After months of anticipation, the Epoch Restaurant and Bar, inside the Exeter Inn, is finally set to open a week from today on June 26.
I just went for a little preview tour of the place, still in the midst of construction/renovations. But you can really see how it's coming together. The little living room/lobby area that used to be directly to the left by the reception area is now the giant bar. The bar overlooks the dining room and you can walk down on, get this, red stairs that will be lit up from underneath. Sounds cool, but I can just see myself tripping and making a grand entrance as I look down at the red walk..
The people there are a wee bit excited to open to say the least. Chef Stephen Harding, who most recently worked at the Wentworth by the Sea, had this to say "We just want to get cooking."
Here's some additional info from their very enthusiastic sales manager Tom O'Gorman, who by the way likes to joke "We're the only bar in Exeter that's above ground."
(Well, aside from Margarita's. But The Tavern, 11 Water Street, and Pimentos, are all underground bars).
Harding plans to combine an outstanding selection of wines, his sophisticated preparation of local produce, game and seafood, and a fresh, intimate Ralph Lauren-type décor (warm, hues of red, patterned wood floors, a view overlooking the courtyard at the Exeter Inn) to produce a new era in Seacoast dining. At the center of it all is a cozy bar, framed by the bins and cubes of a large enclosed wine cabinet (Epoch will feature more than 100 wines, many available by the glass), and set into what was once the lobby of the Inn. The bar at the Epoch is a perfect spot to gather with friends, savor a Cosmo or a fresh Mojito, taste new wines …..and savor the cuisine.
"Epoch will offer our guests the ambiance and culinary sophistication of a New York restaurant at reasonable New Hampshire prices," said Harding. "Our menus will often change daily, to allow our kitchen team to create from the freshest ingredients obtained directly from local fishermen and growers. Signature items like Corn Encrusted Lobster-Crab Cakes, Fennel Seared Chilean Sea Bass or our succulent Hoisin Grilled Nieman Farms Pork Chop should appeal to nearly any palate."
Growing up in central Connecticut, Harding quickly gravitated to the kitchen, moving into management positions in several of the area’s larger restaurants. Upon relocating to New Hampshire nine years ago, Harding joined the New England Center, where he eventually advanced to the position of Chef de Cuisine before returning to Connecticut as Executive Sous-Chef at the Westin Stamford. New Hampshire beckoned once again, however, and Harding joined Ocean properties initially at Wentworth by the Sea, and eventually as Executive Chef at Ocean’s Sunset Key Resort in Florida, prior to joining Epoch.
"We are delighted to welcome a chef with Stephen’s energy, knowledge of the local area and passion for food," stated Exeter Inn General Manager Tom Petot. "Stephen brings a wealth of experience and is eager to establish Epoch among the most noteworthy restaurants on the Seacoast."