Entertainment

Fine Dining reintroduced

The Upstairs Lounge & Bistro delivers quality fine dining, without putting much of a dent in your wallet
Photo Credit – Din M Shibly

According to Syed Ashiqur Rahman, Founder of Dhaka Foodies, there is always one restaurant opening at Banani road 11 in a week. With too many restaurants to choose from, most of them try to be as unique as possible, but not all of them get the approval stamp of cuisine connoisseurs. Unoriginal food, sluggish service, and disparaging ambience – the reasons keep going on. Thankfully, all that will be put to rest as Banani 11’s newest favourite, which happens to be The Upstairs Lounge and Bistro.

Décor and Ambience

Just as their tagline, they are here to redefine leisure both environment-wise and culinary-wise. Located at House 25, 11th floor, Road 11, Block H, Banani (11th floor, the same building that houses BFC, Café Hollywood, Nando’s, Kobe, Bellissimo and other food joints I may not be aware of). They are sure to pick up quite a fight, in terms of customer attainment, but once you enter the restaurant, you will be blown away by the décor. The sofa, the huge lamps above, the table setup, the decoration – everything was in pristine order. Things like that count as first impressions, and Upstairs receives full marks there.

Service

One thing you will not find elsewhere is the little remote used for various services – such as calling for ordering, calling for drinks, calling for additional service/bill, etc. This reduces the necessity to wait for a waiter to look at you and then calling them. Rather with the pressing of a button you get their attention right away. That does not mean that Upstairs is a fully automated restaurant. The waiters are cordial and more importantly, knowledgeable. They know how to suggest dishes for people of different tastes.

Time between ordering and receiving the meals was also balanced – not too early to suspect pre-cooked food, nor too late to think that the ingredients were to be extracted from their respective sources. Not to mention a complimentary warm hand towel and cold cinnamon drink does help for getting oriented with the place.

Menu

Upstairs offers French, Continental and Italian cuisine, something which I had rarely stumbled upon in Bangladesh (usually they end up with pseudo-Continental aftertastes). Those who are familiar with French cuisine and love it will be happy to see French appetizers such as Nicoise Salad, Quiche Loraine and other items – priced between Tk. 250 to Tk. 1100. That is where they falter, as price is quite steep. But as fine dining is their Unique Selling Proposition (USP), getting hold of premium target groups should not be a problem.

Main courses include French classics such as Beef Bourguignon (beef and potato stew), Lobster Thermidor, Mixed Grill and other items, priced mostly between Tk. 750 to Tk. 2400. Their Italian and Continental dishes are also sinfully delicious. A wide array of side dishes such as French fries, Onion Rings, Saffron Rice and others compliment the main dishes amazingly. Similarly, desserts such as Black Forest Gateau and Crème Brulee are appropriate finishers to your tantalising tastebuds.

I had the opportunity to try the Crevettes A la Provencale, which roughly translates to sauteed jumbo shrimps. This was cooked with garlic butter, lemon juice and herbs and was served with saffron rice and julienned sweet peppers. The shrimps, although a tad dry and moist without the garlic butter sauce, were cooked to perfection and were beautifully complimented with the rice and peppers. Then came the Upstairs Classic Club Sandwich, which came in toasted white bread. I ordered a side of home fries with garlic mayonnaise – and I have to say, you must try the fries with mayo, it is the best in town, period. The club was not over-toasted, as is the case at most fast-food joints, the crunchy toasts and inner stuffing was just about right.

The crème-de-la-crème was definitely the crème brulee. Every restaurant does cream custard caramel these days, but this is beyond doubt the authentic French version of it. And it delivers in every aspect – aesthetics and taste to be precise. The coating-like caramel crunch has to be broken and then the cream custard is to be devoured – that is as simple as instructions can be.

Verdict

Overall, I had a blast eating at Upstairs. That is not what I can say in most restaurants these days. I am okay with ages-old eating institutions retaining their customers over a period of time, but it is also time that newcomers give them a run for their money. Sure, high rental and maintenance costs, saturated market and faltering food quality disable most restaurants to sustain over a period of time. But I really hope that restaurants like the Upstairs Lounge & Bistro can sustain its position as a fine dining outlet, over a lengthy period of time. With great food comes great responsibility, they are to be the torch-bearers of today’s dining generation.

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