Upper West is located on the far side of Santa Monica at 3321 Pico Boulevard. The place was packed on a recent Thursday night. The large eatary is divided into a dining areas and bar. A wall of glass sections off a small room which can be reserved for private parties. It features a 20 foot screen that plays classics (sound is off). Think Bogart and Bacall or Citizen Kane on a rainy night. The choice of films is currently Noir, influenced by the NoirFest Santa Monica which recently had their opening night party at Upper West back in January.
The dinner we received was stupendous. Transplanted Texan, executive chef Nick Shipp, composes an artful menu of California fusion taken to a high art. We started our meal with an appetizer plate of “Carlsbad Muscles / garlic saffron broth / chaba croutons / cilantro” and a wild arugula salad. The saffron broth, the muscles were cooked in was brilliant. We sopped up every drop with bread. The salad featured “point reyes blue cheese dressing / smoked bacon / dried cherries (the menu reads well too). For our entrées we shared a “Pan Roasted Barrammundi, aji amarillo spice / fennel -potato hash / chorizo / pasilla peperonata / lobster butter / mint / harissa” and a “Petite Filet Minoin.” I didn’t get much of the steak! I asked to try a spoon full of the (gluten free) mac & cheese, asiago / goat cheese / irish white cheddar / mozzarella / tarragon / tasso ham / parmesan to get a sense of adventure the rest of the menu offers.
Image from left to right, Clay Cummings (waiter) and Elad Benisti (co-owner).
The waiting staff is very professional (or perhaps they just like their jobs) and work to make everyone feel welcome allowing each guest to have a special experience. Wine is half price on Tuesday. I understand they have a fabulous happy hour…I can only imagine. The bar features their own take on “specialty drinks.”
For more information about Upper West Restaurant, see their website at http://www.theupperwest.com/.