Epicure Market is a tiny spot in a most unlikely location, where you’d never expect to find fine food and wine at a good price point. Executive Chef Julio Llop turns out some fabulous foods to pair with the huge selection of wine put together by Wine Curator Jerry Gray. They call it global cuisine but I call it really tasty as they use the finest quality meats and cheeses and locally sourced organic produce and proteins when possible. Chef, with the help of Gray makes everything from scratch in their kitchen. There are not many tables but a few chairs at the bar counter add to the options, however, reservations would be in order. The walls are lined with wines and other items for purchase, with lowered lighting and excellent service. It is a cozy atmosphere and it felt like I’d known Jerry forever, he’s that friendly, as was Kristine our terrific server. It did help that we went with another couple that live in the area and frequent the place, but the vibe is to make the guest feel indulged, especially about eating and drinking. If you are anywhere nearby or want to make a hill country trip, put this place on your agenda.
We were there the night before Thanksgiving and all ready to enjoy a wonderful meal without cooking. We worked our way through a lot of the menu and Kristine was good to just bring out a few dishes at a time. First was Corn bacon beignets with honey and cilantro on the side. The doughy ball with fun crispy extrusions held a balanced corn and bacon interior. Drizzled with a little honey they were delicious.
Rumaki dried dates were rolled in parmigiano reggiano and bacon and served alongside chimichurri. They were divine. The sweet dates were in lovely caramelized bacon that was the perfect counter. The chimichurri was really good but I hated to dilute their wonderful flavor or chewy texture in any way.
Spicy beef empanadas come two to an order and are served with chimichurri. The wonderful pastry exterior was filled with a well seasoned ground beef for hot nuggets of flavor. They looked much like the Mushroom empanadas with gruyere cheese alongside chimichurri, but the filling were completely different. The mushroom ones were filled with the essence of mushrooms inside the same flakey pastry. The guests were divided on which to prefer, so the best decision is to get both.
Brussel Sprouts with Szechuan sauce also had cashews, local honey, cilantro and sesame mixed with them. They were well caramelized and tender. The cashews were a fun twist to this growingly popular dish as was the spiciness of peppers. Scrumptious.
Mushroom risotto was topped with Parmigiano Reggiano. It came out nicely moist and full of flavor. This one didn’t last long on the table. So heavenly.
Roasted butternut squash was with mixed greens, quinoa, marinated feta, orange and balsamic dressing. Lots of textures here and all blended perfectly. The marinated feta was particularly nice as it complemented the tender squash. A good amount of dressing moistened the fresh leaves for a very good balance.
Pork terrine came with cornichons, whole grain mustard and crostini. A generous slab of the delicious terrine was nice all on its own but also good with the buttery, seasoned crostini and a bit of the grainy mustard. A perfect dish to mix with wine.
Oven Roasted carrots were mixed with chevre, spiced honey and rosemary walnuts. The baby carrots were perfectly caramelized which concentrated their flavor. Then mix them with the creamy cheese, sweetness of the honey, and the crunch of the walnuts and you have success in a bowl. These got heavily consumed before I got a photo. When food’s this good you can forget to photograph.
Pomme frites were our last savory but there were more things we wanted to try. These are usually served with the skirt steak but we ran out of room and they were going to be closed a few days for the holiday, so we talked Chef into making a couple order of the fries. They are fresh cut and fried to the perfect crisp exterior with potato filled inteior. There was ketchup and chimichurri for dipping but once again I didn’t want to dilute or distract from their fineness on their own. A perfect fry is a treat to find.
Pot de creme was made with Belgian chocolate and topped with raspberries. It was a good-sized crockery bowl that easily was enough for 2, filled with smooth rich custard. A beautiful chocolate high spread throughout your mouth with each spoonful. A fabulous way to end a really fabulous meal.