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Telepan or Town?


davidbdesilva
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The setting: coming in from Philadelphia for a romantic post V-day weekend (15th and 16th) to celebrate many things with my lovely wife. Dinner @ 8:00 before seeing Freddy Cole at Dizzy's for an 11:30 show. Want a great meal in a beautiful and romantic setting, with the emphasis being on the food first and foremost (but the wife likes stylish settings too).

So which fits the bill better, Telepan or Town? I make a decision (e.g.Telepan) and then see negative posts (elsewhere) and second guess myself. So NYers, help me make up my mind and get this right so I can be comfortable with my decision (and stop obsessing). Please don't suggest another restaurant because you'll only confuse me more (and yes, I have checked out places on the UWS like Compass, which seems inferior to these two and Dovetail, which has no openings for 8:00). Thank you (yet again) for helping me get this right!

"Nutrirsi di cibi prelibati e trasformare una necessita in estasi."

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I know you don't want other restaurant recommendations, but as a New Yorker I have to tell you that your choices just aren't optimal. Telepan isn't that good. Town is tired.

I'd recommend Eleven Madison Park. Or the Modern.

I'm sure others will have other recommendations. Please consider them. Don't do yourself a disservice.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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I'm undoubtedly one of the negative posts you read about Telepan. We ate airline food there.

But I would like to second, and third The Modern. Word to the wise on two counts. (one, avoid Telepan, two, go to The Modern.)

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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I liked Telepan a lot both times I've been there, brunch and dinner, but its scarcely a setting for a romantic dinner. I don't know Town or the Modern, but I'll second, third, and fourth Eleven Madison Park. The setting is sumptuous and the food is so fine.

I'm undoubtedly one of the negative posts you read about Telepan.  We ate airline food there.

But I would like to second, and third The Modern.  Word to the wise on two counts.  (one, avoid Telepan, two, go to The Modern.)

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Town is a much, much (have I emphasized it enough?) more romantic setting than Telepan, and it's a better restaurant too.

I agree with the others that if I could only have one expensive romantic meal in New York, Town isn't the one I'd pick. But it's certainly a very good restaurant, and if it comes down to one or the other, Town is it.

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if it has to be one of those two, Town. (Telepan is a much different place.)

but why those two? is it just about location? it looks like you're looking primarily at UWS places...why? that's a culinary black hole. an extra five minutes by cab opens up a lot of possibilities (the Modern to start).

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Probably either is better than the the other choices. The former, obviously more casual and sexier, the latter more elegant and suited to a celebratory meal.

Midtown/Uptown you have Modern, GR@London/Maze, Picholine, but I have a hard time believing you can celebrate anything there but being younger than the average diner, even if you're well past "middle-aged". Or if you really, really like purple.

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Wow, definitely strong opinions AGAINST both places! OK, I'll listen. Actually, we are staying two nights and eating at Bouley on Saturday night as our big celebratory meal. So, I didn't want to bust the bank on both nights and eat somewhere less expensive Friday night before the show at Dizzy's. We have eaten at EMP a few years ago and I hear rave reviews now. Seems like a lot of people like the Modern too. Last thing I want to do is have a meal Friday night that istoo similar to Bouley the next night. I'll see if there are any openings at The Modern or maybe even EMP. Any more suggestsions I guess I am open to now since the two I was considering don't sound like good choices. Thank you!

"Nutrirsi di cibi prelibati e trasformare una necessita in estasi."

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Agree that Telepan or Town will not be remarkable; in fact, yes, Town is quite tired. The last time I went there the crown roast of pork we had was so salty we could not eat it.

You're much better of either going to The Modern or Eleven Madison Park (actually, in reverse order).

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I'd have to agree that if you want to eat on the UWS then you should really consider Picholine or you could always go to Cafe Gray and then have the shortest walk possible to your show.

While I've had good food at Telepan, the service is inexcuseable. So many people on the floor yet tables sit with empty water glasses and plates don't get cleared in an aceptable amount of time. And Town just isn't worth it.

Somewhere I really love and think is really underrated at not too far is Trestle on 10th. Trestle is on 24th street and 10th avenue. The food is really good and they have a stellar well chosen wine list. The service is good and while can be unimpressive certainly can't be faulted. I'd have dinner there.

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Well this will teach me to listen to people from that "other board" where both Telepan and Town are generally lauded! I've listened to you and decided that, if we're gonna do NYC then we should do it right. I made a reservation for Eleven Madison Park for Friday evening @ 6:30. Now we have two great meals lined up, EMP on Friday and Bouley on Saturday. I am interested in comparing the two and seeing which is better (it'll probably be that they are both great in different ways).

We have eaten at EMP about 3 years ago and remember having a great meal. The sommelier recommeded individual wine pairings with each course rather than a bottle of something, and these turned out to be fantastic matches to the food (he even would pour us other wines, at no extra charge, to see how we liked them with the food as well). Needless to say he was very helpful. Up to this point, EMP and Blue Hill have been our favorite NYC meals. From what I hear, EMP is now even better with a recent chef change?

We will have a couple of hours to kill between our meal (ending at 8:30?) and the how at Dizzy's (11:00). Any ideas, romantic or otherwise, are welcome. Thanks again NY egulleters, you have helped me make this weekend extra special!

Edited by davidbdesilva (log)

"Nutrirsi di cibi prelibati e trasformare una necessita in estasi."

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Depending on how much of a blowout you do at EMP (the gourmand menu, for instance, although I actually prefer ordering a la carte there), your meal may not wrap up before 9-something, actually... :smile:

As to killing time between: Well, IMO, nothing is more romantic than an arm-in-arm walk (you could just head along Madison Park and up 5th Ave), should the weather hold! You could even weave through Central Park's southern end. If you'd prefer to perch somewhere, there's always the Library Bar at the Hudson Hotel (which is good for an after-dinner drink, provided you don't actually ask them to mix you a cocktail; just stick with a decent brandy, whisky, port, or the like). I'm not a fan of the Time-Warner Center, but the bar at the Mandarin Oriental does have a nice view of the park, and might make sense for a drink prior to heading over to the show.

If you're a cocktail person, the only vaguely decent destination near you post-dinner would be the Flatiron Lounge (19th btw 5th & 6th Aves), but it's not what I consider "romantic" and it will royally suck on a Friday at 9-10 PM.

[EDIT: It'll be interesting to hear your take on dinner. I am a giant fan of Bouley, but I differ greatly with several other posters on these forums in that respect. My personal recommendation there is to go with the menu spontanée, which has yielded for me some of my favorite meals in NYC, even within the past couple of years.]

Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"
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So it seems that you've veered from your original goal of enjoying a more affordable, more casual meal. That's fine, but just go in knowing that EMP has shed any bit of rusticity--down the iron chandeliers--since your last visit. It is undoubtedly a fine dining restaurant now and certainly one of the city's best. I actually feel like Mayur is in the minority here in preferring to order a la carte. If you read the reports here, the majority of the most glowing seem to focus on the Menu Gourmand. It is quite expensive now, however, at $145ish. Still, I think it's worth it and more enjoyable than the offerings from more storied NYC restaurants, including Bouley.

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Thank you Bryan, I truly enjoy reading your posts and comments, you seem to have a deep knowledge of the NYC dining scene as well as food in general. So, I will ask a follow-up question to you and everyone else who have helped so much. My wife loves to eat but is a petite and slender woman (all of 4'11"). When we dine out and eat the typical 3 courses at a fine restauant along with a bottle of wine to share, that is often a lot of food for her (sometimes too much) and she does not enjoy (actually hates) leaving a restaurant feeling overly stuffed (and I dislike it as well). Thus, I think the gourmand tasting menu at EMP might be to much food? I was thinking more of their 3 course price fixe ($82 I believe) instead. From looking at their menu it didn't look like you could order a la carte, am I wrong? As for Bouley, I am debating between the 5 course tasting menu and a la carte.

What are your thoughts about this? I would think that 3 courses at EMP would be plenty but that the gourmand might be too much? How about the 5 courses at Bouley? I know that these will be more european sized courses at both restaurants, which is what we prefer, and I know, contrary to reports I hear at times, that we will not leave either place hungry. I just don't want to overdo it.. Thanks again for any feedback you can provide. If you ever venture into Philly, I would be more than glad to steer you in the right direction!

"Nutrirsi di cibi prelibati e trasformare una necessita in estasi."

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I don't think I've ever ordered from the prix fixe menu at EMP since Chef Humm took over. In the past there were reports of people feeling that the portions off the prix fixe menu were rather small. I can't recall if those reports were from anyone I know and trust, but it's something to consider. As a result of some of that feedback, they instituted the four-course option now seen on the menu.

The Gourmand is a lot of (delicious) food. When I was last at the restaurant in December and had the Gourmand menu, I too was with a 4' 11" dining companion (not my usual 5' companion who packs it away) and she was overwhelmed. I think the best bet for you might be ordering the three-course option for your wife and perhaps ordering the four-course option for yourself.

The lame thing about EMP's prix fixe menu is that there are only three appetizers--and one is a salad so that hardly counts--that don't carry a supplement, which obviously isn't very many. I'm not sure if you can order from the "Fish and Crustaceans" section for your first course. It's worth asking about in advance.

The five-course option at Bouley should be fine for you. It's more or less his classic dishes, but if you've never been before some are really, really good. The phyllo-crusted scallop in ocean broth, the Return from Chiang Mai, etc. It will be a good amount of food, but if you're celebrating a special occasion just take your time and enjoy the room.

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So it seems that you've veered from your original goal of enjoying a more affordable, more casual meal.  That's fine, but just go in knowing that EMP has shed any bit of rusticity--down the iron chandeliers--since your last visit.  It is undoubtedly a fine dining restaurant now and certainly one of the city's best.  I actually feel like Mayur is in the minority here in preferring to order a la carte.  If you read the reports here, the majority of the most glowing seem to focus on the Menu Gourmand.  It is quite expensive now, however, at $145ish.  Still, I think it's worth it and more enjoyable than the offerings from more storied NYC restaurants, including Bouley.

I haven't had the Menu Gourmand in its last couple of iterations; the one currently featured seems much more attractive to me than the two I've had. On my last visits, I switched to asking chef Humm to assemble a meal out of four courses (plus the amuses and mignardises that the kitchen sent out), and I found that superior to the previous two visits on which I did the Gourmand.

(Aside: As to Bouley: I've found that the kitchen really works to amaze if you just give over control of your meal to them, which is why I recommend the menu spontanée over the 5- and 7- course menu offerings. But as you said, I seem to be in the minority on a number of fronts here. :wink:)

David: Given your stated preference, I might consider just doing as I did if you're unwilling to commit to the blowout that is the Menu Gourmand, and asking the chef to assemble you something nice. The 5-course at Bouley is, as Bryan said, a nice introduction to the kitchen's "greatest hits," and I would *not* commit to the menu spontanée if you or your S.O. have light appetites.

Also, as Bryan said, EMP is easily as formal as Bouley these days, both in terms of setting and service, so be prepared. I'm not fond of the room myself, but at that hour, it may be a bit more convivial than I've experienced it (I've generally sat down to eat around 8:30-8:45, and the restaurant seems to empty a bit earlier than its counterparts at this level).

Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"
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(Aside: As to Bouley: I've found that the kitchen really works to amaze if you just give over control of your meal to them, which is why I recommend the menu spontanée over the 5- and 7- course menu offerings. But as you said, I seem to be in the minority on a number of fronts here. :wink:)

David: Given your stated preference, I might consider just doing as I did if you're unwilling to commit to the blowout that is the Menu Gourmand, and asking the chef to assemble you something nice. The 5-course at Bouley is, as Bryan said, a nice introduction to the kitchen's "greatest hits," and I would *not* commit to the menu spontanée if you or your S.O. have light appetites.

Ay, not to throw a wrench in this Bouley love, but my dinner there last year (which I left up to the chef, and in which he trotted out some of his "all-time hits" (his menu doesn't change very frequently, as far as I know)) was one of the most deflating meals I've had.

On the other hand, my http://www.flickr.com/photos/ulteriorepicu...57600027140960/Menu Gourmande at EMP was probably one of the best meals I have had in the recent couple of years.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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