Upper West on Pico Boulevard is the new “kid” on the block and a very welcomed addition to Santa Monica’s impressive list of excellent restaurants. With its 28-foot beamed ceilings and warm earth tones interior, this establishment, which opened in late February, has the look and feel of a trendy New York restaurant without the built-in “snob appeal.”
An interesting decorative touch is the 11-foot HD projector covering the entire wall of the 800 sq. ft. patio which, according to one of the owners, Elad Benisti, is a magnet as it can be seen as far away as the parking lot of Trader Joe’s and calls attention to the restaurant’s presence on a part of Pico that does not get a lot of foot traffic.
Benisti and his partner Eyal Raziel bring with them worldwide restaurant experience ranging from Tel Aviv to Australia to Miami to New York, all of which has contributed to the creation of the upscale, moderately priced, Upper West.
But, as we all know, the key to having a successful restaurant is what comes out of the kitchen and these two savvy partners made an, excellent choice in their Texas transplant Executive Chef Nick Shipp. This young chef has created a menu he refers to as “Global America.” “I cook with ingredients delivered fresh every day including organic produce, as well as free-range chicken, ocean-caught fish, and hormone-free beef, ground daily for some of my meat dishes.”
As is the case with many chefs, Shipp’s mom was an excellent cook and he uses some of her comfort food recipes as his point of departure, adding his own special twist to such familiar dishes as grilled cheese which is prepared on buttered sourdough with cheddar, goat and blue cheeses and caramelized onion, served with a tomato soup shot for $12, or the ever-popular classic meatloaf made from sliced house blend, black olive tomato sauce, mixed greens, smoked tomato vinaigrette & fontina cheese on a soft Cuban roll ($12)
Dinner began with appetizers – braised lamb crepes: port braised colorado leg of lamb, crunchy russet potato, madras curry crepes, garlic spinach, Israeli feta & lavender demi ($10) and a main course of braised short ribs – six hour braised short rib “osso bucco” style, cannellini puree and root vegetable pan gravy ($23) for the Mirror and for the other diner, ahi tuna crispy tacos – sushi grade ahi tuna loin, crispy plantain shell, rice crackers, sprouts, orange-chipotle vinaigrette & jicama-cucumber salsa ($12) followed by a seared sea bass – pan seared, chorizo mashed potatoes, mint-bartlett pear salsa & fennel lemon butter sauce ($23.) Presentation of all the dishes was quite attractive, with each prepared to delicious perfection.
This young chef commented, “I want people to leave feeling happy,” and if you top off our dinner with the key lime tart made with a graham cracker crust, blueberry syrup and basic-coconut sorbet ($7) or the cappuccino brownie consisting of horchata ice cream, rum braised apricots & sea salt ($7,) that’s exactly how you will feel.
Upper West, 3321 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica CA 90405
Monday-Sunday 5:00 p.m. to Midnight, Reservations: 310.586.1111
Happy Hour: Monday- Friday, 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.