Telepan - Winter 2007

This is about the third (or is it fourth?) time I've been to Telepan for lunch and each time has been a satisfying experience. I've tried new things just about each time and therefore have more/less covered the menu from stem to stern. All of it is good though rarely is any of it ever exciting. So to see crabcake poboy sliders on the menu with spicy cabbage/slaw and spicy housemade potato chips - I finally got excited. And there's much to be happy here. Everything worked, and as usual, was cooked to perfection. I'd give these a visit again.

The apple fritter was also very good. A bit rich and certainly very filling - a great guilty pleasure to top off the meal.


Stone Park Cafe, December 9, 2007

Stone Park Cafe
Brooklyn, NY
This was a dinner to celebrate our friend Allison's birthday. I was lucky enough to find parking right next to the restaurant, which put me in a terrific frame of mind. The restaurant, at first glance is charming and although it is definitely more Brooklyn than Manhattan in style, it could have easily have been in Atlanta or Charlotte.
We sat at several 2 tops put together against a wall across from the bar. My seat was against the wall, and the three of us that sat against the wall were blasted with intense heat while my wife, sitting across from me, was chilly. Note to owners: your heating setup is drastically flawed.
Service was pretty poor. Our waiter, clearly new to the game (or just poorly trained over the years) wasn't confident in reading specials but to his credit, was really nice and tried hard. Can't fault him for that. I can, however, fault the girl that took our drink orders. It took at least 15 minutes to get my Old Fashion despite several re-requests for it and being about 2 1/2 feet away from the bar. The pill-popping (true, it could've just been Advil) bartender is really the one to blame. She failed miserably at making a basic martini, not once, but twice. Or you could blame the kooky managerial staff who sort of just loiter between the bar and kitchen without really doing anything except get in the way.
Alas, the cooking, or at least most of it, was really good. I started with the frisee salad that had the usual ingredients but with some tweaks. The soft boiled egg was crusted with either panko or bread crumbs and, while not nearly as good as the one at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, it was pretty good. The frisee and dressing was fine; the lardons were kind of scraggly and not the best it could've been and the potato cubes/home fries were unnecessary.

The somewhat inaccurately named Lamb Cassoulet included, as seen below, two chops, a curl of sausage and, unseen in the photo, shredded bits of lamb among the beans. Everything was good, but unfortunately wasn't a traditional cassoulet as I'd hoped for...but this was very good and I'd recommend it. The portion size was good as well. At first I thought it small, but by the end, I was stuffed.

I wasn't in the mood for dessert, but Danna ordered the chocolate brioche pudding with caramel ice cream. This was fairly disappointing. The brioche lost its tell-tale deliciousness in what seemed like overcooked chocolate. Presentation was pretty weak too. Overall, not a good dish.

I like this restaurant as a local place, but it certainly is not a destination for anyone outside of Brooklyn. I'd probably give the original Blue Ribbon a shot before going back here...and would certainly try to get a table at Al di La first as well. Pretty good, but has some things it needs to work on. Fortunately the cooking is mostly solid - and they left us alone so that we could enjoy each other's company for 2+ hours.


Five Guys, Mee Noodles, Wondee Siam II and Joe's Shanghai

In search of some cheaper lunch options near work, I found my way to Five Guys, Mee Noodles, Wondee Siam II and Joe's Shanghai recently.

Five Guys

The burgers are pretty well known, but I guess I didn't know enough about them when I ordered my regular cheeseburger and found myself biting into a double decker. The burger, despite being cooked "well done" by order of the owner, wasn't dry and had some flavor to it. Not the best burger - not even a contender - but good nonetheless and is a better option, in my opinion, than the overrated burger at burger joint at Le Parker Meridien.

Mee Noodles

I had the pan-fried "meat" dumplings in clear soup ($4.80) and was pleasantly surprised at how far a five-spot can go (plus tip of course). The dumplings were porky and sort of what you'd expect - except you get quite a few (6) and they are on the larger side. The soup itself was quite good on a cold day and not as salty as I'd feared. Decent enough for a return visit.

Wondee Siam II

To get my Thai fix, I visited the 9th Ave. outpost of Wondee Siam. I'm infatuated by Sripraphai's version of Penang Curry and have yet to find one elsewhere that is as good or better. Unfortunately, Wondee's doesn't come close either, but I do like their version - especially because of the pineapple that's added to the dish. It gives it a very different flavor and cuts the heat (of which was fairly minor) nicely. Service was pretty bad and the decor is hideous, but I'd likely do take out again from here instead of Pam Real Thai, another local option.

Joe's Shanghai

I'll never forget the first time I had the famous soup dumplings at the Pell Street location. They were truly a unique experience at the time and, having been a few years, were due another go. So I walked over to the midtown branch and found myself in another ratty looking room with fairly brusque but not necessarily mean, service. I placed my order: crab and pork soup buns and an order of the pan-fried, pork dumplings (and an order of the spicy shredded beef to go for dinner later that night). The soup buns were as good as I remember them - though more expensive and of fewer numbers per order (6 compared to 8). The pork dumplings were actually not good at all and my dinner later that night was simply passable if maybe a little too tough.


Blue Ribbon Sushi & Grill, November 30, 2007

Blue Ribbon Sushi & Grill

I'm sure I've said this before, but there are some dishes I simply look forward to having at specific times of the year. And I often like to have them at different places for comparison's sake. For example, bone marrow. The last time I ordered the dish as an appetizer was the first time - at Blue Ribbon on Sullivan Street. It was served with an oxtail marmalade and a perfect bread and was, by all accounts, memorable. I've been itching to have that dish again or something similar for several years, although one could say my annual ordering of osso buco satisfies both needs (the bone marrow part, and the annual dish thing).

So after seeing the band Ween play a rocking concert at Terminal 5, I made my way back near my office to try out the newly opened Blue Ribbon Sushi & Grill, and more importantly, their bone marrow dish. This version was cut horizontally into two long pieces instead of the vertical tri-cuts at the SoHo outpost. And there wasn't any accompaniment to the marrow either, though the same delicious bread was in attendance. Overall - very good, but I felt like something was missing...maybe it was the small amount of marrow on the bones? In any event, this was fine and the pork shumai I ordered was equally adequate but not outstanding. I ordered just one piece of sushi - amberjack - and was disappointed with the size and lack of flavor in the fish and rice. Blase. I'll probably return for lunch, but it isn't the great place I'd hope it'd be just yet. Maybe some happy hour cocktails there with some coworkers will help shine the light on this place.