Upper Crust: A Casual Fine Dining Experience

By Liz Premo

Atlantic News, Thursday, September 11, 2003

A TOAST TO CASUAL FINE DINING -- Upper Crust owner Dave Keimach (left) and Chef Nick Roosevelt (right) welcome patrons to Hampton's newest restaurant, which offers casual fine dining in a comfortable atmosphere, all at a very reasonable price. [Atlantic News Photo by Liz Premo.]

HAMPTON -- "We've brought a little bit of Boston to the Seacoast, but we've left the prices there."

That observation is made by Dave Keimach, owner/operator of the Upper Crust Restaurant, located at 881 Lafayette Road, Hampton. Open for just about a month, Upper Crust offers a memorable evening out, experience for people who are looking to enjoy casual fine dining in comfortably appointed surroundings, without having to pay the high menu prices often found in metropolitan restaurants.

From its warm, stylish burgundy and terra cotta faux-finished floors and walls, to the clean, crisp table linens and sparkling table settings, Upper Crust presents a classy yet comfortable atmosphere which patrons are sure to enjoy from the moment they through the door. Framed art work, potted plants, striking window treatments, and candles and fresh flowers on each table add to the ambiance of the dining area. Of course, a helpful, courteous staff is ready and waiting to serve each and every customer that comes in.

"You don't need a suit and you don't need to dress fancy," says Dave, "but we treat you like [you're at] a five-star restaurant." The menu is certainly of the five-star variety. The entrees - both the basics and the specials - are made from only the freshest ingredients and presented courtesy of Chef Nick Roosevelt, who comes to Upper Crust from 43º North in Portsmouth.

With about 20 years of culinary experience to his crew, Roosevelt. (yes, he's related) creates such dishes as the Basil Parmesan Crusted Haddock, served with a sun dried tomato garlic white wine sauce; the imported New Zealand Rack of Lamb, marinated in fresh herbs and served with stone ground mustard demi glace; and the Saga Bleu Cheese Crusted Filet Mignon, a center-cut l0-ounce tenderloin filet, grilled to preferred doneness and drizzled with a garlic cabernet sauce.

For those who prefer vegetarian fare, there's the Vegetable Napoleon, a portabello mushroom dish piled high with layers of spinach, roasted red pepper, eggplant and Boursin cheese, drizzled with tomato conncase. Poultry aficionados will enjoy the Chicken Marscapone, a 10-ounce bone-in herbed chicken breast that is stuffed, baked and finished with a beurre rouge marscapone.

Additional seafood dishes feature the Cucumber Dill Farm Raised Salmon, Pan Seared Lobster and Scallops, and Grilled Halibut. And those who enjoy digging into a juicy cut of meat will love the Slow-Roasted Prime Rib, Double Cut Pork Chop, and 3-Peppercorn New York Strip Steak.

Diners who feel a little more adventurous can try the Wild Game Stew, made with farm-raised venison, elk and caribou that is brought in fresh, not frozen, directly from Vermont. There's also an appetizer menu (a jumbo shrimp cocktail; grilled scallops served atop roasted native corn and lime salsa; and pan-seared Maine crab cakes are just a few) in addition to the fresh soups and salads.

Want to try some lighter fare? In addition to the regular menu, Upper Crust is now offering about a dozen taste-tempting selections, such as a Chicken Caesar Salad (freshly made-to-order); quality homemade Prime Rib Chili (by the cup or the bowl); cheese, veggie or pepperoni Flat Bread Pizza; Clam Chowder in a Bread Bowl; or the Blackened Tenderloin Sandwich — served open-faced with sautéed onion, portabella mushroom and mozzarella cheese. There's also an appetizer menu (a jumbo shrimp cocktail; grilled scallops served atop roasted native corn and lime salsa; and pan-seared Maine crab cakes are just a few) in addition to the fresh soups and salads.

It's not unusual to have one of these selections elicit gasps of surprise and delight from customers when brought to the table - and it's Chef Nick's culinary talents that help make it happen.

"He's very talented," says Dave. "His presentation is fantastic. He wants [each plate] to look like a work of art."

Fresh baked breads, luscious homestyle desserts, and beverages (including beer and wine) help to complete a deliciously special Upper Crust dinner. And according to Dave, customer satisfaction is definitely at the high end of the scale.

"Every customer (from couples to families) that has come in has liked it," says Dave. "We're batting a thousand so far." The prices are right, too, and the service is outstanding.

"I want you to feel special when you're here,"Dave adds. "Just come and enjoy and get treated nicely."

Experience a truly delightful dining experience at the Upper Crust Restaurant, located at 881 Lafayette Road in Hampton. Currently the dining room is open Fridays and Saturdays from 5-9 p.m.; Dave notes that "as we're discovered, we'll open up more hours." Reservations are always welcome, but not necessary, and may be made by calling 929-0700.

See the restaurant's menu

[The Upper Crust Restaurant closed its doors a few weeks later in October 2003.]