Upper West (SaMo): too much of a good thing

Partner and I were looking for a late dinner nearby, so we decided to try this place (since we had driven by quite a few times, and I noticed that the crowd was quite large).

It’s good, but it could be great had it not been for the mis-mash of flavors that the chef or owner insists on shoving into each dish (we had). Argh.

Octopus carpaccio
(yuzu-sambal dressing/fennel/baby citrus greens/chimichurri/kalamata)

I don’t know if octopus works well as carpaccio. The individual slices were relatively small, but the all of them stuck together and so pulling off a moderate amount was difficult (and required both hands). I also feel like the slices could’ve been thinner. The taste of the octopus + dressing was great, but when combined w/ everything else (esp the fennel and greens), the taste of the octopus was totally lost. I don’t even remember the chimichurri (although partner does), and there were only a few bits of olive (which were unnecessary, anyway). I ended up eating the octopus on its own and the fennel + greens on their own… much better-tasting, IMHO.

![|375x500](upload://iTjxigTf19lJwo787G4l9kp6yjY.jpg) The Giselle (seared crab cake sandwich) (gulf coast blue crab "krabby patty"/thai style slaw/green apple tartar sauce/toasted ciabatta; side of fries and marinated cucumber and carrots) and Pan Roasted Seabass (grilled corn and lima bean succatash/grilled peach salsa verde/corn puree/lemon oil)

Again, there’s just TOO much stuff going on w/ these dishes. The crab cakes themselves were delicious, but the thai peanut slaw vaguely distracted from the flavor. I’m actually surprised (in re-reading the menu) that there was green apple tartar sauce since I don’t recall tasting ANY green apple or tartar sauce (which I was fine w/ since crab cake + peanut was enough for me).

Partner’s seabass was, IMHO, kind of a mess. The fish itself was cooked just fine, but the peach chunks were VERY big and had picked up the flavor of the fish (masking much of peach flavor… Eating a slippery, vaguely crunch chunk of something fish-tasting is… odd). I also don’t recall any lemon flavor in the dish.

You can see a peek of the Wild Mushroom (garlic, leeks, farro, and fig) dish between our mains. Menu didn’t mention that there’d be a ton of italian parsley on top. The mushrooms and farro were delicious, but I don’t recall any leeks, and there were only a few small pieces of (unnecessary) fig.

Chocolate tort, coffee ice cream, marshmallow fluff

The chocolate tort was fine, but not exceptional. The ice cream was DELICIOUS. The marshmallow fluff by itself didn’t have much flavor but gave an interesting (in a good way) mouthfeel when combined w/ the ice cream. The only thing, though, is that it was dusted w/ some really bitter cocoa powder that was (again) totally unnecessary.

Upper West has a lot going for it. The interior is sleek and modern, the atmosphere is convivial (they project a movie onto one of the walls), the service is very friendly (our server graciously gave us a 2nd glass of wine gratis). The quality of the ingredients is good, and the food is prepared (technically) well (large peach chunks aside). I just don’t understand why they feel the need to have SO MANY elements in one dish. Please, simplify. Having said that, we’d be happy to go back to try the other items…


My impression is that its a good place for 30-something’s to go for bar bites and drinks. It gets pretty crowded at night.

Good way of looking at it, I think. Although, if you don’t mind the noise level, it’s a good place for middle-aged folks to grab a snack, too (there were actually a few there yesterday night). :wink: Perfectly respectable neighborhood joint that I think it trying to shoot for something more.

They have a great happy hour, really good. http://www.theupperwest.com/Mobile2/menu.html