If restaurants were categorized solely by their looks, chef Justin Smillie and Stephen Starr's new spot Upland would be a shoo-in for Best Preppy Chic of the year. That's thanks to design by Roman and Williams—also responsible for Andrew Carmellini's looker Lafayette and the Top of the Standard—who did an excellent job translating Smillie's California origins for New York eyes, a task the chef has also taken on with city palates. With its health-minded and produce-oriented ethos, this "California" approach may seem like a bit of a departure from our deep fried paradise; that said, there's a lot of indulgence to be found here.
The jars of preserved lemons and artichokes lining the walls aren't solely for decoration; an appetizer of Crispy Artichokes ($13) gets dusted with preserved meyer lemon powder and some parsley. Meyer lemon shows up again in the House-Made Ricotta ($16) served with fresh anchovies and cucumber; the artichoke also complements a Spaghettini dish ($21) tossed with Jonah crab and fresno chili. Eggs are also big here, showing up with White Truffle ($33), chives and olive oil, plus a Bucatini alla Carbonara ($16) with pancetta, Clawhammer eggs, parmigiano and black pepper.
Earthier dishes include a Mushroom Salad ($17) stocked with three varieties of funghi in a burnt shallot vinaigrette and a Pappardelle ($18) topped with a spicy sausage ragu flecked with kale and ribbons of parmigiano cheese. Entrees—dubbed "Threes"—run the gamut from light (a roasted branzino or fish stew with gochujang) to super meaty, like the Roasted Lamb ($36) with confit carrots, dates, lettuce and a natural jus. Ballers can opt for the $68 Bon-In, Dry-Aged 20 Ounce NY Strip.
345 Park Avenue South at 26th Street, 212-686-1006; website