What’s up at Upland?
What’s up at Upland? A lot it seems. Those stepping into Upland NYC may be surprised by the relaxed vibes of a space that’s just off of bustling Park Avenue. Opened in October 2014 and designed by one of my favorites design duos, Roman and Williams, the California inspired brasserie has become a staple for the culinary and design-inclined crowds alike. I happen to love both so I had to write about this place as part of my ongoing New York City guide. Yes, that is in the works and I am very excited to launch that part of the site. But I digress. Let’s return to the talk of yummy food in an equally yummy environment.
The space is distinctly Californian, but not in the beachy surf-inspired way that many on the East Coast have come to expect. The restaurant takes its name from the inland town Upland, where head chef Justin Smilie was born. Upland rests in the California Badlands at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains.
To design the space Roman and Williams founders Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch drew from the rich agricultural tradition of the Badlands. The warm copper hardware and shelving takes cues from copper pots and pans and the deep greens of the light fixtures and leather booths bring the forested hills of the Badlands into the heart of New York City.
Roman and Williams dreamed up a space of warm copper, lush green leather, and natural white oak. Glass jars of pickled produce line floor to ceiling copper shelving and reflect the warm glow from custom designed light fixtures. Diners come to enjoy cacio e pepe, seared octopus, and leafy greens in surroundings that evoke the rolling hills of West Coast farm land. We celebrated my husband’s birthday here when it first opened, and it was a very memorable meal for all of us. The pizza? Divine. The atmosphere? Perfect. Trust me, if you haven’t been here yet, you should run here now. Or at least book yourself a table and tell them Interior Monologue sent you!