Yesterday, my friend and I took advantage of NYC Restaurant Week to try some food that would normally be out of our price-range. I had heard of Restaurant Week before in various cities but had never gotten the chance to participate. Before deciding, we did some serious research on restaurants offering deals. Participating restaurants offer a $25 prix-fixe lunch menu, but you have to be sure that getting lunch at said restaurant is actually a good deal. Unfortunately, I came across several places whose normal lunch menus cost $20 but were still doing the $25 deal. Needless to say we automatically avoided those places. The other deciding factor was the number of options available. Most places have three choices each for appetizer and entree, and usually two or three dessert options. The restaurant we ended up choosing had almost twice the number of meal options: Telepan, an Upper West Side restaurant serving “New American” cuisine cooked up by Chef Bill Telepan.
The dining experience was very interesting. My friend and I went for lunch but were running late and didn’t arrive until almost 2:00. Our reservation was for 1:30 and we were worried about missing it, after reading about packed tables at other restaurant week establishments. This was not the case at Telepan, and I’m not sure if that was a good sign or a bad sign. It may just have been that way because normal lunch hour (let’s says 12:00-1:00) had started almost two hours earlier. We found ourselves the youngest diners by far–everyone else seemed to be upwards of 60, the “ladies who lunch” type.
I guess we, as 21-year-olds, were a little out of place. No one else checked their phone (smart or dumb) while eating or tried to take surreptitious photos of their food. What felt the strangest to us was probably our silverware being removed after each course, replaced by a waiter who carried it over on a plate laid with a white cloth napkin.
The restaurant’s exterior is rather unassuming, located on the first floor of a typical New York brownstone apartment building. The interior is painted a light gray-green and the lights are kept dim. Some of the tables are at booths; others are freestanding with chairs. We were seated near the entrance so I didn’t get to take in the full atmosphere. As we finished eating (sometime between 3:00 and 3:30), waiters began bringing out candles in glass holders for the later meals.
Now, the food. I ordered the chilled corn soup, the burger, and the Telepan S’more. All were very good, though as I don’t usually eat beef burgers I’m not sure what a real burger connoisseur would say. Starting with the soup: I’ve always been wary of chilled soups, they seem to me to defeat the purpose of soup. I was very happy I ordered it, though. It had a real light corn flavor and was served with a small portion of corn and bean salad, which was slightly spicy and gave a nice flavor and texture contrast to the creamy soup. I forgot to photograph it.
The burger was HUGE. It came with both fries and onion rings (called a “volcano” at Telepan). I asked for it medium, and that’s how it came. It was well-season and I didn’t need to add salt or pepper. The bun was also high quality and stood up to the burger’s size. The fries were crispy (which I like), though the onion rings wouldn’t have been hurt by an extra minute or two in the fryer.
The dessert, the Telepan S’More, was definitely the easiest choice to make from the menu. It consists of a dark chocolate brownie topped with a marshmallow, a scoop of graham cracker ice cream, and a thin square of dark chocolate. The ice cream was definitely my favorite part of the concoction–but I love graham crackers. All the components went well together though as is the case (I think) with most fancy desserts, it was a little difficult to figure out how to get part of everything in one bite!
All in all, I’d say it was $25 well spent. Just for comparison, the soup alone would’ve normally cost $12 and the dessert $14. The burger isn’t normally served at dinner, and there is no regular lunch menu online. But even without knowing the price of the burger, I know I ended up saving! My friend got the romaine salad, the zucchini & gnocchi saldi, and the s’more and was very happy with all her choices as well.
New York City’s Summer 2013 Restaurant Week ends tomorrow, August 16, so if you’re in the area and want to take advantage of the deals, you only have a short time left to do so!
Question: Have you ever been to Restaurant Week, in New York City or elsewhere? What was your experience?