Described as “culinary potpourri” offering food inspired by flavors and cultures from around the world, Upper West Restaurant in Santa Monica, Calif., specializes in “good times and good food,” according to Executive Chef and Partner Nick Shipp.
A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Shipp ventured to Los Angeles to explore the culinary scene and opened Upper West as a “comfortable, local-driven restaurant” more than eight years ago. He has 25 years of industry experience, starting as a dishwasher at age 16: “I’ve done everything in the business,” he added. “Literally, you name it and I’ve done it!”
For his celebrated Mushroom Tart with Tomato Jam, Goat Cheese and Fresh Oregano, Shipp wanted to explore the savory side of General Mills’ offerings. The fresh and modern twist on flatbread starts with a delectable tomato jam on Pillsbury's Best™ Puff Pastry Dough, then piles on balsamic-sautéed mushrooms, fresh oregano and goat cheese.
He insists that the recipe is simple and versatile enough to “pull off in any home kitchen.” Upper West did a test run of the tart for its regular customers and continues to receive requests for a repeat performance.
Later this summer, the special Mushroom Tart will take its place on the regular menu, alongside favorites such as Thai Peanut Noodles, Braised Prime Short Ribs, Chicken Tawook, Coffee Crusted Red Wattle Pork Tenderloin, Blackened Shetland Island Salmon and many more. The always-evolving lunch and dinner menu is “refined cuisine that’s not confusing. It’s very approachable.” Shipp sources many ingredients locally from the Santa Monica Farmers Market.
Shipp noted that Los Angeles can be overwhelming as far as restaurants go, which is why he wanted to create a comfortable environment that offers something for everyone. Community involvement is also a key to the restaurant’s story and success.
“We built Upper West with the community in mind,” Shipp said. “We not only have a loyal local following that drives our business, but we work with a lot of charities and area schools to support their goals.”
As the West Regional Recipe Winner in the 2018 Neighborhood to Nation Recipe Contest, Shipp receives $5,000 plus $1,000 to share with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, as selected by Shipp.
Upper West has supported nonprofits such as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Breast Cancer Awareness, Venice Family Clinic, Planned Parenthood and local schools, among others. Wall décor changes quarterly, hosting one local artist – with a special opening – per season. In addition, Upper West recently received a 2018 Diners Choice Award from Open Table, as well as a Diners Award from LA Restaurant Week and recognition from TripAdvisor.