FOOD, WINE & SPIRITS IN ST. LOUIS
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2011 / 6:05 PM
BY GEORGE MAHE
SOULARD SURPRISE: EPIC PIZZA AND SUBS OFFERS ONE OF ST. LOUIS’ BEST BURGERS
It’s a never ending quest, the search for the perfect burger. We all have a mental list to which we continuously add and delete. Today we have an add…and from a place one wouldn’t expect to find a good burger, or even a burger at all.
Epic Pizza and Subs opened last week on South Ninth Street in Soulard. A hallway connects it to its neighbor, the kitchenless iTap-Soulard, home to 500 beers–and often half that many patrons–which translates to one big, hungry, built-in pizza market. Epic is owned by Todd George, the former General Manager of Lumière Place, who, when faced with the prospect of being transferred out of town to another casino, chose St. Louis…and family life…over a bigger paycheck. Let us all pause a moment to salute the anti-Pujols. Besides that epic move, good things are going on at this Epic as well…
Place is about as wide as a standard shotgun house on the Hill and almost as nondescript, save for the mini garage door that, come spring, will fly open to allow sidewalk sales of subs and wood-fired pizza by the slice. Inside, customers sit on sturdy wooden chairs at heavy wooden tables, each one equipped with a butterfly leaf (just in case some friends drop by). Oversize wall prints all have a story (and we won’t play the spoiler). It’s all very homey, really: ends of wine crates are shingled onto one wall, napkin roll-ups whimsically contain plastic ware, and the paper plates are the fancy, “floral” variety.
On our visit, the Farmers Market House Salad contained mixed greens, shaved red onions, blue cheese, sliced Romas, yellow and red peppers, Craisins, and little teardrop-shaped figs (the same size as a pear tomato), dressed in a crisp lemon vinaigrette. And that’s the House Salad.
And then there’s that burger. (Burying the lede, you say? Nah, it’s called building suspense.) They call it the EPIC Burger (well, they almost have to). The potato bun, fluffy and almost sweet, was sourced in New York, and replicated here in St. Louis; the meat is a secret blend of all-natural, high-end cuts, courtesy of the good folks at Kenrick’s Meats; there’s tomato and lettuce, and cheddar cheese and grilled onions (some of it bottom-dressed to avoid “slippage”), and a smidgen of EPIC sauce (George’s wife’s recipe), a kitchen-sauce-type blend of about 10 ingredients (she wasn’t talking), that brings it all home. Order it medium-rare off Epic’s flat grill…then find a place for it on your burger list.