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Jan 24, 2007 08:51 PM

Telepan - RW review

Lunch with some colleagues today was excellent. Restaurant Week menu was better than most I've seen in the past...probably because it pretty much the same lunch menu they regularly offer.

Just a brief report:

I ordered the Roast Quail served with duck and dried fruit sausage, autumn panzanella & dried fruit vinaigrette. The half quail was cooked and seasoned just right. The duck and dried fruit sausage (3 pieces) was good, but cooler than room temperature, which seemed a bit odd to me. The autumn panzanella was okay - sounding better "on paper" but still good. Nice.

Lobster Bolognese in a shallot-garlic-tomato broth and light herbs ($5 supp.). This was, I admit, pretty to look at but perhaps I expected to see more. But my eyes deceived me. The lobster tail, still tucked in its shell must have been poached in butter or something similar. It was over the top, but still keeping its lobster flavor intact. Really rich. The pasta was different...not in a bad way, just different. Overall, this dish was really very good.

Brandy Bread Pudding with brandied cherry ice cream and brandy sauce. Delicious. The brandy flavor was nicely evident, the bread pudding had just the right amount of crispness on top and plushness in the middle. I think there was vanilla in the ice cream too, which was excellent as well. Solid.

Overall one of the best RW experiences I've had. Service from our waitress and bus team was perfect...despite being sent to Siberia...which I credit to the slightly smug maitre d' (we were by far the youngest in the restaurant). The space is interesting. I want to like the photos of the fruit, but seeing them up close is dizzying/unsettling...the runner was all out of whack and looked like a bad backdrop to a grade school photo. Also, the tables are too high for the booths. Either that or the booths are too low. No. The tables are too high. Doesn't make for a comfortable dining experience.

Great food, good waitservice, boring exterior (really blah), questionable interior and bad table height. Worth going for the food alone.

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  1. Hey, dkstar1, While I haven't been to Telepan, and we generally avoid doing RW, I think you hit on why the RW food at Telepan is successful. It appears that upscale restaurants that serve a 3-course "bargain" lunch all year round don't need to adjust that menu for RW, so their cuisine tends to be superior to restaurants that compose a menu just for RW and often seek to do it on the cheap. Thus, you often hear the complaint that there was only some boring pasta or chicken being offered -- not that pasta and chicken have to be boring. But I hope you catch my drift.

    We haven't been to Telepan yet, but I've been looking forward to trying it at some point. Strange, but I don't recall anyone else ever mentioning that table/booth situation. One would think if it makes dining uncomfortable, there would be other comments about it. This is not to critcize you for commenting on it. Au contraire! I'm glad you mentioned it because comfort while dining is important to me. Perhaps it would it would be better to sit at a free-standing table, presuming there are some and the table vs chair height is more comfortable?

    Btw, because you commented favorably about Urena, we finally went there for dinner this week. In a word: superb!

    2 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      Hi RGR,

      As we were clearly designated to Siberia, it is very possible that the main dining room has more comfortable seating arrangements. But the last booth's table in the second room closest to the photo of pears (though the photos change seasonally) was very tall compared to the seats. I had to (be prepared for slight exaggeration) lurch over my bowl to eat the lobster bolognese.

      I'm glad you checked out Urena. He is creating excellent food. I went back and read Bruni's review last night - and he hit the nail on the head when he said that he clearly has the skills to run his own restaurant/kitchen but not the capital to appropriately showcase those skills.

      1. re: dkstar1

        Considering what a beating Urena has taken about the ambiance, we were actually pleasantly surprised to find it far better than expected. Given the shape of the space, I think they've done the best they could with table arrangements and, in my view, the lighting, which was the subject of so much vituperation, was perfect. The maitre d', Christopher, told us that all they did was paint the ceiling. He also told us that patronage has recently picked up considerably. We were glad to hear that because Alex deserves to succeed. We liked his food when he was at Marseille. But what he is serving here is on a much higher level, both with regard to creativity and flavor. One thing that should be pointed out is that for food of such high caliber, prices are an amazing bargain!

    2. I'm curious to know whether the clientele at Telepan skews consistently older -- I've been thinking about going there, but in the past I've felt slightly uncomfortable going to places that are filled with people several decades older than I.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Sarah K

        I'm curious to know too as Telepan is definitely next on my hit list after RW...I'm on my 30's...will the clientele there be more than a couple of decades older than I?

        1. re: nyufoodie

          Each of my colleagues have been there for dinner and/or lunch previously on a few occasions. The age range is 24-31. They mentioned that everytime they've been, they were by far the youngest people at the restaurant.

          Don't expect the best seat in the house (in fact, expect to be seated in the hinterlands) if you are mid 30s and younger and aren't a celebrity.

          But as I said, the food is very good.

          1. re: dkstar1

            Good food is reason enough to go. Maybe this is a good place to check-out with my dad ;-)

            1. re: nyufoodie

              Definitely. I'd bring my dad there and I would pretty much bet he'd love it.

      2. My boyfriend and I went to Telepan together, and a second time with his mother. I thought we were seated well both times. Thus, age wasn't the issue for us.
        However, our waiter asked us if we needed to be out of there on time to go to a show. Since it wasn't an early reservation (7pm), I felt that the implication was that were tourists or otherwise bridge-and-tunnel. Maybe I am overly sensitive, but it bugged me a little.

        Full disclosure: I am a born and raised Manhattanite who now lives in Hoboken, so I get annoyed by New Yorkers' contempt towards the out of towners who keep them flush with cash.

        4 Replies
        1. re: littleguy

          Since Telepan is located very close to Lincoln Center, I'm sure the staff is trained to ask that question of everyone dining pre-theater. There may be pre-Lincoln Center diners who, for whatever reason, make a 7 p.m. reservation and so need to be out in a hurry. I think it's admirable that the kitchen staff can get them out in time for an 8 p.m. curtain. Thus, I don't think you were asked because they thought you were a tourist or a member of the b&t crowd. I do agree with you that there is no reason for natives to sneer at visitors to Manhattan whether they come from across the country or across the Hudson River.

          Re: the issue of seating. No matter what your age, if you are not happy with your table and there are others that are unoccupied, you should not hesitate to ask for a change.

            1. re: dkstar1

              I'm an ancient 50 and have been eating at Telepan quite frequently, so they know me...I'm not sure what constitutes "Siberia", but we've been seated in all 3 areas of the restaurant and find them all equally good...and it's definitely not a celebrity type place, or a hip-vibe place. I've never encountered any type of attitude. It's a place to go and eat very good food for a reasonable price. I'm not sure what us old folk do to make you youngsters uncomfortable, but we're not that dangerous. I'd risk it, for the sake of the food.
              It is a perfect place to eat before Lincoln Center and they are quite skilled at getting you out on time, even if you have the 4-course option. Many of the people there before 8 are heading that way, so the waitstaff always checks.

              1. re: David W

                don't lump me into the category of not feeling comfortable around people older than me. That's far from the case. I was only reporting on the people who were present during my visit and what my dining partners had experienced in previous visits.

                Siberia is being put in the room farthest from the "action" and/or one of the most remote tables in the house.

        2. My 17 year old daughter and I ate lunch at Telepan in December and were seated at an excellent table among people of all ages. The butternut squash pierogi was the single best thing we ate in New York. The service was flawless.

          1. Have had brunch @ Telepan twice - here is review from first time...

            Our table in the center of the main room was great (and we are humble, average NYers) and the ages of the other diners was surprisingly varied, certainly as many people in their 30's as there were in their 40's and 50's. I did not see many 20 somethings or 60 somethings.

            Telepan is a treasure - Bill Telepan is one of the finest chefs in town - food is fabulous.