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Sepia (one month old)

June 2, 2009

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We went back to Sepia for my mom’s birthday (her birthday is May 1st and mine is May 31st). This was the second time for us, and it was good enough that I still felt I should post it… better late than never, right?

Just to recap, Sepia is in an old printing shop, and the restaurant reflects this “old + new” look: for example, there are old-fashioned chandeliers surrounded by glass and a wooden door with a brass knocker.orange 098 orange 097 

Drinks at Sepia are a must, since I would say that half of their customers sit down at the bar and order drinks and flatbreads.

I normally don’t order drinks, but it was a special occasion and they were boasting a house-made ginger lime spritzer. I love housemade soda because it really isn’t that sweet. Imagine fresh limeade crossbred with your favorite ginger beer.

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Of course, I would venture to say that their real cocktails are more spectacular… but whew, they are STRONG! One thing about Sepia is that their cocktails also rotate seasonally, but they always have an old-fashioned on the menu. In case you don’t know, an old-fashioned typically contains bourbon and simple syrup, so obviously there are many variations that can be done with it. When we came here in the  fall, the old-fashioned had chocolate and chili in it and was pretty trippy. Since it’s spring now, it was listed as “rosehip infused 1792 bourbon, fee’s rhubarb bitters, reagan’s orange bitters, creme de violette, muddled orange and brandied cherries”. With a description like that, of course I had to try it! Honestly, these are so alcoholic that the bourbon taste overpowered the other flavors, but my parents, more experienced drinkers, kept raving about the subtleties of the rhubarb.

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My parents ordered flatbreads to start with merguez sausage, smoked eggplant and mint. They looked much crispier and less puffy than I would have imagined, and apparently they were delicious.

On to appetizers:orange 103

My dad ordered seared sea scallops with sunchoke, serrano ham and marcona almonds. I came close to ordering this but they said that the ham was an essential component of the dish. However, as it turns out it had obviously been placed on top and not cooked with the scallops, so I got to take a bite of the creamiest, most perfectly seared scallops ever. And in case you can’t tell, these were some big scallops!orange 104

My mom, who can’t get enough eggs, ordered the crispy poached duck egg with morels, asparagus and ramps. My memory of this dish is pretty poor, I have to say, but she seemed to enjoy it.orange 106

Last time we came here my aunt ordered the charred baby octopus with toasted baguette and tomato sauce and it was some of the best octopus I’ve ever had. The ingredients are pretty simple: just parsley, octopus, tomato sauce, and olive oil (probably garlic too), grilled until crispy on top of baguette slices. I didn’t eat the baguette because I didn’t feel it was necessary, but I was licking up that sauce by the spoonful! This octopus definitely gives Greektown a run for their money… (and they should, considering how much more expensive this is than Greektown)

Main courses:

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My mom made a wise decision regarding portion sizes and decided to order two appetizers instead of a main. She ordered the English pea and mascarpone agnolotti with pea shoots and thyme butter sauce. These were actually pretty simple and not overly rich at all! However, I usually don’t order stuffed pasta dishes because I find a few bites is all I need. orange 109

My dad came close to ordering the Berkshire pork chop with arugula and apples, which he ordered last time and is big enough to feed an army, but he ended up trying something new (actually, not new at all because whenever we go out he usually orders either pork or short ribs): Braised beef short ribs with taro root puree, carrots and turnips.orange 107

Unfortunately, I didn’t like my dish at all! This was one of the only times where I actually took a few bites, decided I really didn’t want any, and packed it up to go. I thought because I had ordered the octopus for my appetizer that ordering fish for my main course would be a bit of a seafood overload. However, in ordering the “vegetarian option” I forgot that most vegetarian options have been put on the menu to accomodate people, not usually for the dish itself, and they are usually stuffed with butter, cheese and eggs. When I read the description for the Chickpea crepes with swiss chard, pine nuts, currants and tomato-harissa jam, it didn’t say anything about cheese anywhere. I imagined delicate crepes wrapped around sauteed greens, but instead I got what were virtually enchiladas in a kind of bechamel sauce. It’s not that these weren’t good, it’s just that they didn’t seem to match the quality of what we had ordered so far. They would be good reheated the next day, but in the meantime, I decided to save room for dessert.

Dessert…. was weird. Well, I enjoyed it, and it was light. Last time we had a sweet potato bread pudding, which was much heavier, so it just goes to show how seasonal this restaurant really is.

On the other hand, we did order two of the lighter options.orange 112

Citrus cake and ginger custard with carrot sorbet and apricot creme anglaise. The cake was a little dry, but the creamy custard and crunchy caramelized layer on top that was reminiscent of creme brulee made this dessert a great combination of textures. The carrot sorbet was a little weird with the rest of the dessert and didn’t quite go. My parents took one taste, said “eeehhhh,” and let me finish the rest. I loved the sorbet simply because all it tasted of was carrots, and just by tasting it, you knew that the only two ingredients were carrots and sugar. If they were trying to capture the essence of a perfectly juicy spring carrot in a single bite, they achieved it.orange 114

Cornmeal cookie with sweet goat cheese cream, blueberry compote and coconut sorbet. Conclusion: Sepia knows how to make a delicious sourbet. The cookie was not at all how I imagined it: I imagined a round, soft cookie topped with cream, but the sandwich we got was more of a shortbread. That didn’t make it bad. Once again, it was an interesting combination of flavors, but nothing that made you go “wow.” The desserts were definitely not the strongest part of the evening, but I appreciate the culinary concepts they were testing out.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. yoko permalink
    June 8, 2009 12:36 am

    MMMMMmmmm that octopus looks so good
    is the restaurant in printer’s row??

  2. June 10, 2009 9:42 pm

    delectable, delectable. I went to Orange too and I got the same french toast as you!! it was delicious.

    you should blog about that other restaurant you went to for your birthday I noticed on your Facebook…

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