Telepan And My Poached Egg Memories

Telepan is an unassuming sign on the UWS that houses one of the best lunch deals in NYC and gave me a Proustian memory.
The chef, Bill Telepan, is a classically trained chef who worked at some of the best restaurants in the world before opening his eponymous restaurant. His restaurant focuses on local, seasonal food and offers a 2 course lunch prix fixe for $24.

The dining room is sedate and spacious. Though not exciting, it is warm and comfortable, with small banquettes perfect for even one person to sit and have lunch with a book.

House Smoked Brook Trout with Celery Root Blini and Green Apple Sour Cream

Totally different than the ethereal smoked whitefish salad at Barney Greengrass, this was more refined and complex, The bite-size slices of trout were only gently smoked – just enough to cook it, not enough to impart any heavy, charred taste. It was citrusy and tart, bringing another facet to the gentle salinity of the trout. It was slightly “fishy” in the way that lox is – not overtly seafoody or at all off-tasting, just bursting with clean, oceanic flavor. The green apple sour cream was a bit too sweet and viscous, but the celery root blini was a revelation. Like a latke made with mashed potatoes, it was golden brown on the outside and smooth and creamy on the inside. It was incredibly buttery, paring well with the light trout, and had the distinctly verdant taste of celery root. Can’t wait to try my own riff on it at Hannukah time with celery root-potato latkes.

Poached Egg and Frisee Salad with Wild Mushrooms and Mustard Vinaigrette

The salad itself was delicious. Slightly bitter, crispy, curly frisee was liberally doused in a bracing, tangy vinaigrette redolent of white vinegar and strong mustard. The mushrooms were warm and wilted the lettuce gently, bringing out the earthiness of the greens. The mushrooms themselves were meaty and rich, lightened up with the addition of fresh herbs. 
Then there is the egg. 
This is going to sound dumb but…this is the best poached egg I have had since I was a 3 year old kid. When my mother was pregnant with my little sister and could only stomach white foods, she would have a poached egg on toast every morning, and I remember crawling into bed and eating it with her. I have had a million poached eggs since then, but this was the first one that made me so distinctly smell my mother’s perfume and see her 1980’s flowered bedspread. The yolk was incredibly buttery and rich, the white was just barely congealed and the taste was just eggy. No herbs, no sauces to get in the way. It was just a lovingly poached egg that reminded me both of my youth, and why food is powerful. Food is not just sustenance and it is not just hedonistic pleasure. It is a bridge to our past and a connection to people who love us. I need to be reminded of this every now and then, and a simple poached egg did it for me.

Telepan had excellent service, excellent prices, and excellent food. It isn’t the most exciting spot in town, and is more for PTA parents than cool club kids, but that is part of its charm. It is unassuming, unpretentious, and totally delicious. And it sent me back to one of my sweetest memories. That added bonus wasn’t even mentioned on the prix fixe.
Telepan on Urbanspoon


  1. Feisty Foodie says:

    I just wrote a loving tribute to a poached egg I had on Friday night. You won't read it until December 7th, but I wrote it. During that same meal, I had to explain Proust and his madelines to my dining companion while I described the madelines at Daniel to him. We are meant to be.

    I miss you.

  2. Fritos and Foie Gras says:

    @Feisty-we are kindred spirits. Totes.