Notes from a New York City Foodie Trip

Tavern on the Green is a NYC Institution, But Is it Worth Eating There?

Our last meal in New York City was brunch at Tavern on the Green. The only restaurant actually located in Central Park, Tavern on the Green has been a NYC institution for ninety years. The restaurant came into life in the 1930’s in a former sheep fold, and underwent changes and expansions in the decades to come. Throughout its history, it served socialites, celebrities and tourists alike, and has been featured in a myriad of movies. After closing and falling into disrepair in the aughts, it underwent a major renovation – I read somewhere that only the original wood beams from the ceiling were kept – and re-opened in 2014. Since then, it’s had its share of struggles, and reviews are mixed.

Still, I figured a visit to the park followed by brunch at Tavern on the Green, would be the perfect way to close our week in New York City – and I was right. It had snowed the night before, and Central Park was covered in light, fluffy, perfect snow that morning. The park was beautiful, enchanting. To me, it looked like out of a postcard. And the restaurant, from the outside at least, looked dreamy.

Inside, the restaurant is very large, with several dining rooms, each with its own vibe. There is one around a very busy bar, bursting with energy. Several have lots of windows, with great views of the park. Most were quite full, though we were seated fairly promptly after we arrived and checked our coats.

We were seated in the last dining room, near the kitchen. It’s a rather small, cozy dining room with tables looking into an enclosed area on one side, and to the patio on the other. It featured the aforementioned wood beams. This was a much quieter dining room than others, but also a darker one – particularly in what was still a cloudy day.

Our table for two was in the middle of the room, which made it much less pleasant. I would have much preferred a window view, and I really should have asked for one – so I have only myself to blame for not getting one. Fortunately, the waiter traffic around us wasn’t too annoying.

Tavern on the Green was serving brunch, that Saturday morning at 11:30 AM, and their menu was surprisingly limited. Prices were high, though not unexpectedly so given its location. I have to confess that I was uninspired by the choices. The menu has a lot of American classics, but not particularly exciting ones, at least in their descriptions. The offerings also seemed rather disjointed – though I guess “American classics” is a theme. It took me quite a while to figure out what I wanted to eat. I was also disappointed that they didn’t have fresh orange juice available.

I finally decided on the French Onion Soup ($14) and the potato pancakes. The soup was surprisingly to my taste (I won’t say good, as I’m sure preferences differ a lot here). The onions were very, very sweet, and contrasted nicely with the saltiness of the cheese. It had an old-fashioned taste – perhaps the lack of bitterness made me think “American” rather than “French”. I just enjoyed it.

The Potato Pancakes ($12) served with sour cream and apple sauce, were also surprisingly tasty. They were very nicely seasoned, without being overly salty. I probably would have preferred them if they were less crispy – they were a tad on the dry side and could use less time in the fryer -, but flavor wise, they were definitely there. I was sad that I wasn’t able to finish them.

Mike had the Green Chicken Salad (deviled eggs, haricots verts, baby oakleaf lettuce, frisée, sundried dates, toasted almonds, red wine vinaigrette – $33). This was a huge salad, and a very filling one. Mike couldn’t finish it. He particularly liked the deviled eggs – he loves deviled eggs -, but the chicken was also nicely spiced and grilled. If you’re going to have a salad for lunch, this is a very good option.

Service was fine, I don’t remember anything particular about it, and we really had a lovely experience – though a window would have made it better. After lunch, we stopped at the gift shop which has a lot of beautiful items, though as overpriced as you expect them to be.

In all, it was a nice lunch, though I’m not sure I’d return – while the food was good, it was boring, and expensive, and the restaurant is so buy you get the feeling you are at an amusement park.

Tavern on the Green
67th Street & Central Park West,
New York City
Monday - Thursday 11am - 10pm
Friday 11am - 11pm
Saturday 9am-11pm
Sunday 9am-10pm