Chef Justin Smillie was born and raised in San Bernardino County, and long dreamed of translating the ingredients, flavors and techniques of contemporary California cooking to a polished East Coast setting. After years of impressive success in the Big Apple, including a three-star review from The New York Times during his time at Il Buco Alimentari, Smillie hooked up with restaurateur Stephen Starr to open his dream restaurant.
Upland is named after Smillie's hometown in California, where he started cooking in his mom's kitchen, and features a seasonal menu of dishes ideal for sharing. Upland balances a familiar rusticity with a smart global approach and a New Yorker’s eye for detail.
Roman and Williams designed the spot with specific materials to capture the Californian spirit and aesthetic of Upland. Touches of natural oak, elegant leather, custom-blown glass and patinated copper implemented throughout the airy open space call to mind heritage and utility. A complement of stools of copper and black leather embrace the bar, while the firm’s custom light fixtures march down both sides of the high-ceilinged open dining room.