Dish Gal's guide to getting the most out of life, one meal at a time...

Lunch at Upstairs on the Square

Special occasion dining can be tricky, and I take the responsibility of picking a restaurant for these instances very seriously. For my mom's birthday, I spent many hours trying to pick the perfect place-- fun yet upscale, upscale yet unpretentious, unpretentious yet with haute cuisine... You catch my drift.

I finally settled on Upstairs on the Square, a place I had heard about but never tried, as I had always pictured a stuffy dining room filled with turned-up noses and arrogance. However, I could not be more wrong. When I saw the pictures of the dining room online I was shocked-- splashes of hot pink and zebra and gold chairs assaulted my senses-- and this was through a computer screen! I could not imagine what it would look like close up.

It was a bitter cold and rainy day, but when we walked into the restaurant it was as if we had entered another world-- part Alice in Wonderland, part fun house. We were dining in the Monday Club Bar (the upstairs dining room is reserved for dinners, called the Soiree Room), which was a hunter green room with splashes of pinks and purples and animal prints, with gold chairs and roaring fireplaces. Above the bar was written "Go Red Sox!" in large letters.

We were early for our reservation, so we grabbed a seat at the bar and ordered some drinks. I got my all-time fave, a bloody mary. It was decent, although not my favorite...it was loaded with horseradish, which I usually like in moderation, but this one had so much it overpowered any other flavors in the drink. I'm still partial to the one at Johnny D's in Somerville...

We were seated next to one of the fireplaces, which made the dining experience at once glamorous and cozy. Of course, it also partially roasted one half of my body, but can one really complain about one of the best tables in the place? The menu was a typical lunch menu with upscale touches. For example-- I chose the ham and gruyere on a croissant (ham and cheese sandwich anyone?). My mom got a cheeseburger, and my dad, salmon atop mixed greens. Everything was quite tasty, but nothing to fawn over.

The decor on the other hand was a different story-- the intricate details like the pink faux-snakeskin menus and the ornate chandeliers were all mesmerizing. Some could say it is seizure-inducing busyness, but I applaud anything that is different from the minimalist trend going on right now in restaurants with the white walls and the white chairs and the off-white linens... (Sorellina, I'm talking to you).

We finished with the butterscotch pudding, which was absolutely scrumptious. The sweetness perfectly complemented the sweetness of the decor-- and rounded out a great birthday lunch for one sweet lady.

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