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Telepan Is Wonderful And Reminds Me Why I Love Living In New York

March 22, 2011

When you first walk in, it seems quite cozy.

So it goes without saying that if you’re a food blogger chances are pretty much excellent you’re a foodie. And I believe New York is a heaven for foodies, because it is filled with so many wonderful places to eat. And what is especially rewarding is that pretty much anywhere in town you can find really good food, and occasionally truly great food. One reason I love living on the Upper West Side is there are some tier one places that don’t uniformly charge tier one prices. Granted, you can dent your bank account (especially on wine) if you want to, but… .

The menu... .

So let’s talk Telepan. It’s a swanky restaurant that generally gets raves and I am about to praise my recent meal there too. They offer a 4 course meal for $55 ($101 with wine pairings) or a 5 course for $65, or $121 with wine pairings. Considering how easy it is to blow $100 on a crap meal in NYC, this is a great offer.

We couldn’t get a reservation but lucked out and were able to sit in the lounge. As it happens, the lounge is quite brightly lit, which is good if you’re  food blogger and want to take pictures of what you’re eating.

I opted for a four course meal and my wife ordered a la carte. For me, it was the egg in a hole to start (I love breakfast food as appetizers), lobster bolognese for a second course and heritage pork for a third. For the missus, she selected the trout blini (a house specialty) and chickpea pancakes.

Home-made cheese puffs.

You’ve got to love a restaurant that starts with a tasty amuse bouche. I know, I’m easy, what can I say. But a delicious amuse bouche makes so much sense to me as a way to start off a delightful: it says “Wake up! Delicious food is coming!” Ours was a cheddar cheese puff. It was very mild and warm.

Trout blini. A work of art. And delicious!

The house-smoked trout was very sour (black radish sour cream) and a deep smoke flavor. Some lemon cuts the strong flavors and adds effervescence. Of the two starters, it was the more appealing, as it turned out.

Egg in the hole with mushrooms.

The egg in a hole seemed more suited as a hangover cure. It was quite runny, and the strong mushroom presence (and flavor!) seemed a bit excessive. The toast was nice and crunchy and good for sopping up all the egg.

That faintly runny glob is an egg white, barely barely cooked.

I was mystified by the slow-poached egg preparation. It seemed to barely have congealed – some technique there. All in all the dish was hearty and runny, with the mushrooms adding an earthy heft.

Lobster Bolognese. Looks lovely, no?

We then sampled the lobster bolognese, and at this point I was beginning to notice something in common with the other dishes: a sour theme! The lobster bolognese had a very sour attack when you bit into it, which I couldn’t quite understand. After the initial sour blast came a heartiness lent by the spaghetti and rich lobster.

The lobster was surprisingly a touch tough.

The lobster, by the way, was a slight bit tough. The spaghetti itself was beautifully prepared to al dente perfection. All in all, though, I felt as though the dish was very ambitious, but the ambition was somehow outstripping the execution. That sour flavor… what was going on? I expected it to be richer and heartier.

Chickpea pancake from Telepan.

The chickpea pancake was surprisingly rich. The texture of the pancakes were delightfully soft. The carrot flavor added a sweet, yet despite the intense richness of the flavor there was something vaguely healthy-seeming about the dish.

Heritage pork, with bacon and sausage.

The pork was also interesting – a “moderne” take on the staple. Southern cooking meets haute cuisine. It included several different preparations of pork, including some sausage, and some bacon, served over a slaw.

Surprisingly fatty bit of pork there... .

You can see the fatty bit of pork I got. I was a little surprised by that. The bacon was like candy, albeit surprisingly a bit chewy. Had it been caramelized? The slaw (actually salade lyonnaise) was quite pleasant.

Gianduja = hallelujah.

For dessert we shared an insanely delicious gianduja. As you can see it is like a toy. You assemble your own spoonful. The flavors included chocolate, peanut butter, the ice cream lent a cool temperature to the experience, and the crunchy undercoat was delightful.

Ok, so it wasn’t perhaps the best dinner I’ve ever had at Telepan, but we got out of there paying just $147 for all of that extremely high quality, artful food and two martinis besides. In other words, it is priced just right, and is probably a bit of a steal when you consider the quality of what you’re getting. I will definitely be back.


72 West 69th Street
New York, N.Y. 10023

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