Given the success of both Grace & James and Poli, expectations for Upstairs are high. Owners Henry and Sophie, along with head chef Matt, clearly have exceptional taste, turning out neighbourhood businesses which subtly nod at London places for inspiration whilst still maintaining a sense of who they are within a little spot on York Rd. Those reference points for their wine bar and pizzeria are a little harder to place than the new spot found conveniently upstairs within Grace & James. It’s St Johns without the offal, with a dash of Quality Chop House and a squeeze of 40 Maltby Street.
The menu is short and concise. Brunchy things at the moment, with a roast on Sunday and evening menus coming soon. The signs are promising; a blistered rarebit where the molten mixture fully encapsulates the toast is about as good a rendition you’ll find. The likely iconic dish here is black pudding, fried duck egg, and a breeze block of bronzed potato, slices layered and cooked slowly in beef fat. It’s a big, rich plate of umami, brash and handsome.
The sweeter stuff is also very good. Sure the banana bread with stem ginger and cornflakes veers a little closely to Paris Hilton’s ‘sliving’ french toast, but it’s cleverly constructed and lifted by a little lime zest. We finish on Madeleines straight out of the oven; textbook, airy clouds of pure joy.
They’ve done it again. Another brilliant little restaurant that offers something different, something needed, to the city’s landscape. Barely a beat missed and with a few items that could go on to become Birmingham legends, Upstairs already seems destined to be a smash hit. Right now this is up there as the best brunch in Birmingham. Expect a similar reaction when the evening menu is launched.