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Where to Eat 2007


Haute Barnyard


To the city’s growing roster of country-themed, supplier-obsessed, increasingly expensive dining establishments, like Peasant, Hearth, Blue Hill, and Craft, let’s add ,Telepan, where the former king of the midtown power lunch, Bill Telepan, has introduced crowds of grateful Upper West Side burghers to the righteous glories of Greenmarket cuisine. In accordance with prevalent Haute Barnyard motifs, the rooms of this West 69th Street restaurant are colored in hues of mossy green, and the walls decorated with photographs of giant, dewy farmer’s fruit. The menu is dotted with earthy favorites like hen-of-the-woods mushrooms (stuffed in a lunchtime panini) and Heritage pork (cooked four different ways), and to accommodate the settled grazing habits of the locals, Telepan lays out an impressive weekend brunch, which includes scrambled eggs mixed with gravlax and smoked whitefish, blintzes filled with sheep’s-milk ricotta, and a delicious gourmet construction of coddled eggs, balanced on crispy squares of scrapple.

As far as I know, scrapple hasn’t shown up yet at Cookshop, in Chelsea, although the restaurant’s habit of scrawling the names of its favorite farm suppliers on a prominent blackboard has spread to Haute Barnyard establishments far and wide. You can get your rabbit roasted on a spit here, just like in the hills around, say, Lexington, Kentucky, and all the beef on the menu is resolutely grass-fed, including my brunch-time burger, the slight chewiness of which was successfully obscured by thick slabs of twice-smoked country bacon and chunks of melted Cheddar from Vermont. All meals at Cookshop should begin with copious bowls of the deep-fried spiced hominy, and the meat of choice is the Berkshire pork chop (it costs $14 less than the grass-fed New York strip), which is brined, charred to a satisfying crispiness on its exterior, and served with a tasting of country pork sausages and a bit of healthful rapini.

Pork is one of the latest obsessions of that obsessive Italian chef, Cesare Casella, whose personal herd of organically raised hogs usually ends up as delicious grilled salsiccia, served with cannellini beans, at his spaghetti-Western-themed restaurant, in the West Village, Maremma. Pork is also one of the specialties at the new location of The Tasting Room, in Nolita, a place so virtuous that even the cocktails are made with artisanal ingredients like house-made bitters and home-brewed ginger beer. My friend the pork hound is addicted to the pulled-pork shanks (piled over mashed sweet potatoes), and to the pork crackling, which chef Colin Alevras sprinkles like candy over helpings of handpicked, though egregiously pricey ($34), lobster mushrooms. For the ultimate in barnyard chic, try the desserts, like peach cobbler, topped with peach-leaf ice cream, and brioche pudding, which is decked with slivers of fresh Honey Crisp apples and splashed, in grand country style, with a shot of Calvados.

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