Bring Green to the Tavern on the Green…

Tavern on the Green
Tavern on the Green

The iconic, Tavern On The Green, just re-opened.

I was excited to see the transformation and sample the food since the fare was basically inedible for years before the place was closed and turned into a tourist center.  I live down the block and we have so few good restaurant options in my ‘hood.

Tavern on the Green restaurant was built in 1870 as the Sheepfold for the flock of sheep who grazed on the adjacent Sheep Meadow. In 1934 it was turned into a restaurant, which has seen many different owners and images in the past 80 years. After a two-year restoration, the restaurant re-opened on April 24, 2014.

Tavern Bar Room
Tavern Bar Room

We sashayed over. The restaurant is gorgeous…simple and elegant. The entrance and Bar Room is vast, highlighted by a magnificent original fireplace and a sweep of mahogany.

Philadelphia restaurateurs Jim Caiola and David Salama have toned down the over excessiveness of the old Tavern on the Green and thankfully discarded the gaudy chandeliers and replaced with a level of refinement and elegance. 

Central Park Room
Central Park Room

The tavern’s new centerpiece is the Central Park Room, replacing the Crystal Room and its showy excess. Slightly smaller, with a simple wall of glass facing the expanse of repaved terrace and a view of the park, it is outfitted with gracious pale upholstery and has a partly open 21st-century kitchen along its back wall. The room is lovely, but impossible to converse in.

Central Park Room and Kitchen
Central Park Room and Kitchen

The elegant South Wing, pale green with leafy mirrors and traditional woodwork, extends beyond it. We fled to the backroom which was a huge mistake. We felt as if we had used the incorrect utensils and were banished to the elegant timeout South Wing.

Mirror Leaf in South Wing
Mirror Leaf in South Wing

The most advisable choice is to sit outside under the stars…the evening was humid and I dislike frizzing between courses.

Our server, Stephanie was affable and well informed, but the food was truly average.

Katy Sparks always overdress the menu…just keep the market-driven menu simple. She was recognized at her own restaurant, Quilty, but I felt it suffered from the same problems.

The menu is divided into small and large plates and sections entitled, The Hearth, The Grill and The Plancha…fussy.

Not one item on the menu grabbed me…excessive embellishment. Even the ceviches have too much crap in them. I just returned from Peru, the ceviche center of the world and with ceviche less is more. The only appealing selection is Maine sea scallops with ginger, lime and black sesame sea salt ($18).

Duck Egg
Duck Egg

To start, we ordered the local duck egg on a spring onion and smoked ricotta crostata with anchovies and oil cured olives ($16) which looked artistic, but befuddled my taste buds.

I would have loved a salad, but the seasonal greens ($12) Tavern salad ($18) and red endive ($17) did not resonate and again appeared overpriced for the ingredients or lack there of.

Maine Bouchot Mussels
Maine Bouchot Mussels

Our next course was wood-roasted Maine Bouchot mussels ($15) which were advertised as large, but were medium sized. I prefer the large New Zealand mussels and down the street one can order double the size with amazing french fries at Landmarc in the Time Warner Center.

The mussels were steamed with almond, garlic, red chili and thyme breadcrumbs. They were tasty in a spicy sauce with a scattering of delicious, but meager pieces of chunky bread crumbs. Bread is not a high ticket item…at least let us mop up the sauce.

BTW, the bread and breadsticks which are immediately brought to your table were terrible…tasteless and hard. As with men’s shoes, you tell tell a great deal about a man (sever the relationship if his shoes are square-toed or take him shopping, immediately) and a restaurant by the bread and butter.

At this point, I was reluctant to order much more as the food was underwhelming and the prices high.

I was excited to order a hamburger, but they took it off the menu probably because it was the most reasonably priced item. We selected the yellow fin tuna ($38). I prepare tuna frequently at home and the small serving probably cost them under $10 wholesale so the restaurant makes a hefty profit with every order.

We shared the main of marinated yellowfin tuna with red onion marmalade,criminis and bacon, and 1 piece of wilted arugula ($38). The tuna was ice cold with a slab of bacon draped across the top of the fish…beyond chewy and also cold.

The fish was tasteless and you needed to spoon the tuna with the small portion of crimini  mushrooms to achieve any level of flavor.

The meal was further complicated by a senior eastsider who took our dining area for her personal phone booth. After we lived through 6 screaming utterings of, “Can you hear me know?!” she attempted to rant about her bridge game tomorrow, bellowing at the person on the other end of the phone. I had the manager escort the self-involved advanced in age entitlementor to a more convenient location to finish her card game negotiations.

I had had enough. What an uninspired evening.

I must stress that the establishment is beautiful. Don’t be deterred from trying Tavern on the Green. It may sound hypocritical, but definitely go for the setting and outdoor ambiance and have a look around inside…truly stellar makeover.

Courtyard at Tavern on the Green Photo/NY Post
Courtyard at Tavern on the Green Photo/NY Post

Sit outside (300 seat outdoor area and courtyard), have a cocktail and then proceed cautiously with the menu.

Lunchtime may be a better bet. The menu looks more appealing and less pricey. Try the mussels or scallop ceviche with a glass of rose from Provence ($15) or the Nadia red and then head to La Traviata on Columbus and 68th for a fab slice of pizza.

Tavern on the Green in Central Park Central Park West and 67th Street. Lunch daily 11am-3pm. Mid-day 3-5pm, Dinner nightly 5-11pm, Late Night 11pm-1am. Brunch Saturday and Sunday 9am-3pm. Green To-Go 7am-6pm. www.tavernonthegreen.com

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*