Finally, a restaurant we can all agree on.
And by “we” I mean quite literally everyone. Your friends, your mom, your mom’s friends, your friend’s mom, people in the banking industry, people in the media industry, people in the restaurant industry, even that person you work with who pretty much only eats at Hillstone. They all love Upland. And we do, too. So much so that today it receives one of the highest ratings on all of The Infatuation. Love is a beautiful thing.
There are a lot of factors that make Upland a special restaurant. The food, handled by former Il Buco Alimentari chef Justin Similie, is California-inspired, vegetable-driven, and absolutely incredible. The menu has so many superstar dishes on it that we’ve pretty much stopped giving people a list of things to order when they ask us what they should eat. The restaurant itself, designed by well-known firm Roman and Williams, is not only beautiful, but it’s also functional. There’s a lively bar area that’s Perfect For a quick drink and some food, and the tables in the dining room behind it are comfortable, spacious, and just quiet enough that you can actually carry on a conversation. The whole thing is done up in jade and copper, and is the kind of environment that makes you think to yourself, “Opulence, I has it.” But it’s also casual enough that you won’t feel like you have to hit Drybar before dinner, or whatever else you ladies do to your head these days before a big night out. The service is friendly and professional, the cocktails are good, and the wine list is extensive and loaded with great bottles in the $50 range. So yeah, they got pretty much everything right.
Then again, all of those qualities that I just rattled off are true of a lot of other restaurants that we love in New York City. And yet none of those have a rating north of 9.0. Why? Because it’s the ability to be so universally appealing that makes Upland unique. This isn’t a cool restaurant (even though it’s pretty cool), it isn’t a restaurant industry hang (even though you’ll see lots of those types eating here), and it’s not a stuffy place in the lobby of a hotel (even though that’s where most of our new restaurants are these days). It’s just a really great restaurant, with really great food, that you can be confident will please pretty much anyone you’re planning to have dinner with. Even that guy from the office who really loves Hillstone. You guys should spend some more time together anyway.
A caesar salad that doesn’t really look or taste all that much like a caesar salad, but you want it regardless. This thing has a whole bunch of colorful roughage, a whole lot of flavor, and is one of the better salads we’ve ever had. A must order.
Pizza is the new pasta, and that means every restaurant on earth serves at least one these days. Upland is no exception. We’ve found the pizzas here to be the only inconsistent thing on the menu. We weren’t crazy about the one with pear and stracciatella, but we absolutely loved the pie with ’nduja sausage. Results may vary.
A huge hen of the woods mushroom on a plate, sitting atop some Cloumage, a fresh farm cheese. This is a must order from the “Vegetables” section of the menu, assuming you are cool with a giant mushroom that sort of looks like an alien.
You could eat some carrots. You can certainly have some brussels sprouts. Or you could stop being so boring and order this celery root dish that comes with black truffle butter. I can’t say I’ve ever had anything that tastes like this (maybe a weird potato?), but I do know that I want to eat it again.
Another must order and another example of why Upland is such a good restaurant. Ever had puffed farro and black trumpet mushrooms in your steak tartare? Didn’t think so. Get ready to not want it any other way.
The menu tells me that something called yuzu kosho, a Japanese citrus and chili paste, is what makes these big, meaty duck wings so enjoyable to eat. But my brain tells me it’s the fact that I’m eating with my hands like a caveman in an upscale restaurant. Either way, these things are incredible.
Estrella is a big, star-shaped noodle, and here it sits in a bowl with chicken liver, sherry, rosemary, and sage. It’s about as savory thing as you could possibly eat, and it’s really good. It’s just not as good as the bucatini cacio e pepe.
Good lord. This is a cacio e pepe that will ruin you for all other cacio e pepes. It’s cheesy, it’s peppery, and it’s so silky smooth you’ll want to unhinge your jaw and shimmy the entire bowl down your throat. Get it.
An excellent option if you’re looking for some thing on the lighter side, though none of this menu is particularly heavy. Simple, clean, and delicious.
Somewhere under all of those peppers and persimmon lies a huge, delicious piece of pork that apparently comes from the neck region of the animal. It eats like the best pork chop you’ve ever had, further proving that every single part of a pig is absolutely delicious. If this isn’t on your table, you’ve made a huge mistake.