epic: (ep-ic, adj.)
1. Surpassing the usual or ordinary, particularly in scope or size; 2. Heroic and impressive in quality.
Epic Burger, a new joint in the north part of the South Loop or in the south part of the Loop, is aptly named. The burgers are of grand size; with its free range and antibiotic free beef and chicken, locally baked buns, fresh-cut fries, and real fruit smoothies the quality surpasses the usual sandwich and fry fare; and founder David Friedman’s plans to expand not just nationally but internationally are definitely impressive.
Susan Carter of Marriott ExecuStay (no relation, but we think we have many people convinced we’re sisters) and I shared an Epic burger and a turkey burger, both with Wisconsin Horseradish Havarti. We also ordered fries and a Lemon Squeeze smoothie.
We had no plans to finish the burgers because their size was daunting, but before I could stop I practically licked the Epic sauce off my fingers. If David hadn’t sat down to talk with us I probably would have! (I asked him what was in the Epic sauce and he just smiled and admonished me that I knew he couldn’t tell me. I had to try.) The sandwiches were messy, but it had nothing to do with grease. With onions and crisp pickles and actual green lettuce – not iceberg – and tomato we had to eat over the table to keep from dripping. As we dug into the fries I told Susan they reminded me of In-N-Out’s, the burger chain in California. After we’d finished eating David told us that chain was one of his inspirations.
They have a limited menu, everything’s made to order, and a loyal fan base that will wait in line for the fresh-cut fries.
The smoothie consisted of fresh strawberries, fresh-squeezed lemonade, and fat free vanilla yogurt. Delicious. We also tried the South Beach, and you can’t go wrong with strawberry, orange juice (fresh, of course), and banana.
Despite the appropriateness of its current name it wasn’t the original choice. In it’s first incarnation David proposed Gigantic Organic, which would be a completely green concept. He quickly realized that wouldn’t work for two reasons. The name itself didn’t give off the proper connotation, and being entirely green would more likely put him in the red. The next option was Righteous Burger, a catchier and more appropriate name, which would be all-natural but not touted as entirely green. Unfortunately, after completely developing the branding, he found out that name was unavailable. He and his team poured over name after name and finally chose Epic because that’s what the sides at Righteous Burger would be called.
While not technically green, he does what he can to have a reduced environmental impact. The cups are made from compost and are recycled after you’re done with them. The napkins and forks and knives are all recycled and recyclable, and he uses low-wattage bulbs.
After David’s stint consulting to commercial food companies and seeing the conditions in the commercial meat industry he knew his restaurant would only use all-natural and drug free meat. I don’t know if it’s psychosomatic, but Susan and I agreed that even though we stuffed ourselves to the gills we didn’t have that sluggish, post big-lunch comatose I can’t even think about moving feeling.
It’s a good thing Epic will be expanding. Because of the lack of preservatives and the fresh ingredients, the food doesn’t travel well so there’s no delivery. He’s considering it in the future but only in about a four-block radius. You’ll recognize it when you see it: Epic will be delivered by a fast food superhero wearing a cape, mask and goggles weaving through the Loop on a Segway.
Now that’s Epic.
(On a side note, David started the Elbo Room up in Lakeview. He sold it years ago, but that’s one of my happy places so he’s instantly on my good side.)