Up And Above

Special thanks to Up And Above for extending this food review invitation.

Update: This business has ceased its operations.

Up And Above European Cuisine opened its doors 4 months ago. This semi-fine dining restaurant specializes in French cuisine with elements of other European dishes, particularly Italian. Located at a row of shops just opposite of Pulau Tikus' post office, this 2-floor restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The kitchen is headed by Chef Thomas Lee, who is also one of the owners of the restaurant. An aspiring chef with decade-long experience working in the United Kingdom and Singapore, Thomas is back to his hometown in Penang to start his own restaurant. The name of this restaurant reflects his pursuit of greater heights of excellence.
To cater the fast-moving lunch crowd, Up And Above has the C'est Bon Lunch Special every day between 12:00pm and 3:00pm. "C'est bon" means "it's good" in French. Diners can choose either chicken, pork or fish - each with several cooking techniques (such as sous-vide, oven-baked, pan-fried) and gravy (such as black pepper, creamy mushroom, spicy tomato). Each dish also comes with a choice of starch: either Pilaf Rice, Olive Rice or Mashed Potato.

The meal begins with Soup Of The Day (RM5.00), which turns out to be Tomato Soup. Prepared from fresh tomatoes, the soup is dominated by appetizing tanginess. Unlike many restaurants, sweetness takes the backseat in Tomato Soup as too much sugar tends to overwhelm the palate early on.
Chicken Parmigiana (RM17.90) is based on traditional Italian dish Parmigiana Di Melanzane, made from eggplant, tomato and cheese. The current form was introduced and popularized by Italian immigrants to the United States. For this dish, a piece of deboned chicken leg is coated with honey corn flakes, then pan-fried with corn oil. Bacon strip and mozzarella cheese are added towards the end. Finally, the chicken fillet is dressed in freshly-made tomato sauce.
Each dish comes with a heap of coleslaw on the side. The coleslaw is made from finely shredded red cabbage and green cabbage, in an appearance similar to German sauerkraut except that it is not fermented. Raisins provide subtle sweetness but not to supplant the natural sweetness of vegetables. The coleslaw is held together using French mayonnaise, which contains mustard to sharpen the taste. Each chew of this crunchy coleslaw is satisfying indeed.
Pork Parmigiana (RM17.90) is prepared in a similar manner. The pork fillet is substantially firmer than chicken, so it is ideal for people who prefer denser texture of meat. Personally, I think the pork is slightly on the dry side, so chicken is still my personal preference. Like its chicken counterpart, Pork Parmigiana is topped with bacon and molten mozzarella cheese.
Olive Rice is infused with some amount of chicken stock, which gives it the slightly oily texture and aromatic presence. A small amount of chopped olive contributes to taste.
Meanwhile, Tilapia Parmigiana (RM17.90) is tenderer than pork but still not quite on par with chicken in terms of texture. However, I feel that the mozzarella cheese topping works harmoniously with the fish.
Pilaf Rice is heavily seasoned with chicken broth, to a greater extent compared to Olive Rice. The appearance is resembles Hainanese chicken rice or poule au riz in French cuisine. The rice is light and bursting with savory flavor - an expectation when rice is infused with so much chicken essence.
Going off a tangent, Oven Baked Sea Bream (RM15.90) takes a different preparation method with different result. The fish itself is exquisite - delicate and tender - making it very agreeable in the mouth. The fillet is flavored with capsicum coulis, which I think is very mild in terms of spiciness.
In lieu of rice, one may also go for mashed potato. The mashed potato here is prepared from actual potatoes, not from instant ones. Mashed by hand, the entire preparation process is laborious but rewarding. I can feel the "grainy" texture of potato granules within each mouthful.
The lunch menu also includes several types of pasta. A recommended dish is Linguine Pork Bolognese (RM9.90). Bolognese sauce is made from minced pork, onion and tomato, resulting in something between creamy and watery consistencies. Eaten with linguine, bold flavor of pork resonates well with the milder taste of pasta. The serving size of this dish is quite large but does not feel too taxing to the stomach.
Crème Brûlée (RM4.00) is prepared by caramelizing a layer of sugar on top of custard. Usually, a butane torch is used. The hard, transparent layer helps to keep the custard moist. There are two types of custard here: vanilla and orange zest. The latter is served today. In either case, vanilla fruits or fresh oranges are used. Up And Above does not use artificial essence in its food.
Last but not least, the cup of Latte (RM5.00) is prepared from espresso coffee. The drink is quite smooth and has pleasant sweetness thanks to the presence of fresh milk. Brewed from organic, fair trade beans, the coffee is surprisingly affordable especially in an upscale setting.
At Up And Above, much effort is expended in food preparation. The restaurant favors fresh ingredients and manual preparation to present maximum freshness - even if it means higher cost that many restaurants are unwilling to afford. Nevertheless, the lunch menu is surprisingly inexpensive when ambience and service are taken into consideration. The restaurant has an entirely different menu for breakfast and dinner, both of which I am eager to savor next.

Name: Up And Above European Cuisine
Address: 37-D, Jalan Cantonment, 10250 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 012-407-9168
Business hours: 7:30am-3:00pm, 6:00pm-10:00pm
Website: http://www.upandabove-dining.com
Coordinates: 5.43224 N, 100.31189 E
Directions: From Burmah Road (Jalan Burma), turn left into Lintang Burma at Kedai Makan Chang Senr (昌胜咖啡室). Immediately, drive along the service road parallel to Burmah Road. After the corner, Up And Above is located on the left. Street parking is available along the service road, but vacant spaces may be scarce during peak hours.

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