Today, S. Irene Virbila checks out Upstairs 2, the second-floor dining room for small plates and big vino at the Wine House. Since Miss Irene writes the wine column for the Times, her review is heavy on the wine-speak, right down to noting the "proper" use of Riedel stemware. But her intro to the food sets us up for disappointment right away, and with the one star she gives Upstairs 2, she didn't experience greatness:
The format is small-plates Mediterranean, which always sounds so alluring on paper but is so difficult to do well. Diners tend to order all over the place, mixing cold dishes with hot, ordering three plates and then two more and then adding five, so the kitchen has a hard time setting a pace. And chefs tend to treat each dish as a mini-entree, laying on too many competing flavors and diminishing each dish's effect.Miss Irene likes most salads, trashes all but one entree, and suggests skipping dessert altogether for a bottle of dessert wine. Still, her in-all-due-fairness attitude at the end is so forgiving that this week the "S." stands for "soft," as in going.
Upstairs 2 is open late — until midnight on Wednesday and Thursday, and until an optimistic 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. It's a brave new late-night dining scene Knight is attempting to create, and the night owls among us thank him. And if the menu is too fussy and ambitious, we might want to remember that Upstairs 2 is still a work in progress.