All My Little Words

Restaurant Review: Upstairs, 89b Acre Lane

Posted in Food by nickchristian on April 30, 2015

This piece was originally intended for a magazine that never ended up making it to the printers. It would have been published elsewhere but for the restaurant folding before that could happen. All very unfortunate, this is therefore the first time it’s seen the light of day.

Great game.

Great game.

If someone must dump you over dinner, there are worse restaurants in which they might do the deed than Upstairs, located above Opus Café on Acre Lane.

I was once, for example, rather brutally despatched in the Putney branch of Byron Burger. After announcing the end of the relationship before I’d chosen between courgette fries and coleslawthe girl in question proceeded to detail the myriad examples of my immaturity while I slurped an Oreo cookie milkshake through a straw. An attempted rebuttal, at that point, felt like the definition of futility.

Perhaps it was Upstairs upperend atmosphere that obliged a break-up of a more refined and dignified kind. Not that the restaurant is in any way “new Brixton” it opened five years before the Village or, God forbid, Clapham-esque, rather that the modest environment encourages a certain civility.

My companion, therefore, kindly waited until we were mid-way through the main course of wood pigeon and foie gras before she gently laid and politely triggered the bombshell.

It had all been going so well, at least in my head. The genuinely June evening had insisted we not skip cocktails: although my Roma Sparkle was just a decent Bellini her Helsinki Lifter was all you could want in a symphony of spirits.

With four simplystated starters and mains, the food menu read like the track listing of a Beatles albumwhether or not I ordered “the right thing”, I knew there’d be something to love and that it would deliver as promised.

I didn’t order “the right thing” to start. I had worried that the truffle panna cotta might be a bit gimmicky, and so it proved. Perfectly pleasant but I did feel like I’d been sold a kipper when I might actually have preferred kippers. Her scallop and pork belly fared better although the accompanying peas, apparently, “added nothing to the dish”.

The pigeon, however, was perfect. Even the unfortunate incident proved mere sideshow while ethics of animal welfare placed themselves on pause, as the goose’s gorgeous tortured liver melted into the mighty maroon of the other bird. Mini jacket potatoes and cherries soaked in something wonderful helped elevate the experience to, well, no hard feelings, eh?

At around £6o per head (including wine and service) Upstairs could only really be an occasional restaurant but you’ll have few complaints, even if that occasion is a break-up.

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