A longtime restaurateur and the city’s only waterfront steakhouse are
Like most sisters, Waterbar and EPIC Steak share a remarkable resemblance: Both are popular, sophisticated and enjoy a good time. Yet each have carved out their own personalities. While Waterbar (waterbarsf.com) gravitates toward the sea and is sleek, modern and flashy, EPIC is clearly focused on land and has a more subdued elegance about her. Behind both restaurants, which opened side by side in 2008 along The Embarcadero, are designer, co-owner and celebrated restaurateur Pat Kuleto; executive chef and operating partner Parke Ulrich; and managing partner and a longtime San Francisco restaurateur himself, Pete Sittnick.
Behind EPIC Steak are the celebrated Pat Kuleto, Parke Ulrich and Pete Sittnick (above)
On New Year’s Eve, we decided to spend time at EPIC. The richly decorated main dining room offers stunning views of the Bay Bridge, the city skyline and the bay. An open-fire kitchen, grand fireplace and its upstairs bar and lounge all contribute to its chic atmosphere. On this special night, staff were dressed in fine suits and sequins. But not Sittnick. He was in a Hawaiian shirt, greeting each guest and stopping by tables. On regular nights, dinner menu favorites include the Tuscan-style porterhouse steak (30 ounces, $94), prime côte de boeuf (28 ounces, $106), prime dry-aged New York steak (16 ounces, $66) and two wagyu beef offerings: wagyu tasting featuring three 2-ounce cuts ($180) and the Miyazaji wagyu steak ($98 to $180). If you’re one of the few who hasn’t come for steak, there are also seafood dishes, soups and salads—not to mention an impressive bar program.
We caught up with Sittnick and asked him a few questions about his 35 years of experience in the Bay Area restaurant business and what makes EPIC, well, so epic.
What has changed in the business since you opened? As we approach our 12-year anniversary, so much has changed. When we opened in 2008 and the country fell into recession, we knew tourists could easily cut us out of their budget—so we introduced $1 oysters at Waterbar and the 3 B’s (Burger/Beer/Brownie) at EPIC Steak for $20. Our proximity to the Giants stadium, and now Chase Center, has made us a favorite among locals and tourists. One of the biggest projects that the teams and I are proud supporters and fundraisers of is The Bay Lights on the Bay Bridge. To this day, watching the faces and smiles of our guests as they are mesmerized by The Bay Lights is still one of my nightly highlights.
Have people changed what they want out of a great steak? When people say they want something different in a steakhouse, they actually mean to say they want familiarity and comfort, but without giving up quality. Steakhouses are typically a little more expensive based on the cost of beef, so the expectation as it relates to quality is going to be high. We offer some great 21-day-dry-aged steaks from Bryan Flannery, wagyu tasting menus, and we just added a grass-fed ribeye from Tasmania.
Anything new coming up? We are currently updating the appeal and formatting of the menu at EPIC Steak. With so many choices to pick from, we want our guests to have an easy experience when it comes to deciding what they want to enjoy that night. I truly believe that when people choose to dine out, they should have a joyful experience—the memory is always enhanced when there is smiling involved—so we are adding fun elements to the updated menu.
369 The Embarcadero, 415.369.9955, epicsteak.com
Photography by: Courtesy of Epic Steak