Dinner Upper West – Sept. 3, 2014

I went to their grand opening 4 years ago, but would never have thought that this charming restaurant would have evolved into a serious culinary competitor. From the Bols winning cucumber martini to their outstanding ravioli appetizer, this place will tickle your taste buds.

The interior is kind of Greenwich Village meets San Francisco Tavern, with the amazing art of Stephanie Tracktenberg adorning all of the walls. The outside patio has movies al fresco that rage from Sunset Blvd. to Star Wars. There is a huge window on the common kitchen wall that shows lots of mason jars with pantry like ingredients. One of the bartenders created the fun and upbeat playlist.

The real star here is the food!

Here’s what I tried:


Wild Mushroom Ravioli with Roasted garlic-veal veloute, micro basil, truffle and local goat cheese. This extra large ravioli is packed with great truffle flavors. There is a light sauce on top that is just so complex. I need to eat this dish once a week.

Ahi Tuna Crispy Tacos with plantain shell, rice cracker, citrus-chipotle vinaigrette, and jicama-cucumber salsa. This is a stand by dish that has not changed for the last 4 years. Its got a sweet tangy flavor, with nice little sesame seeds on the top.

Flatbread with house made fennel & lamb sausage, caramelized pears, redwood hill farms goat cheese, basil, mint and crushed chili. There are so many different things going on with this flatbread, but they are all great!


Blackened Salmon with Israeli couscous “risotto,” tomato, piquillo, sweet yellow corn, and guajillo sauce. This dish is very international with a little being Latin and some being Middle Eastern. Whatever the countries represented, it is marvelous.

Salad & Soup:

The Wedge with Baby iceberg, fresh peaches, bacon, triple cream blue cheese, and sweet corn-buttermilk dressing. What a novel idea – peaches on a wedge, but it works.

Roasted Corn Soup with black bean falafel & sumac oil. It is very sweet with great extra exotic nuances.


Summer pea & grilled peach curry with black rice & baby mint. It’s just like a matar paneer that you would order in an Indian restaurant and is equally as good.

Roasted sweet corn with avocado butter, cotija cheese & smoked paprika. The corn kind of reminds you of the corn on the Cobb with all of the fixings that you would find in a neighborhood cart.


Key Lime Pie, I have had lots of nice key lime pie lately. This pie was up there with the best!

Bread Pudding, this pudding is so lush. It had some really nice caramel flavors.

The Wines I tasted:

Viognier Blend – The Finder, Adelaida, Paso Robles, Californnia, 2012 grapefruit, winter melon with a lingering pineapple finish. This wine enhanced the sweetness of the puree corn soup.

Chardonnay – Primaterra, Delle Venezie, Italy, 2010 Pear & apple, medium bodied with a creamy finish. I would drink this one with the Ahi tacos; it is just the perfect balance with the buttery wine.

Sauvignon Blanc – Twomey Napa/Sonoma County California, 2013 crispy with perfect acid balance and a long finish of tropical fruit.

Chardonnay Gibbs, Napa Valley, California 2012 melon, honeysuckle and toast vanilla with buttery finish. I liked this one with the salmon entrée. It just hit all of the right notes.

Pinot Noir – Orogeny, Russian River Valley, California, 2012 red & blue fruit wrapped by rhubarb, cedar, earth, & pepper. I’m a sucker for a good Pinot and would try this one with the salmon as well, or it adds some strength to the ravioli dish.

Zinfandel – Wild Thing, C.Shelton, Mendocino County, California, 2011 vanilla-oak loveliness and creamy with a lush jammy finish. This wine went great with the sausage flat bread.

Petite Sirah/Zinfandel – The Imposter, California, 2012 jammy and layered with flavors of raspberry and toasty vanilla. I would pair this with the ravioli. The cherry flavors worked well with the mushrooms in the ravioli.

Malbec Gran Reserva – Alegoria, Mendoza, Argentina, 2009 plums, blackberries and figs with notes of cinnamon and cloves. I liked this with the side dish of peas. It is exotic and fruity and it works nicely with this dish.

Signature Cocktails

Picante Margarita – Tanteo Jalapeno Tequila, fresh Jalapeno’s, combined with out house sour mix for a twist on this cocktail. A little biting with it’s huge spice, but it hits the spot anyway.

Cucumber Martini – Finlandia Vodka or Bombay gin, cucumber & mint, cucumber garnish – award winning cocktail by Lucas Bols. You can totally see why this cocktail won such high honors. It is so smooth with a great blending, you really don’t taste the vodka.

Honey Rye with Old Overholt Rye, Barenjager honey liquer, orange bitters; serve on the rock with an orange peel garnish. For the Rye drinker this cocktail will be your best bet.

Ginger Cosmo with Vodka, Elixir G, limejuice & cranberry juice with a ginger candy garnish. This is another lovely drink with all these refreshing ingredients.

Chef Nick Shipp is eager to accommodate. He was raised in Forth Worth, Texas. The “Funkytown” native began his cooking career at the early age of 15 and later attended the Culinary Institute of Dallas. Moving west to SoCal, he became immersed in the Wolfgang Puck franchise. Shipp’s culinary peers have chosen him to be in the inaugural edition of the Best Chefs of America 2013. His regional cuisine at Upper West is creative and inspiring. Some menu items have been on since the beginning, and some others are a work in progress. Your taste buds will enjoy Chef Nicks Shipps blending and subtle nuances with every bite.

So when you add everything up that Upper West has to offer, it’s a great way to spend a nice evening, from tasting terrific cocktails with very sensible complex food choices to a nice wine menu. This location is technically Santa Monica, but it’s not all the way to the west so it can be convenient for West Siders.

Upper West

3321 Pico Blvd.

Santa Monica, CA 90405




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