During my first outing with the shiftdrink team, we discovered in the Upper West Side “hotspot” Telepan, a blend of calming atmosphere and interesting flavors. Nestled into a converted brownstone on west 69th Street (btwn Columbus & CPW), the décor is a lighthearted pastel green, adding a little personality to the traditional wood and white tablecloths.
After a round of tasty cocktails, the tempest and a calvados sidecar, and some discussion of the menu; Sven, Winston and I settled on sharing three appetizers, two mid courses, and three entrees. So, when the chef, Bill Telepan (whose credits include Le Cirque, Gotham Bar and Grill, and the executive chef at Ansonia) sent over a sample plate in addition(a mushroom soup, a duck pate and a spinach pizza), I knew I had to pace myself. My favorite was the delicious wild mushroom soup served in a tea party sized mug.
C O N T I N U E D . . .
The first course came at a leisurely pace, leading us to joke about the frequent necessity of grabbing an additional bite before a long drawn out, multi-course meal. This wasn’t the case at Telepan. We dove into jumbo shrimp poppers with a green chili aioli that had a great kick to them, a fabulous quail appetizer, and an intriguing crispy artichoke and egg frittata with melted buffalo mozzarella. I pulled the artichoke to my side of the table, and kept it there, until nothing was left.
Our server Prince, hailing from Bangladesh, stopped by to see how things were going. He maintained a friendly demeanor while staying safely inside the boundaries of decorum (much appreciated). Sven ordered from him a bottle of ’04 Albert Mann Gewurztraminer, which surprisingly, we managed to show some restraint and actually enjoy the wine; mainly due to busy work schedules the next day.
Our next round included the lobster bolognese with a shallot-garlic-tomato broth, and a seared fois gras that, judging from the look on Sven’s face after the first bite, had endorphin releasing powers.
As we neared the end of the bottle, conversations turned to family and real estate in the New York area. We marveled at the commercial use of this residential brownstone, and the idea that in Manhattan, people enjoy entire apartments barely the same size as the room we were now seated in. Between shiftdrink’s growing families and my roommate experiences, we gazed wide-eyed for a moment, relishing the thought of owning this much space.
It wasn’t long before we were jerked back into reality as our entrees hit the table. Sven and I managed to power through a delightfully flaky striped bass in cauliflower and lobster sauce, and a sirloin steak with a short rib hash. Winston left a respectable dent in his heritage pork with lentils and pickled greens, predicting his wife’s jealousy as he described the meal to her later.
The staff was quick to accommodate when Gary arrived to join us for dessert. We committed ourselves to more than we probably needed, but when you have Pastry Chef Larissa Raphael in the house, you have to do it up right.
We loved Winston’s port custard and fig napoleon, with layers of port glazed figs, port sauce and a cocoa nib tuile. I would have been content with the cream cheese ice cream that accompanied my spiced applesauce cake, it was that good. When I turned my head for only a moment, it seemed the entire apple cake had been sucked through a straw by the other three. I guess they liked it.
It was nice not to be chastised when Gary, while gesturing through a story of taxi cab accidents, knocked his glass of port all over the floor. A cleaning crew swarmed in and mopped it up, without being the least bit obtrusive.
Judging from this older crowd of suits and sweater sets on a Monday night, this establishment is already popular with the neighborhood crowd. As I glanced at my watch, realizing three hours had just passed, I was thankful for the walk to my apartment to burn off the remaining haze of gluttony.
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