When you want to celebrate that special evening with that special someone, and are willing to spend some money, you can’t do much better than
72 W. 69th St.
Between Columbus and Central Park West
Decor and service at Telepan
The decor is one of understated elegance. This isn’t the sort of place where everything is gold and glitter, but everything is pretty and functional, and designed for the comfort of the patrons. The service, too, is understated perfection. If you’re after a place where 12 different waiters will gush over you, calling you “sir” and “madam” and exclaiming about your youth and beauty – well, this is not that place. But, again, everything is done for the comfort of the customer. For example, the waiters here habitually ask about the pace you would like your meal. Perhaps you are in a bit of a hurry to get to a show at Lincoln Center? Or, on the other hand, perhaps this is your 20th anniversary, and you want everything slow, relaxed, with time to talk. They will accommodate you, and do it in a way that isn’t obsequious, simply efficient.
I believe there are two types of high-end restaurant. One sort exists to serve the chef. Their purpose is to serve the best food they possibly can, and everything else is sacrificed for that. The other exists to serve the customers, and to make them as happy as possible. Telepan is firmly in this second group. One person wants a tasting menu, the other a la carte? Not a problem.
Drink at Telepan
Of course, the usual drink with food of this sort is wine. I like wine, but am not a connoisseur. If you are a wine buff, you might want to peruse the wine list. When we’ve dined here, we’ve asked for advice. And, unlike some high-end places, they don’t make you feel like a hick if you don’t want to spend a fortune on a bottle.
Food at Telepan
I am somewhat handicapped here, because the menu changes several times a year, and I have not eaten here with the Spring 2010 menu. In the past, everything my wife or I has eaten here has been outstanding. Based on my past experiences, I think the following would be particularly good:
Appetizers: Vegetable soup, croque madame (the chef, Bill Telepan, is something of an egg-maven).
Mid-course: Pea carbonara, pea pancakes (it is spring, after all)
Entree: Heritage pork, spring paella
Prices at Telepan
This is not cheap food. But it is, I think, good value. There are four-course and five-course tasting menus ($55 and $65 per person, respectively). A la carte, the appetizers are mostly about $15, the mid-courses about $20 and the entrees about $30.
The chef’s son is in the same (public) school as my younger son, and each year, he donates a dinner prepared in your home, for (I think) 8 people. It typically goes for many thousands of dollars.