I took the BF out for a surprise birthday dinner last night to a nearby restaurant called Upstairs 2. It’s actually part of the Wine House which is downstairs. The place features tapas-sized plates of food as (obviously) a variety of wines.
They were offering a prix fixe menu that night and the items on the menu sounded good to me, so I chose that.
My appetizer was smoked blue marlin on top of some salad greens dressed with a pink peppercorn dressing. The smoked fish was good but didn’t taste any different than smoked salmon. The dressing was too salty, which overpowered the peppercorn taste to the point where I wouldn’t have known it was there if it were not on the menu. The salad dressing almost tasted like fish sauce, but I couldn’t tell if it was because of the fish on top or the excess salt. I would have preferred the dressing to be a bit more acidic to balance out the saltiness.
The BF had the eggplant, olive, and almond tapenade, which was great. The almond and eggplant made the tapenade taste richer than just regular olive tapenade. The only complaint I have about this dish was that the crostini were too hard and made it difficult to bite without having pieces of bread fall all over the place.
Next came my favorite dish of the night: capellini with morel mushrooms in a cream sauce. It was incredibly umami and rich. I could have had a whole bowl of this and have been happy. The capellini was a misnomer though, because the pasta was actually thicker than capellini (maybe it’s spaghettini?) and reminded me more of ramen noodles than capellini. Despite that flaw, the dish was still delicious.
Next came my dish of veal served on top of black lentils. The veal was tender and had a rich flavor without being too gamey, but the outside was too salty. Maybe the menu said it was salt-crusted, but I don’t remember. The salt also leaked onto the otherwise delicious black lentils.
The BF had the tofu and swiss chard ravioli, which I had a bite of. It was so good that if I hadn’t known it was tofu beforehand, I wouldn’t have guessed. There’s no soy flavor to it at all. The sauce could have been a bit less salty, but it had a nice spicy kick to it.
Lastly, I had the sauteed bay scallops on top of spaghetti squash with a bit of truffle honey butter. This was my second favorite dish of the night. The scallops were okay, but what really stood out was the spaghetti squash. It was my first time eating this type of squash, but this dish definitely made me a fan of it. It tasted like a non-fermented, rich-flavored sauerkraut.
My prix fixe dinner came with wine pairings for each of the three dishes (I ordered the scallop a la carte): two whites and one red. The first white wine I had with the salad was refreshing and not too fruity, but I thought it was too light to be paired with such a salty dish. I wasn’t a fan of the next white wine, which came with the pasta and morels; it had a sour taste to it and I would have preferred a red wine with a dish so rich. My last wine, a merlot tasted strange and thin to me.
Although I didn’t like any of my wines that much, I did enjoy the 2003 cabernet sauvignon that the BF ordered. I liked it after my first sip; later, when it opened it up, there was a nice spiciness to it that went well with my veal.
Overall, I was pleased with Upstairs 2. The decor is kind of old-fashioned and reminds me of a hotel lobby, but the restaurant is unpretentious, close to home, and has a huge variety of wine to select from. Our waiter was incredibly accommodating to the BF’s vegan requests and even took one dish off our bill because there was some confusion with how he ordered it and how it came. I would have preferred a lot of things to be less salty, but I was still pleased with my experience there.
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2311 Cotner Ave,
Los Angeles, CA