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Ooh La La Restaurant—chef Bill Telepan's recent, um, extremely high-pressure consulting gig—opened for breakfast today at 9 a.m. and closed at 10:30. Tomorrow it will be open again for the same hours. Then it will shut its doors forever.
That's kind of an odd approach for a restaurant, but when your staff is comprised of kindergartners, you do have to make some adjustments. Ooh La La Restaurant is located in NYC's PS 87 on the Upper West Side and is the culmination of several months of culinary research by a gang of pretty impressive seven-year-olds. Prices here are in quarters: three quarters gets you either French toast, French bread with butter or a blueberry muffin. The profits benefit City Harvest, a great hunger-fighting charity. And each item comes with a heaping side order of cute.
Unfortunately, Ooh La La is only open to parents and fellow students. So my suggestion is that people just walk 10 blocks down to Bill Telepan's own terrific restaurant, Telepan, instead. There may not be any blueberry muffins on his Spring menu, but there is his spring paella, one of the best things I've eaten so far this year. Telepan cooks rice, peas, asparagus and lobster with braised fresh bacon and a mix of clam and chicken stocks; adds scallops and additional fresh bacon; steams clams over clam stock and adds those; then finishes the dish with an herb oil incorporating parsley, chervil, tarragon, chives and dill. Not quite paella and not quite risotto, its flavors are as bright as May sunlight; it's ideally springtimey and utterly delicious. (It also, like most of Telepan's food, focuses on locally sourced and Greenmarket produce.) But while waiting for that paella to arrive, try to cajole the server into bringing out some of Telepan's not-on-the-menu foie gras sliders, each a slab of foie and a schmear of zingy-sweet rhubarb jam sandwiched between two pieces of toasted brioche.
Finally, make sure to let wine director Aaron von Rock to weigh in on what to drink with your meal. His wine list is full of unusual, moderately priced, intriguing choices, enough to excite even a jaded wine writer. For me, springtime always feels like white-wine time: Try the citrusy 2008 P. Escudero Fuente Milano Rueda from Spain by the glass; by the bottle, go for Clelia Romano's peach-plus-anise 2008 Colli di Lapio Fiano di Avellino. Or just ask von Rock to suggest something. He has an unerring sense of what wine will bring out the best in each of the chef's dishes—an expertise which, admittedly, is something you wouldn't be able to get at Ooh La La, however charming it may be.