Upland: Nirvana from California
Hi Everyone! Today, we're eating at Upland, a California-inspired restaurant in Flatiron. And, just to give you a heads up, this is one of our new favorites as you will soon see. It's owned by Justin Smillie, former chef at Il Buco Alimentari (another tasty restaurant!). I know what you're thinking... What is Californian cuisine?! Well, it's kind of like what you imagine when you think of California. It's bright, floral, warm while full of diverse cultures, ingredients, and cooking styles. Basically, it kind of looks like fusion cuisine with a robust consideration to the presentation of the dish.
Address: 345 Park Ave. New York, NY 10010
Crispy Duck Wings with Lemon, Olive oil, and yuzukosho at Upland
Potato Bread and Butter with Chives, Black Pepper, Lemon Zest, and Salt at Upland
Smoked Amish Chicken with Roasted Corn, Mimolette, Quicos, and Tajin seasoning at Upland
Blistered Shishito Peppers and Bottarga at Upland in New York City
Hamachi Crudo with Sunflower, Sesame, Hemp, and Radish at Upland
Roasted Branzino For Two with Fennel Leek Vinaigrette and Meyer Lemon at Upland in New York City
Brussels Sprouts with Calabrian Chili, Red Onion, and Meyer Lemon at Upland in New York City
Spaghetti with Maine Lobster, Roasted Tomato, Chili, and Basil at Upland in New York City
Bucatini Cacio e Pepe with Pecorino Romano, and Black Pepper at Upland
Anyways, let's begin. Our meal started with a complimentary Potato bread with Chives, Black Pepper, Lemon Zest, and Salt. It was glorious. Steph and I weren't even that hungry but we devoured this bread. It was probably the best bread I've had in a while with the exception of the bread at the Back Room (at One57). It was warm, soft, and fluffy like my bed. And, I love my bed.
We started with the Hamachi Crudo. The crudo was awesomely fresh with the combined aromas of Sunflower, Sesame, Hemp, and Radish. The "dressing" was something like olive oil and lime, which was sublime.
Next... These Crispy Duck Wings (see first picture of the post) are my favorite though. If you can only eat one thing at Upland, I would recommend ordering this dish. These wings make me want to master the art of making wings so that I can eat wings every day. They were so delicious that Steph and I just sat there eating in silence as we savored this medley of gamy and citrusy flavors. Duck meat is very tough given how much the animals actually use their wings.
To our surprise, Upland's Duck Wings practically fell off the bone. Don't even get me started on how perfectly crisp the skin was. Steph and I also strongly appreciated the fact that one of the main ingredients was yuzukosho, a Japanese paste made of yuzu (a small Japanese citrus), salt, and chili peppers. This is my most preferred condiment for grilled or fried meats. It's tangy with a nice spicy kick to the face. I couldn't stop covering my duck with the leftover sauce on the plate. Order this!!!
For our main courses, we got the Bucatini Cacio e Pepe with Pecorino Romano and Black Pepper along with the Smoked Amish Chicken with Roasted Corn, Mimolette, Quicos, and Tajin Seasoning. The Bucatini was delightful. It was similar to Barbuto's but a little more cheesy and a little less peppery. The pasta was cooked al dente, just the way I like it. Would recommend as a solid staple/filler dish but not totally a roller-coaster ride of flavors.
The Smoked Amish Chicken, on the other hand, was extremely juicy, tender, and full of flavor. And, it's a perfect example of what has been defined as "Californian cuisine", given its ingredients from different countries. The mimolette is an interesting French cheese. It's orange on the inside but has a cratered, gray crust on the outside. Imagine a cantaloupe... that tastes kind of like Parmesan. This delicious cheese had some FDA issues a few years ago due to special stimulants called cheese mites. The cheese mites inhabit the crust of the cheese and help add to the cheese's flavor. The main difference is that Parmesan is from Italy while Mimolette is from France.
The quicos are Spanish snacks. They are made of corn kernels that are soaked in water then toasted until crunchy. Lastly, the tajin seasoning is a powdery Mexican condiment. It's actually kind of similar to yuzukosho but it's powder and less intense. It's typically made of chili peppers, salt, and lime. We loved it. The corn, mimolette, and tajin powder tasted like a deconstructed grilled Mexican corn.
Go try Upland. Immediately!