I always look forward to checking out a new brunch spot and after seeing the menu Up Restaurant was offering for a special Sunday brunch, I was all over it! Up Restaurant is located at 3995 Westhiemer Road and is accessible via an elevator (it is on the 3rd floor). I know I looked fairly strange and out of place when I walked up to the establishment expecting a traditional entrance. My attempt at "playing it off" didn't go over very well as I looked to my right and left hoping no one saw me go face first into a see through "door".
Hey, it was my first visit...I get a pass, right?
Upon arrival, I was glad we made reservations. This place was jam packed. I was glad to see the live band, which was one of the reasons I had booked a reservation here. The band was awesome, with the exception of one guy. I am usually not a stickler when it comes to these kind of things, but PLEASE do not mess up a Luther Vandross song! It's just like Whitney Houston; no one can sing her songs the way she can and that's why no one tries. Duh! Other than a few song selection hiccups, the band was rock solid and we thoroughly enjoyed them. However, I couldn't speak too soon...my next "moment" occurred as we were seated.
Anyone that knows me knows that I prefer booth seating. The look on my face with from smile to frown in a matter of 5 seconds. The C-shaped booth (clearly made for four people and the initial place setting reflected that) was facing another table. It was awkward (to say the least) and I know they felt the same way. In addition, we were forced to sit shoulder to shoulder which made having a conversation really strange. Side note: Sitting across from each other would have been similar to having brunch at a 30 foot table with royalty where a butler is used as the conversation method. I'm exaggerating but you get my drift. I felt like I was on an episode of "Punked". I know Ashton was there waiting on me to go ballistic; but I didn't. I even joked and said, "We might as well go and introduce ourselves and sit with them!". I have even constructed a model of the seating arrangement just so you could re-live this with me. On the positive side...the view was absolutely incredible and the decor is quite snazzy if I could say so myself!
Diagram 1: Uncomfortable Couple in Booth Facing Large Table of Equally Uncomfortable People
Once I was seated and ordered a cocktail, I was able to relax and really look forward to the meal. As we always say, "It's not just about the food, it's about the experience", so in this case, the food had to really win me over due to the mishaps I had suffered thus far. I am happy to report that Up Restaurant pulled me back out of my slightly annoyed mood. The brunch options were fabulous (all of my faves were available) and I was ready to get a sample of what Up Restaurant had in store. We started with the Classic Caesar Salad (with white anchovies and house made croutons) and the Asparagus Soup (topped with parmegiano reggiano, croutons and baby asparagus). If this was any indication of what was next, I was sold. The salad was fresh and not overdone with dressing and the soup was amazingly creamy given the ingredients and pureed asparagus.
For the main course, we ordered the Thrice Slow Cooked Beef Short Ribs (served with bordelaise sauce with parmesan yukon gold mashed potatoes) and the 14 oz. Airline Chicken Breast (stuffed with mascarpone cheese and topped with mushroom sauce and tuscan black truffles with French green beans). Short Ribs are one of those dishes that will make your day if prepared perfectly. I'll say this...even if the sun wasn't shining, a tornado was in route to my house, and my car broke down on 45 South during rush hour, the day would have still gone down in history! Up Restaurant gets an A on their entrees for both presentation and flavor. The chicken was just as impressive.
We ended our meal with the dessert offering: A duo of Layered Chocolate Cake and Chocolate Raspberry Cake. The chocolate cake was some of the best I've had in Houston. At the conclusion of our meal, I quickly pondered over our mantra (It's not just about the food, it's about the experience) and came to this...sometimes the food can be soooo delicious, it may balance out or outweigh a "not so good" experience. The customer service was stellar and I would definitely give Up Restaurant another try (with a different seating arrangement, of course). Up Restaurant has not received the highest points for their service but maybe they are turning over a new leaf? Who knows...maybe I went on a good day. Either way, give them a try and let us know what you think and bring me back some chocolate cake!
~ Shanna "Urban Girl" Jones, Urban Swank