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The Early Word on Epic Smokehouse's Upscale Barbecue

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Photo: Adele Chapin/

It's officially been one week since Epic Smokehouse opened in Pentagon City. And now that diners and locals have gotten a chance to experience executive chef Wayne Halleran and general manager Joon Yang's vision of down-home, smoked barbecue in an upscale steakhouse setting, it's time to check in to see if Epic Smokehouse lives up to its name. Here's a look at what the early diners are saying.

The Good News: One Yelper liked just about everything on the menu: "I mean, if you can start, continue and end a meal with a bacon dish, what's not to like?!? We've tried a good number of the dishes offered and so far haven't found a miss. Of course, there are favorites - the fried oysters are feather light and the buffalo and blue cheese accents are just right to kick it up. The namesake smokehouse items are a hit - a perfect subtle smokiness permeates each bite while the meats maintian a nice level of juiciness and the BBQ sauce elevates it even higher. Mac and cheese with pancetta? Yes please! Not in the mood for BBQ? No worries - the sea bass in miso broth with portobello mushrooms will do nicely." [Yelp]

The BBQ Expert News: Washington Post Food Section writer and BBQ specialist Jim Shahin paid Epic Smokehouse a visit and analyzed the menu: " What comes out of that kitchen is an essay on new barbecue interpretations. There is, for example, horseradish-crusted smoked prime rib. The beef is brined for 22 hours, rubbed with a horseradish-and-spice mixture and smoked over hickory wood for about four hours." [WaPo]

The Carnivore News: Blogger David Smelson of Pleasures of the Table recommended the prime rib: This is a treat you won't find anywhere else: (at least anywhere else I've been to) The smoked prime rib. There is an understated horseradish crusting, but the reason it's understated is because the smoke flavor is off the charts. This meat must spend a long time in the cool smoke to get it like that. I recommend it even if you're not a prime rib fan. [Pleasures of the Table]

The Bad News: This Yelper had major complaints about the food, but started off with an observation: " First of all, the owners did zero market research. There are already 3 other similar bbq joints within a 1 mile radius of this place (sadly, all of which are better). Kings St Blues, Harry's Smokehouse and Memphis BBQ. There is nothing original or fantastic about this place or the menu. Prices are too high for the quality of food being served." [Yelp]

The "Yay, It's Not a Chain" News: Another Yelper liked to see an independently-owned restaurant in the neighborhood: "This is a breath of fresh air from the chain restaurant heavy arlington area. We were greeted by a very friendly staff and enjoyed the unique decor. The mac n cheese was awesome!" [Yelp]

The Bland News: An Urbanspoon commenter was disappointed that his tastebuds weren't blown away: "My meal was served a bit cold and just didn't look like how a bbq dish should look. The taste was a bit bland and....boring. Nothing exploded my taste buds. It tasted like something a friend would cook in their backyard grill." [Urbanspoon]

The Meh News: This Yelper, who dared to order salad, wrote: "Nicer inside than I expected, but the food was just "meh". Had the "Bacon App", which was 4 chunks of half fat pork belly; nothing special. The Pulled Pork Salad was just OK. Yeah, that's what I get for ordering salad at a place for carnivores, but I had to sneak even that past the wife...No booze yet, so it was odd to see people sitting at the long bars drinking iced tea. Staff did seem to be in very good spirits, were attentive and the Suit Guy was all over things. I have high hopes for it in the future." [Yelp]

The Bacon Cupcake News: Brightest Young Things assistant editor Stephanie Breijo tweeted: "A candied bacon salted caramel chocolate cupcake? Yes, yes, YES. cc @epicsmokehouse" [Twitter]

The Good Neighbor News: Producer at WJLA-TV DC Robert Bennett, who lives in the Millennium apartments above the restaurant, quickly became mayor of Epic Smokehouse on Foursquare, and tweeted his approval: "@EpicSmokehouse review: a few first night kinks, but food and service was great. Your upstairs neighbor is pleased. Nice job" [Foursquare, Twitter]

—Adele Chapin

Epic Smokehouse

1330 South Fern Street, , VA 22202 (571) 319-4001 Visit Website

1330 S Fern St Arlington, VA 22202