Editor’s Note: Until it closed after a final New Year’s Bash in January 2010, Tavern on the Green was an iconic New York experience. If you enjoy food, tradition, and beauty, you may still enjoy this review of Tavern on the Green, formerly in New York’s Central Park. Let’s just say this editor is glad to have experienced it before it was too late.
It’s an iconic New York experience. If you enjoy food, tradition, and beauty, make it a point to visit Tavern on the Green.
Even though I’ve had years of trips to New York, I haven’t had the opportunity to actually eat at this restaurant before – I’ve always been running for a plane, or tied up in evening business meetings inside the hotel, or simply too far away, too tired, or too broke.
This time, I made it there. It’s in Central Park, at West 67th Street. Let me repeat myself: It’s in Central Park. Although you can get there via taxi on a main street, we chose to walk through the Park, encountering joggers, bikers, baby strollers and the occasional street musician. The Park was green and lush, full of activity and all of the energy that is New York.
Our chefs had advised us to, ‘Eat at Tavern on the Green, outside, and then walk through Central Park.’ So, when my co-worker, April, and I arrived, we requested an outside table. We were early by New York standards, but there was already a Latin band, and dancing, under beautiful lanterns and flowering trees.
The tables were filled with a variety of people – there was the young family with two small children who happily munched on bread while Daddy ate jumbo shrimp. There were several pairs of fashionable women in sun dresses with jumbo belts around tiny waists. There were couples who seemed intent on their conversations even as waiters ministered to their slightest motion.
Once we had absorbed a little bit of the atmosphere, April and I were, of course, all about the food. The menu items had been paired down to the essential balance, offering great variety without an over abundance of choices. Only minutes in and I was able to narrow my selection down to two prime suspects: Shellfish Cioppino, with lobster, clams, mussels, prawns, crab claws, pasta, saffron and aioli; or, herb butter-crusted filet of beef with potato gratin and asparagus. Either sounded perfect.
‘What’s your recommendation?,’ I asked our waiter.
Without hesitation he said, ‘The Cioppino. It’s fabulous.’
It was as easy as that. And every bit as fabulous as he said. The shellfish was plentiful and the sauce flavorful. April went with the Spaghettini with Baby Manila Clams, which she pronounced delicious as well.
We did have one interruption in the evening; just about mid-way through our dinner, the rain started to fall. Within minutes the practiced waiters had picked up and moved every table of diners to a beautiful room inside, where we were able to finish without threat of thunder and rain – plus enjoy the chandeliers and beautiful artwork.
Tavern on the Green offers a pre-theatre dinner from 5 to 6:30 p.m. for $48 a person, which includes three courses and seems to be a great way to experience two great New York treasures in one evening. The restaurant also offers private label sauces, infused oils, vinegars and marinades at www.taverndirect.com.
When you go, ask to sit outside. With luck, it will start to rain.
Photos by April Speed.