Archive for the ‘West Side’ Category

Top Features of Telepan (And a Few Things to Fix)

December 30, 2006

Lo bueno:

1) Welcoming waiters: No problem being the first one through the door, nor seating me without my date. A server showing real warmth and Midwestern cheekbones started my meal off right. Place filled fast, but bustle never turned to rush. Someone’s managing this team effectively.

2) Wine list with room for everybody: Good variety of prices suggests wine director on customers’ side. Looking to cultivate clientele, not exploit them. Second glass of Barossa a bit warm, but it may just have been sitting at the bar too long. Also fun to imagine occasions for ordering jeroboams, double magnums, nebuchanezzars and other whimsically named mega-bottles on offer.

3) Doubling down on Trout: Salmon is the chicken of the sea for cost-conscious prix-fixe menus. Trout gets you to the same place price-wise without evoking bad wedding dinners. Particularly liked the cold trout dish.

4) Circulating chef: Friendly but not overbearing. Telepan made the rounds with sincerity and speed. Long enough face time to let me know he’s really here, and short enough face time to let me know he’s really cooking.

5) Potent espressos: Wickedly strong work. Cut right through two glasses of wine and had me skipping to Levain Bakery for a post-lunch snack. N.B. Do not order a tasting trio of Levain’s cookies and eat them sequentially after lunch at Telepan, unless you have good milk, of course, or access to a vomitorium.

Lo malo:

1) Terrible Tomme: Stingy and sloppy cheese plate. No shape or design to speak of and truffle-like portion size.

2) Bread: Impossible to eat without making a mess. Inconsistent quality and insufficient variety.

3) Surcharges belie the bargain lunch: Unfair number of supplement charges for a short menu. Be realistic, you’ll make the money on wine by the glass anyway. Don’t make me feel ripped off and I’ll spend more.

4) Cauliflower main is a weed in the entrée bouquet: Cauliflower dish was beautiful in conception but not in execution. A little “enchanted broccoli forest mid-70’s vegetarian” for such an accomplished chef. Flavors were indistinct, and some florets were unintentionally (I hope) overcooked.

5) That’s it: The good far outweighed the bad in a restaurant I’ll continue to root for.

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5 West Side Values For Mid-day Indulgence

December 3, 2006

1) Nougatine Room at Jean-Georges. Literally as close as you can get to 4-star food for this kind of money. Waiter service is hotel quality, with good intentions partially compensating for language difficulties, but food is well-prepared, the open kitchen theater is excellent (though no Café Gray) for those who enjoy such action.

2) Telepan: Taking a page from Compass on value, Bill Telepan has given West Siders, and discerning destination diners, a reason to skip dinner and splurge at lunch…and then return with the extra cash for dinner.

3) Compass: Upper West Side’s best claim to ambitious value, especially brunch. Brilliant use of fixed components–bread and pastry basket, starter selection plate and dessert sampler plate–keeps costs down while offering sensation and reality of luxuriant abundance. Weekend mid-day service not as soulful and informative as one might wish, a bit busboy-like, but such is Sunday on the West Side.

A short subway ride away

4) and 5) Double down on The Modern’s and Alto‘s prix-fixes: Feel virtuous on the low-cost subway then settle in for the ultimate Lucullan lunch–take in Midtown’s two new classics’ prix-fixes back to back. Such a feat requires discipline, but you’ll waddle forth fatter and happier than anyone else in Midtown.  As a bonus, if you finish with the Modern, you can take in some half-decent art afterwards .  Ask yourself if the renovations were worth it, that is, from a non-foodie perspective.