Chef Bill Telepan - along with partner Jimmy Nicholas - opened his eponymous restaurant in 2005 after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, working with many renowned, international chefs, garnering success as an executive chef, and publishing Inspired by Ingredients. Many accolades later, Telepan retains its community ties, sourcing locally and being "neighborhood-centric." In addition, through the nonprofit Wellness in the Schools (WITS), Bill devises and executes nutritional cafeteria menus.
The interior of Telepan consists of an attractive bar, inviting booth-style seating, nook-like areas for intimacy, and a semi-private dining room. An impressive wine cellar draws attention to lesser-known origins, celebrating a different region each month. And the tastefully simple exposed brick, subtle green tints, and wooden accents highlight the seasonally-rotated, close-up photographs of luscious produce by Quentin Bacon.
Most of the ingredients on the menu are sourced from the Union Square Greenmarket and local farmers. According to Director of Marketing and Communications Jacqueline Hensel, "Bill was doing farm-to-table before farm-to-table was a thing." In lieu of fancy names or feigned trendiness are consistent seasonality and fresh flavor for guests to experience. The coveted pea pancakes - that only appear on the menu for a short while - are so eagerly anticipated by frequent diners that they make reservations weeks in advance to be certain that they will not miss the opportunity to savor every bite.
One of the most valued opinions comes from a strong-minded older woman who has been eating at the restaurant for years. If she approves a new dish that Bill has created, it goes straight onto the menu. After all, as Chef Telepan explained, "it is all about the customer." He is cooking for everyone who walks through that door, which included the Sideways team when we sat for lunch one summer afternoon.
We started off with refreshing chilled tomato and red pepper soup, a famed house-smoked brook trout, and a beet salad that highlighted the root vegetable in sweet, sour and savory variations. Unable to see the robiolla neatly baked into my tortellini, I was pleasantly surprised with each cheesy bite. The others enjoyed an elegantly cut grilled hanger steak plated atop a mound of potatoes and spinach, and a playful burger dish, garnished with all the fixings and served alongside a volcano of onion rings and french fries.
Pastry Chef Larissa Raphael's desserts were no less inspired. The moist coconut cake was complemented with smooth whipped cream, the strawberry granita parfait fizzled when introduced to a shot of prosecco, and the peanut butter and chocolate gianduja with peanut brittle ice cream and huckleberry gelee was a triangular love affair of compatible tastes.
Tavern on the Green, a restaurant that opened in 1934, has not forgotten its origins as a home to the ewes and rams that grazed in Sheep Meadow. Images of sheep are everywhere - carved into the fireplace, decorating the menu, holding up the table in the lobby. In 2010, the building ceased to be a restaurant for a brief stint, serving instead as a visitor's center and gift shop. After being taken over by partners, Jim Caiola and David Salama, and a lengthy renovation, the Tavern made a culinary return with a rustic and seasonal menu. I have eaten here on a number of occasions since its debut in the spring of 2014, but strolling in and out of the various rooms with members of the Manhattan Sideways team was a whole different experience. None had ever been, and I was amused and pleased with their reactions to this iconic Central Park locale. The Tavern contains three main areas. In the front dining room, the vast space resembles a summer hunting lodge. A large, circular bar takes up the center with a rotating carousel of gilded horses above it, and mammoth roof beams run along the ceiling like an old mead hall. Separated from the outdoors by a large glass wall, the second dining area is far more modern with creams, ivories and a collection of glass chandeliers. And though it was a hot day, a few brave souls ate outside in the exterior dining space, under umbrellas and large, mid-century street-lamps. The other side of the building features a beer garden with its own menu of simple bar fare. Finally, for the thousands of people who jog, bike or are simply wandering in the park, there is now a delightful little take-away window called "Green-to-Go. " It offers both a breakfast and lunch menu, and tables to sit down, relax and enjoy either a cup of coffee, a bowl of oatmeal, or a variety of wraps and salads in the afternoon. If nothing else, it is a terrific spot to watch both tourists and New Yorkers passing by.
With its prime 72nd Street location, I have passed by Malachy's Donegal Inn almost daily, but had never stepped inside. I was always waiting for the day when I would be working on this street, so that I could go in with the Manhattan Sideways team and have a good time. And that is exactly what happened. "Looks can be deceiving, believe me, " owner Bill Raftery immediately said when we popped in during the lunch hour in the middle of the week. He continued to speak lovingly and confidently of his pub, which has been in business since 1989. "This bar has the best pub food of any like it in the area, " Bill stated. Looking around, we were pleased to find the old wooden bar packed from end to end. According to Bill, most of his lunch customers are crew guys from local theaters like The Beacon and Lincoln Center, and "they are loyal. " Engaging in conversation with more than a dozen men and women, we learned a lot about Bill, and the warm environment that he has built. As Bill continued to serve people from behind the bar, he spoke of how much the neighborhood has changed since he purchased Malachy's. On Saint Patrick's Day, the area used to be blanketed in green bar-goers. "You could not move in this neighborhood the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. There's nothing like seeing them blow up those balloons. " Hikes in parking and travel costs have drastically reduced business on both of those days, he lamented. Still, he brightened up when pointing to the crowded bar, and said how his regulars are certainly devoted customers. Quite busy, he told us to stop by for a drink sometime soon, and headed into the kitchen.
I walked into Ribbon, the new dining experience from Bruce and Eric Bromberg, on their "friends and family night" and was immediately impressed. One of the waiters, Alex Bar-av, explained to me the history of the building. It used to be the Hotel Franconia, built in the 1920s by Arnold Rothstein, a famous Jewish gangster best remembered for "fixing" the 1919 World Series. The Hotel Franconia became known as the only place where people could drink openly during the Prohibition, since Rothstein paid off the cops. To celebrate this quirky heritage, Ribbon's 200 seat restaurant has a private room called the "Arnold Rothstein Room. " Softly glowing cases of whiskey bottles on the walls add to the speakeasy-like feeling in the dark-wood room while also highlighting Ribbon's expansive whiskey collection (there are ninety-five types of whiskey on the menu). When I returned to the restaurant as an invited guest a few days later, Alex took me to see the darkened strip on the floor underneath a row of tables where the old bar used to be. He explained that when they gutted the space, the builders found the Hotel Franconia's original wood floor. The faded frescoes on the wall, now covered in glass, are also from the 1924 hotel. Alex is not alone in his in-depth knowledge. He told me that the employees are constantly being quizzed on their ability to give the facts to customers, not just about the food, but about Ribbon's story. Since my personal visits with Alex, I have had several terrific dinners at Ribbon, but it was especially nice when I came by with the Manhattan Sideways team and Alex brought out a collection of dishes for us to try. Laying them on tables made of repurposed wood from a Brooklyn warehouse floor, he served us a sextet of different kinds of deviled eggs, each with its own taste sensation, and a white bean hummus. The cauliflower covered in spicy buffalo sauce was my personal favorite. It is no surprise that the food is as good as it is, given that the Bromberg Brothers have twenty years of success in the culinary world behind them. "They know what they're doing, " Alex smiled. I mentioned to the others that I had not seen the cauliflower on the menu before, and Alex quickly chimed in to say that the menu has changed since the restaurant first opened. "We take customer feedback very seriously, " Alex shared, explaining that the food offerings were adjusted according to diners' comments. Ribbon is also known for a great raw bar, their fried chicken served only on Sundays and Mondays, their prime rib, and their hamburgers. Alex emphasized that this is a family friendly place. Despite the great skill of the staff, he pointed out that Ribbon is not considered "fine" dining. Instead, he referred to the restaurant as "elevated dining. "
Jennifer Klein lived on 72nd Street for several decades before debuting her latest restaurant and bar. Since Dakota Bar opened in 2013, it has become a hotspot, attracting Upper West Siders with its chic, unpretentious vibes. The bar features seasonal cocktails, an eclectic menu, and an extensive wine and beer list, all curated by Jennifer.
Across the park and nine streets north from the 64th Street location, Olivia, a member of the Manhattan Sideways team, was still visibly excited to be sitting down to breakfast at Alice's Tea Cup. Though she loves each of the teahouse's three "chapters, " the 73rd Street cafe is the original - and the first one she visited as a young teen. She shared stories with me of coming here and marveling at the tiered Afternoon Teas that would arrive at her table, filled with scones, finger sandwiches and sweets. She questioned whether or not she might have been a bit too old at fifteen to celebrate her birthday here and then spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around New York blowing sparkle-filled bubbles, dressed in a pair of shimmering fairy wings acquired from the tea shop's front room, which is filled with whimsical retail items. On our visit to Alice's, Olivia, now a mature twenty-five, had her usual - a pumpkin scone with a personal pot of tea - while Tom, our photographer, ordered "the biggest coffee" they had. It arrived in a mug "the size of Tom's face. " Olivia pointed out all the Alice in Wonderland themed decorations that she remembered from previous visits, including a quote from the character of the Duchess written in fun purple font along the walls and an angry painting of the red queen in the bathroom, telling employees to wash their hands or "Off with your head! " Her favorite little decorative touch, however, was on the swinging door into the kitchen. There is a giant keyhole window, suggesting that maybe, like Alice, the diners had shrunk to the size of mice, and would be swept away into a magical land, scones and teacups in hand.
Though the congregation was established in 1895, the golden yellow building, designed in the Hungarian vernacular architectural style by Emery Roth, was not completed until 1916. The church is now the oldest in the neighborhood and still holds services in Hungarian every Sunday.
Opened by Bruno and Thierry Gelormini in 1995, Le Charlot offers the tastes and sights of French-owned Corsica complemented by "French attitude. " Light music plays, rattan chairs surround white-clothed tables, and a plethora of natural light consumes the outdoor seating, pushing inside through open windows. Locals and others strolling in from Central Park are happy to dine in this relaxed environment. Loyal to the French bistro image, Le Charlot offers fresh, colorful dishes. A favorite to many, the mussels sit in a white wine sauce, waiting to be ripped open for their concealed treasures. The artichoke special with champagne vinaigrette bares its petals, enticing one to savor every morsel while peeling away to the tender heart. Reds, whites, and greens share a plate for the Caprese salad. Adding to this calm, tasteful atmosphere, the international staff emanates with charm and good spirits, and the manager told me he was "a part of the furniture, " having worked in this restaurant from the bottom to the top. It was clear the staff had become very close, as they laughed and put their arms around each other throughout my stay. "We are a family here, " one explained, "And we are having fun serving people. "When the aspirations of the staff align with the aspirations of the guests, a restaurant is immediately more invigorated, and with bites and an ambiance resembling that of a Mediterranean island, this is the perfect side street gem to evade the fast pace of Manhattan for a little while.
The birth of the JNF began with a dream belonging to Zvi Hermann Schapira, a mathematics professor in Switzerland. He wanted a fund to be developed that could be used by the Jewish people in order to develop their own country. Theodor Herzl, a Viennese journalist, took Schapira's dream and ran with it. In 1901, the fund was created. Since that time, the JNF has planted countless trees, developed communities in need, and helped the Jewish people connect with the land of Israel.