UP on the Roof, the roof-top restaurant at the top of Embassy Suites Downtown, opened Jan. 11, drawing larger-than-expected crowds throughout the weekend, a fact that was at least partially attributable to the unseasonably warm weather.
The roar of the guests on the outdoor deck Friday night drowned out the blaring top 40 music and could be heard two blocks away on street level. By 9:30 p.m., it was standing-room only on the outdoor deck, the indoor bar was three people deep and the seating was full with a constant wait.
UP, as employees call it, overlooks the Reedy River with near-360-degree views of the city, and features outdoor fire pits, bottled craft cocktails, along with a Pacific Island-inspired menu using loads of local ingredients.
The restaurant is a unique concept from Ruth’s Chris. Stephanie Malinauskas, Ruth’s Chris director of marketing and communications for South Carolina and surrounding areas, says UP may remain unique to the Greenville market.
The target demographic for UP is young professionals, says Kirk Watkins, general manager. And from the looks of the capacity crowd Friday night, it looks like the restaurant achieved that goal.
“We’re imagining guests are not going to be terribly stationary,” Malinauskas said before the restaurant officially opened, explaining why the bottled cocktails (craft cocktails pre-bottled as old-fashioned sodas on-site) would be even more important to keeping drink orders from backing up.
Chef Eric Omick developed the small-plate menu based on his experience living in Hawaii for years and then added Southern influences. He says the first sketch of the menu when UP was slated to open in the fall is completely different than the current one.
Omick’s small plates include Carolina Pimento Cheese Biscuits (blue she-crab, sweet peppers, arugula) $10; Ancho Chile Prawns (nursery cilantro, chile pepper-tomato jam) $12; Heritage Farms Pork Ribs (ginger slaw) $14; Roasted Beets (split creek goat cheese, orange, mint, hazelnuts, lemon-ginger vinaigrette) $6.50; Shishito Peppers (sesame-seed furikake, macadamia nuts, house-made ponzu sauce) $6; Duck’n Waffles (fried confit duck thigh, duck egg, five-spice maple syrup) $14; Springer Mt. Farms Roasted Chicken (Meyer lemon citronette, shiso, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, whipped potatoes) $12; Miso-glazed Butterfish (heirloom carrots, soy-glaze, tomato relish) $16.50; and Grilled Octopus (tempura fingerling potatoes, Carolina smoked sausage, black olive caramel, salsa verde) $15.
Shared plates include an Upstate Provisions Charcuterie Block (locally-cured meats, artisanal cheeses, pickled vegetables, pesto, savannah bee creamed honey, sliced baguette) $19 and an Oyster Bake (Atlantic oysters, shallots, garlic, spinach, parmesan cheese-bacon crust) $16.
For dessert, try the Coco Puff (cream puff pastry, chocolate pudding, macadamia nut Chantilly, ganache) $6; Seasonal Sorbet (fresh berries, mint) $7; and Funnel Fries (Carolina honey-bourbon panna cotta, vanilla-bean sweet cream) $6.50.
The bottled cocktails include It’s Strawberry Thyme (Aviation gin, Cointreau, muddled strawberries, fresh thyme, hint of lemon sour) $12; The Reedy Peach (Deep Eddy peach vodka, cucumber vodka, lime juice, cucumber water, tonic syrup, mint simple syrup, lavender berries) $12; Roof-tini (Hangar One Kaffir Lime, Skyy vodka, blueberry-blackberry simple syrup, rosemary simple syrup, cranberry juice, triple sec) $12; and Night Moves (Tanteo jalapeño tequila, blanco tequila, lime juice, cucumber water, lemon sour, agave) $12.
As for brews, the bar offers five local and regional beers on tap (Sierra Nevada American-style IPA $6.50; Birds Fly South 2 Hop Session IPA $8; and others from Charleston, Columbia and Charlotte), along with both white and red wine on tap. Classic drinks with a twist include Sherry Is So Old Fashioned (Monkey Shoulder scotch, Pedro Ximenez sherry, simple syrup, Angostura and orange bitters) $12; Bo’s Point of View (Woodford Reserve bourbon, black walnut bitters, pink grapefruit juice, honey simple syrup) $12; and Moon-Over-Moscow Mule (Reyka Icelandic vodka, simple syrup, lime juice, ginger liqueur, ginger ale) $12.
Currently, UP on the Roof opens at 4 p.m. each night and remains open until at least midnight. By the end of the month, Watkins says he hopes to be open at 11 a.m. daily.
For more information, visit eatupdrinkup.net.