Visit: 7 May 2022, lunch for two
Award: 1 Michelin Star
Tom Shepherd’s restaurant Upstairs was awarded its first Michelin star in the Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland 2022, and it is the first and only Michelin starred restaurant in Staffordshire.
I have visited on a number of previous occasions, and you can see my reviews and an introduction to the restaurant here:
The food was excellent, and the service was of a very high standard again. The staff were all very helpful and knowledgeable about the restaurant and food.
We chose the seven-course tasting menu with matching wines. We started with wild boar charcuterie and a Cornish crab and mayonnaise pastry tart. The quality of the charcuterie was very good. These were followed by horseradish ice cream in a red cabbage gazpacho with red wine vinegar and Portuguese olive oil. The horseradish in the ice cream did not come through, but the gazpacho was excellent.
Next, we were served seared, hand-dived Orkney scallops with peanut and sesame glaze, satay sauce, coriander oil, dashi vinegar gel, and coriander. For me, this was the stand-out dish of the day. It was very flavoursome, and I could have easily eaten a lot more.
I have eaten Tom’s coddled Burford brown egg dish before. It was served with pickled mushrooms, peas a la francaise, lettuce, and topped with a hollandaise espuma. The egg yolk was served firmer this time, but the egg white was still slightly runny, and I think the dish might be improved by changing the way the egg is cooked.
Much better was the Atlantic cod. This was served covered with a brioche, parsley and parmesan sheet, with kohlrabi puree and kohlrabi tagliatelle, and a velouté sauce with smoked caviar running through it, that was split with parsley oil. The cooking of the fish was well judged and the velouté was excellent.
The poached and smoked guinea fowl was served with barbecued white asparagus, a shitake mushroom ketchup, slices of oyster mushrooms, peanut and IPA jam, and a deep guinea fowl sauce, topped with hazelnuts. The guinea fowl was very tender and moist with excellent flavour. This was another very good dish.
Wiltshire lamb was served with Sauce Robert, barbecued spring onion, caramelised onion puree, and topped with a lamb fat crumb. This was accompanied by polenta chips and a small bowl of whipped goats curd with wild garlic oil. The lamb was served perfectly pink and was extraordinarily tender. The chips were very enjoyable and changed my mind about polenta.
The transition course was Tom’s memorable Thai green curry, with coconut rice pudding on the bottom, a mango salsa, mango sorbet, sweet Thai green curry foam, deep fried wild rice and coriander. This is another superb course with a very pleasant chilli kick. It’s a great way to move from the savoury courses to the dessert.
The dessert was a banoffee was a Choux pastry éclair, topped with a savoury biscuit, filled with a caramelia ganache, banana crème diplomat, Pedro Ximenez gel, almond crumb granola, with banana ice cream and caramel. There was lots of flavour, but it wasn’t too sweet. Caramelia is a milk chocolate made by French chocolate makers Valrhona. It has a distinct caramel undertone to the chocolate and a subtle salty finish. The Pedro Ximenez is an intensely sweet, dark, Spanish dessert sherry and the gel in this dessert worked very well with the Caramelia.
The cost of the 3-course lunch menu is £45 per head and the 7-course tasting menu is £90 per head. This is very good value for food of this quality and with the excellent service.
The seven accompanying wines all matched the food very well. The cost was £65 per head.
I recommend you book a table if you can. There are only 24 covers, so the restaurant is often fully booked, but if you can get in then you won’t be disappointed!
The Michelin Man stands in pride of place:
The Tasting Menu:
The seven course wine pairing costs £65 per head and matched the seven food courses very well