicious! Epican Tapas Lounge

Thursday, September 19, 2019

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Other words could have been used to describe the meal we had Saturday last. However, “delicious” is all Thursday Food kept repeating when we sampled an array of dishes at the recently opened Marketplace resto Epican Tapas Lounge.

The tapas lounge is a partnership between cannabis company Epican, and Damion Stewart and Kwasi Henry — the co-principals of Broken Plate. The décor was created by local interior stylist Sandra Bernard, who opted for cosy tropical beach-house vibes. In the kitchen, head chef Brian Sterling calls the shots, and that's where the magic happens.

The menu is comprised of sharing plates, small bites, entrées, desserts, and creative cocktails.

Don't be fooled by the “high” bread appetiser. The only thing high on the flatbread dish are the toppings which are piled high. To be very clear, the Epican Tapas Lounge menu is cannabis-free. Thursday Food opted for the chicken pesto version which had provolone, aged Swiss, roasted vegetables, grilled chicken and a generous drizzle of pesto oil. This is the sort of dish that's great to share with a couple of friends over drinks while you wait on the tardy members of your party to arrive. Hey, you snooze, you lose!

The oxtail nachos were incredibly rich, with no skimping on the toppings. This, too, is another dish that is best shared. The Scotch bonnet cheese sauce was a velvet dream, and there was just enough salsa to cut through the unctuousness of the dish to stave off cloyingness.

The chicken tacos were as delightful to photograph as they were to eat. You can't go wrong with hand-made tortillas, especially when they are deep-fried. Twice! There are chicken wings, then there's Epican Tapas Lounge's My Boy Lillipop. Chicken drummettes are painstakingly Frenched (all meat and tendons removed from exposed bone) before being fried and tossed in a moreish tamarind barbecue sauce. The dish comes with shredded pickled vegetables, and the acidic brightness perfectly complements the barbecue sauce's sweetness.

If you're a fan of mussels, then the Scotch bonnet mussels are a must-have. The bivalves are served swimming in a rosemary white wine broth redolent, but not overpowering, with Scotch bonnet. The broth was a tad salty, but that's what cocktails are made for. The bacon-wrapped shrimp was also delicious; there goes that word again! Its execution, along with the mussels, reflects head chef Sterling's adroitness at handling seafood.

The meal was rounded out with puddin' bites — a duo of bite-sized pone and bread pudding squares that are fried and served smothered in an allspice caramel sauce. The cornmeal and sweet potato pones were well-made (someone in the kitchen grew up with their granny), and the bread pudding held its own against the traditional pones. There was also Tia Maria whipped cream on the plate; no wonder that this dessert is regularly sold out!

As Kingston continues to forge ahead to claim its gastronomic centre status, the city needs more restaurants with chefs who are willing to take risks, experiment, and offer dishes that are delicious, au courant and, of course, Instagrammable. Epican Tapas Lounge ticks all the right boxes.


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