Visit: 8 October 2021
Tom Shepherd has opened his new restaurant above his father’s jewellery shop in Lichfield. We’ve waited a long time, with delays due to COVID, but it was worth the wait! You can never be sure how well an opening night will go, but the Upstairs team provided a great experience, superb food, a great wine list and excellent service.
You can choose either a five-course tasting menu priced at £62 per head or seven-course for £77 per head. There’s a 3-course lunch menu and traditional 3-course Sunday lunch. As well as a wine list, with a good choice of wines by the glass and bottle, there are matched wines to accompany the food, at £55 per head.
Tom was head chef at Adam’s restaurant in Birmingham, where he successfully retained the restaurant’s Michelin star and three AA rosettes for over two years. Trained at New Hall Hotel in Walmley, he has previously worked at Restaurant Sat Bains as Development Chef, as Sous Chef to Michael Wignall at The Latymer, and as Sous Chef at The Samling when they won their first star in 2013.
Tom won an Acorn Award in 2018. This annual award celebrates the achievements of 30 of the industry’s brightest prospects, all aged under 30, with each winner nominated by their peers for their outstanding ability in their field.
After he left Adam’s to start his own restaurant in 2019, Tom ran the successful Dine at Home with Tom Shepherd, producing fine dining food boxes that I found to be excellent.
You enter the restaurant up a flight of stairs. There is a very nice bar area and a kitchen table for four diners who want to experience the working kitchen closeup. The 24-cover restaurant is elegant and well designed. There are exciting plans for a roof terrace planned for early 2022.
To start with we had amuse bouche of tuna tartare with compressed melon, followed by a red cabbage gazpacho with a horseradish ice cream. Both were good.
The first course of the seven-tasting menu was a very good confit chicken wing, with a dashi broth, celeriac, celeriac puree and apple. This was excellent.
Next was a coddled hen’s egg, with beetroot, and a boudin noir sauce. I enjoyed the contrast of tastes, similar to an English breakfast. However, the white of the egg was not set and one of my guests was unable to eat it.
Much better was the poached cod loin, with mussels, champagne and caviar sauce, and grenobloise (“grenobloise” means served with a sauce of browned butter, capers, parsley and lemon). This was very well executed. The cod was cooked perfectly and the rich champagne sauce with salty caviar was excellent. This was one of my favourite dishes.
Next was quail, served with shiitake mushrooms and turnip, with an excellent IP8 vinegar, Guinness and reduced sake sauce. The quail was perfectly cooked, and the sauce was silky and rich. The confit legs were served on the side. This course was very well executed and the stand-out dish of the evening for me.
The Herefordshire 60-day aged sirloin was served with pickled carrot, carrot puree, water cress, and a sauce Robert (this is a classic French brown mustard sauce made with onions, mustard, and white wine simmered in a basic demi-glace). The beef was tender although the gristle on mine had not been removed completely. The sauce was very well made and complemented the beef perfectly.
We then moved onto the desserts with a “transition” course of Thai green curry which was a very clever dish of rice pudding with a mango sorbet, and cracked rice sprinkled on top. This had flavours of Thai curry, but a sweetness that moved us onto the dessert.
The dessert was a Paris-Brest, which is a French dessert, made of choux pastry and a praline flavoured cream, which was served with poached pear, caramelia, a pear butter, and Pedro Ximinez. This was an excellent dessert but maybe a little too large and would benefit from some refining.
The tasting wines were all very good and matched the food well. I discovered a great dessert wine from the Halfpenny Green Wine Estate in Bobbington, Staffordshire which I will be looking out for in future.
We had a memorable evening. The food was excellent, and the staff were very helpful and attentive. This is going to be one of the top dining attractions in Staffordshire and Tom and his team have the ability and drive to gain Michelin star recognition. I will be returning as soon as I can get a booking!
Entering the restaurant:
There is a wine list available with a selection of wines by the glass and bottle. We chose the 7-glass wine pairing priced at £55 per head. There were some unusual pairings, but all were well thought through and matched the food well. I especially liked the Late Harvest Halfpenny Green dessert wine from the 30-acre Halfpenny Green Wine Estate in Bobbington, Staffordshire. It was full of ripe apricot and honey flavours that matched the dessert very well: