To dine at Telepan, on the Upper West Side, is to celebrate the flavors of the season. And all this week, Telepan celebrates spring with an exceptional vegetarian menu ($75) as a part of their May Harvest Week. Skeptical of vegetarian menus? I can promise you, you won't miss the meat.
Everything in this menu was bought locally, either from a farmers' market or a direct trade with local farmers; this five-course special highlights asparagus, zucchini, mushrooms, peas, and strawberries.
The asparagus was served with pistachio and lemon, a light start to the meal, followed by the homage to fresh spring peas with ravioli with marscapone and basil. The next two were the standouts: stuffed zucchini blossoms were a burst of flavor with the Milanese-style zucchini and the white beans, and the mushroom dish was served with warm toast and cream. The mushrooms were incredibly flavorful, dense in a good way, and I could have eaten the cream sauce like soup. Finally, a strawberry baked Alaska that was lightly golden and delicious—if a heavy ending to an already filling meal.
An optional accompaniment to this menu is the wine pairing ($135 for the menu and wine pairing). If you feel like a splurge, I highly suggest it—two whites, a rose, a red, and a fruity burst to end on. When prompted, the sommelier had all sorts to tell about each wine. The Pink Floyd rose, for instance, comes from a secluded wine estate in Provence, the chateau of which is now owned by Brad Pitt. There is a recording studio on the property—hence the name of the wine. Quentin Tarantino, post-Inglorious Bastards, has commented on the steady flow of Pink Floyd within those castle walls.
But the most enjoyable part of this meal was the evident spirit of celebration with which it was created; the comfortable, classy Telepan dining room was just the cherry on top.
In June, Telepan will create a week-long menu based off of the meat and produce of one farmer, Guy Jones—more evidence that the seasons and locally grown food are truly a source of inspiration for Bill Telepan, the owner and chef.
Before we left, our waiter asked if there was anything else we desired. "Oh no, not at all," we responded in a post-meal slur. The waiter smiled and said, "Understood. I know what we do to people here."