EATING out is one of my favourite pastimes. And when the food is
as good as that at Upstairs at the Grill, it is one of life’s great pleasures.

It is very unusual to eat out and not have any niggles about the experience; there’s normally room for some criticism. But based on our meal, I would struggle to find any area that fell below exceptional.

We chose Upstairs at the Grill because Melissa fancied, as she put it, “a proper Sunday roast”. There’s no shortage of choice in Chester but we’d heard good things about the restaurant and, at £12.50 per head, the price seemed reasonable.
We skipped the starters, opting to dive straight into the main. We both went for the rib of Welsh beef and the signs were good when the friendly but efficient waiter asked us how we liked our meat (pink for me, well done for Melissa).

The beef, cooked perfectly as requested, simply melted in the mouth. The restaurant prides itself on the quality of its meat – which is all sourced locally – and it was undoubtedly the star of the show. The accompaniments, though, were almost as impressive.

The garlic and rosemary potatoes were crunchy and fluffy, with the herbs adding a subtle but distinct note. Alongside this, the honey-glazed carrots and parsnips, and cauliflower cheese in particular, were delicious, as was the crispy Yorkshire pudding. The icing on the cake was the generous serving of rich red wine gravy, a million miles from the bland offerings served up in many eateries.

Upstairs at the Grill also gets a big tick for offering plenty of horseradish sauce; a roast beef dinner is incomplete without it.

The food was so good even Melissa – normally quite a critic when we eat out – was moved to say every mouthful was perfect. I would find it hard to disagree with her.

Having had such an excellent main, I was determined to try the desserts. I eventually persuaded Melissa to join me (I didn’t want to look greedy), and we chose the vanilla creme brulee with home-made shortbread biscuit and the home-made lemon tart with macerated raspberries.

Again, both were delicious with the rich and creamy creme brulee my pick of the two.

So were there any negatives? Not really, although my bottle of Innis and Gunn ale was a bit steep at £4.50 and it wouldn’t be at the top of my list to take young children. Otherwise, the food and the service were excellent, while the meals themselves represented excellent value for money given the quality on offer.

Upstairs won Best Small Restaurant in the 2011 Chester Food Festival
and it’s easy to see why. I’m just waiting for a chance to return and sample some of the dishes on the main menu – if they live up to the standard of the Sunday roast, they will be spectacular.