The Upstairs opens tomorrow tonight!

Escafé owner Mark Brown tell us that his new restaurant, The Upstairs, which occupies the old Al Dente space above Escafé, will make its official opening tomorrow night at 5:30pm. In just 50 days, Brown and company have transformed their upstairs space into a swanking bar/restaurant that'll be serving high-end steaks, fresh seafood, and liquor and wine. Indeed, Brown let us sniff a $2000 bottle of Hennessy cognac he has available in his climate controlled wine room ($300 a glass!).


No dessert and the apps were pretty bad I didn't stick around for the overpriced entre's. I heard the chef did a stage a WD-50 but I think he didn't learn anything.

Went in tonight, had one of the worst dishes I've had in a long, long time. Incredibly small portions for the price on top of being bland and poorly cooked. Step up your game, Upstairs

Saw a well-known local enter the place and then make the mistake of ordering a shot of "your best tequila." Oops, there went $100!

Can't believe the bourbons they have up there! wine cellar is awesome. Had the strip, and worth every penny. Like steak-flavored butter.

I couldn't believe they were serving something called "pork belly" as an appetizer at The Upstairs, so I had to try it. I could not believe how delicious it was! Didn't try anything else except a great glass of red wine...I'll be going back for dinner soon!

I'd like to thank my friends who showed up last night. We had a great night and high quality products. I found the negative posts a little bizarre. Every single person who came in for dinner was given a complimentary dessert along with a gearhart chocolate, so perhaps Paco should have come in before making something up. Hungry who posted a negative comment 1 minute later whom I'll assume is also Paco posted about the mystery "dish", we have a menu on the door so you could make up something specific next time. It is true we carry Don Julio Real which costs $75.00 not $100.00 and our well known local felt so violated he ordered a second round with dinner. All of our prices are cleary posted in the menu, their are no suprises. I'd like to thank everyone who came in and had a good time last night. We have high quality products across all price ranges and we hope that you will come see our quality for yourself.

Posts cognac and pork-belly? were 4 minutes apart, so by this logic, one would have to assume it is the same person. Right. The "mystery dish" was the scallops and they were indeed terrible. Overly breaded, incredibly small for $11, and completely devoid of any sort of salt or acidity. Like what was said earlier, step up your game. Charlottesville residents willing to spend the money won't stand for sub-par food.

Thank you for your post Hungry. Scallops are not breaded at all they are seared. You don't bread a seared product. A green tomato that comes on the plate is breaded. Learn the difference between a tomato and a scallop and post something intelligent if you came in at all.

Oh my mistake, I'm sorry for not spelling out what I thought was wrong with the dish your restaurant served. Here goes:

The fried green tomato was overly breaded to the point of inedibility.
The scallop was overcooked and tough-and there was 1 of them.
There was no salt on either item.
There was no acidity or any decent flavor to the dish.
The bacon was tasty, but that's because it's bacon. It's almost impossible to ruin.
The pile of micro-greens on the plate were completely over-the-top and did not add anything to the dish.

Do you need anything else cleared up? Let me know if this is not intelligent enough for you.

I find it interesting that you need to continue this. Obviously you posted two items that you made up at once and got called out on it. The dish does not come with one scallop. I have better things to do than sit around and make up stuff about other people and places.

The fact is that I was a patron last night in your restaurant as well and thought the food was overpriced and not very good. However, I had attributed this to the fact that the opening night in a restaurant is extremely stressful and it takes a couple of weeks for all of the kinks to be worked out. I have worked in many restaurants, and know the work that goes into preparing for a successful night. It is, unfortunately your rude and defensive responses, Mr. Brown, that have helped to alleviate this initial response.

By calling your clientele stupid, as I believe I saw in an earlier comment, you are not only making yourself look bad, but keeping people from wanting to support you. The restaurant industry is very much based on recommendations and word of mouth. Talk badly about your clients and they will talk badly about you.

You can sit there and write all you want about how people are making things up about your restaurant. You can even assume that it is the same person writing all of these different comments. The fact is that you should not take these comments as a personal insult, but rather helpful reactions. My food was under salted and over-priced. I know quite a bit about food. I also know when something tastes good and when it is sub-par. What I had last night was sub-par. Along with the food, the lighting was bright, the room was cold, there was no music playing. All of these elements make for a not very enjoyable meal.

Insult me if you wish. I have no plans on returning.

Good day.

Hello, I was shown the review of our opening last night and would just like to first say thank you all for coming out. I understand that it was not a perfect opening, and I am sorry that the back and forth arguements are occuring. I am the chef and in my defence I am waiting for authorization from the state to use about half of my equiptment. The menu was not intended to be cooked as it was. unfortunatly we had to open on our set date instead of waiting for the beurocracy and paperwork of the suits. As for the under salting of the food, well I have no response to that. The refinement of the food will come quick as will the training of my staff whom walked into the kitchen on the day we opened. I thank you all for your patronage and hope to not only feed but impress you as well as show you things that you will find new and innovative in our industry. I have worked hard to put this project in place and I would hate to get a bad name over a rushed open. I hope to change your minds very soon.
Thank you for your time.
Jaison Burke

Also Hungry I just want to clear some things up.
and I am not being a jerk here but you did smash me on the food.
a green tomato is full of acid. ( think about that )
micro greens are full of a natural flavor compacted into a small green similar to grapes cliped and condenced on the vine.
scallops should be salted light to allow the natural sweet flavor shine with a slight counter of salt.
if the portions were to small and it was too breaded and overcooked, sorry.
If you would like to come in and try the dish again I will comp it. The breading on the tomato changed today.
I enjoy critique, so at the least give me a fair shot in a week.


Congrats on your new place the food I had was awesome. 95% of all reviews are bogus whether good or bad. I think its great that someone from your restaurant called out hungry/paco for posting a bunch of b.s. they made up. If more places did the same the internet would be a better source of information. Its like who really has the time to make up stuff and 12:15am, some people need to get a life...

Actually I was there on the opening night I sat at the bar and did not recieve the "dessert" and Gerharts chocolate that I did see going to others in the dining room. I think it would be unproductive to just make stuff up. I had really looked forward to having a diffrent dinning experience and I was disappointed. So the folks at the upstairs can verify that I was there I sat as part of a three at the bar we drank one red breast irish whiskey and a gin and tonic. We ordered all the apps and you were out of the bone marrow. Thank you and good luck in the future.
and the soft opening defense is not good if your aren't ready to open and haven't trained your staff you probably should rethink opening. Just speaking from experience.

Mark and Pork belly I find it a little insulting to insiniuate that I wasn't there and that I would make up something to tear down a restaurant that sounds like it has great potential. I sincerly hope you can iron out any kinks and start serving some great food. Because I would enjoy having a great restaurant here in C-ville doing innovative cuisine.
Jai good luck in the future and I hope the health department isn't giving you a hard time over doing sous-vide because it would be good to see. When I talked to them about it a couple of years ago they had a real problem with the seals on the bags. Good luck again and I look forward to giving you a second chance when time permits.

I'd like to thank everyone for commenting on this post...its this kind of lively discussion we were hoping for when we started the blog. A few reminders calling really has no place here. If you have an opinion, even strong one, fine...but please back it up with some substance, make it constructive. For the most part, you've all done that. However, be warned that we will delete comments and ban folks if they can't keep it civil.

Dave McNair
The Hook

Jaison and Mark,
Jake and I had a great time last night. Thanks for the wine and for serving us after hours. The Foie Gras was phenomenal. Boo on the haters.

Serving food after hours, sorry about that.


I'd like to thank you personally for posting on the site...its great to hear from chefs about what they think and what they're up to. I hope you'll feel free to let me know how things are going at The Upstairs.

Dave McNair

Foie Gras¢Ã¢â??¬”French for fatty liver¢Ã¢â??¬”is the grossly enlarged liver of a duck or goose. Medically known as hepatic lipidosis, foie gras is a disease marketed as a delicacy. Birds raised for this gourmet cruelty are force-fed enormous quantities of food through a long metal pipe three times a day. This process of deliberate and painful overfeeding continues for up to a month, by which time the birds' livers have swelled up to twelve times their healthy size.

The process of forced feeding is so traumatic, and the con¯¬nement and conditions on foie gras farms so debilitating, that the pre-slaughter mortality rate for foie gras production is up to 20 times the average rate on other duck factory farms.¢Ã¢â??¬ 

During the course of our investigation, discovered corpses of ducks who had literally burst open through overfeeding. Investigators also found many birds who had choked to death on their own vomit. Necropsies performed by veterinarians on dead ducks taken from Hudson Valley Foie Gras determined that some of the birds had died of aspiration pneumonia¢Ã¢â??¬”a painful and often fatal condition caused when, during the process of forced-feeding, food is pushed into the lungs of the birds.

Thanks all of you, like the food or not. I am glad we could make this a productive forum instead of something ugly. I did receive a call from the health dept today they said that they have read the paperwork and now I need to set up a 4th meeting with them. I feel sous vide porkbellys and pheasant getting close. Also for my first scallop order I was sent product about half the size of what I intended to use, but now I have new ones that are great. I am also building the dish like a club sanwhich in layers. It looks alot better, and as for the salt we will have to see.

Cheers, I would love to see sous vide food in C'ville finally.

I know this argument is old but I can't help but chime in...
It just simply sounds like the chef didn't have his game on when the place opened...
and if your waiting for the state or department of health to give you the okay to cook sous vide you are a damn fool. great restaurants never even advertise or brag about the fact they use that technique, it's secret;.
were you actually asking the state if you could use the machines?????????
are you crazy... there is a reason it's illegal.

You have to get the states ok.
you are the damn fool.
if you are going to write please be informed on the topic.