I turn the corner from Colombus ave onto 69th street and I feel like I’m in Grammercy. I think there’s a light out at the end of the street that is giving Telepan a more neighborhoody vibe, but the rowhouses and ivy might have something to do with it, too. Andrea has arrived and is seated, and while H&H has its merits, I had no doubt she was anticipating this meal a great deal more than the former.
Bill greets us at the table asking for menu preferences and allergies before whisking us off on this most local gastronomical tour. The restaurant prides itself on using local, organic, and in-season ingredients in many of its dishes (I was excited to see quince for dessert). The few places I’ve been that have professed this, I hadn’t known until after the meal, and I can’t say I did a goo job at noticing, but my mind wasn’t on food criticism at those times.
Bill started Andrea with a House-smoked brook trout on a buckwheat pancake (pic) and me with their Egg-in-a-hole with Hen Of The Woods mushrooms (above). I’d never tried smoked trout before, but I’m a huge almandine fan, so we were in the ballpark. I didn’t know what was supposed to be underneath the trout, but looking at it, I expected it to be crispy. The smooth buckwheat was a better combination than what I’d imagined; I’m still having trouble coming up with the exact words to describe it; even with the coarse grind of the buckwheat, it was still almost creamy next to the trout.
As I write more of this, I’m realizing that there was nothing superfluous on any plate or in any glass. I tried the egg-in-a-hole and was happy with the earthy maitake mushroom (wikipedia), but wasn’t blown away. My next bite was swept in balsamic vinegar and the rest of the flavors came to life. This was the first food epiphany I had eating at Telepan, but the second one just blew my mind.
I wasn’t paying attention to the wine pairings so much until the one I to complement the Duck and foie gras ravioli (above). Andrea took a bite and was pleased with the rich, significant foie gras flavor; I had the same bite and felt a bit let down for not appreciating it as much as she had.
Then I took a sip of the paired wine and had another bite.
Never since the first time I paired port with chocolate have I felt a more defining change of flavor by way of a spirit. The sommelier is a mad genius. It might have been the tartness of the Lobster Bolognese (pic) that was Andrea’s mid course plate that confused my palate, or it may just have been a different kind of bite, but I doubt it. I only had one bite left, but I wanted Andrea to try it, bookended by sips of the wine. She did, and she agreed that it was quite a definitive change.
For the main course, Andrea got the Maine sea scallops with manilla clams, chorizo, fennel, and risotto. When I tasted it, I immediately thought jambalaya. It had all the main characters – seafood, sausage, and spice. I only got one bite; when I looked up from cutting portions from my entrÃ©e to share, hers was all but gone.
Heritage Pork, I dub thee the pork flight; a nose to tail American version of my earlier experience at 15 East. Tenderloin, shoulder, house made sausage, belly, and to top it off, the most decadent pork cracklins I’ve ever had the luxury of putting in my mouth. If pigs were cognizant of their place on the food chain, they would hope to have a chance of ending up on a plate like this when they met their end. You could taste the care that went into this plating; the sausage paired with the sauerkraut, the potatoes and the shoulder, the loin and the applesauce … if I ever want a lesson in how to taste food, Bill is the guy I am going to ask to teach me.
Sixth course (omg). Telepan dropped the dessert bomb on us today. I have to say, If you were making a home-made Butterfinger, and you were sparing no expense to make it, that guy in the middle of the crunchy peanut butter and milk chocolate gianduja (left) is what you would end up with. A layer of chocolate on chocolate mousse over a peanut buttery graham-ish base; delightful. I either didn’t eat it with enough of the huckleberry gelÃ©e to get a true PB&J taste or it was overpowered by chocolate. I don’t know if that’s exactly what they were going for, that’s a tad unfair to say. My favorite dessert by a long shot was the Quince Granita Parfait (pic). Shaved ice, yogurt cream, toasted almonds, and quince all soaked in a prosecco. I could have eaten ten of these. I would say this was a great summer dessert, but quince’s season spans more fall months.
I only have a few bites of the Brandy bread pudding (pic with cherries. After eating all day, a rich, carby dessert, wasn’t exactly my cup of tea (although a cup of tea would have been welcomed with open arms). I’d just had the plebeian Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding, at Ale Mary’s in Baltimore, so I knew this one would be doughy and decadent. The sweetness in this one was a bit more understated (obviously), balanced. The cherries were a nice touch to lighten it up.
Full. Satisfied. Amazed. We loved our first visit to Telepan. Have the Heritage Pork and don’t forget the wine pairings.
The IRL Arts Foundation and The Wandering Foodie thank Telepan for providing this meal.
72 W 69th St
New York, NY 10023