Tag Archives: Legendary restaurants

NYC Food Adventures: Tavern on the Green

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

NYC Food Adventure: Daniel

Notes from a New York City Foodie Trip

A Wonderful Night at a Two Michelin Star Restaurant

I wanted to crown our once-in-our-lifetime trip to New York City with a visit to both the future and the past of fine dining in the City – going to one of the best classic restaurants, and one of the best and most innovative newest ones. For the former, we chose Daniel.

The beautiful main dining room. Our reservations were early, as we were hoping to catch a show after dinner, and the restaurant filled up by the time we left.

I can’t say, really, that it was much of a choice as one of the other contenders, Le Cirque, had closed years prior, and two more, Le Bernardin and Per Se, did not have reservations available during our week in New York, but Daniel was perfect for what I wanted: a restaurant that for decades had been at the very top of the NYC restaurant pyramid. The eponymous flagship restaurant of famed chef Daniel Boulud, Daniel turned thirty years old last year. It’s located on Park Avenue, near Central Park, and features a grand, if somewhat understated, dining room that screams “special occasion.” It also has a lounge for more casual occasions. While I don’t know what Daniel’s menu looked like thirty years ago, I can’t imagine it was significantly different. The dishes are all classic French-inspired concoctions, which mostly delighted and sometimes even surprised. Presentation was impecable, flavors and compositions magnificent, and the whole experience exactly what you expect from a two or three Michelin star restaurant (Daniel lost its third star a decade ago).

Daniel offers a four course prix-fixe menu ($188) and a seven course tasting menu ($275) in the dining room, and the former plus an a la carte menu in their lounge. The prix-fixe menu gives you a choice of dishes for each course, while the tasting menu is set by the Chef and must be ordered for the whole table. I had gone in thinking we’d do the tasting menu, but quickly changed my mind when I realized that foie gras was only available as part of the prix-fixe one. Plus, I figured, by sharing dishes, my husband and I would be able to taste eight different ones, rather than just seven. In addition to the for courses of the pre fix menu, there is a pre-appetizer dish and three extra dessert courses – so that four-course menu is really an 8-course one. You most definitely do not leave hungry. Both menus come with wine pairings ($125 to $195) but we no longer can drink that much alcohol and stay awake, so we decided against it.

leek amuse bouches

Dinner started with an amuse bouche of leeks prepared three ways, served on a somewhat disconcerting half plate (literally a plate cut in half). Mike and I absolutely love leeks and this dish was not only beautiful but delicious – probably my second favorite of the night. I particularly loved the creamy leek soup, which reminded me of the leek cream I make for my flamishe.

Mike’s first course consisted of the Long Island fluke (sea buckthorn cured, crème fraîche, crispy daikon
shaved radishes, orange balm). These were basically thin layers of fluke, served cold, with the listed accoutrements. I wasn’t a fan, which is not surprising as I’m not a big raw fish fan. Mike, on the other hand, loved it. He thought the combination of flavors and textures was amazing.

Far more successful for me, and I’d say even beautiful, was the Upstate New York foie gras terrine (Lehigh Valley squab, cacao, Fukushu kumquat, heart of palm, “brioche feuilletée”). The terrine was delicious and worked very well with the acidity of the kumquat and the bitterness of the chocolate. Moreover, it was s generous slice.

Mike’s first second dish was Montabauk Black Sea Bass (Ossetra caviar, beluga lentils, vodka-watercress emulsion). We were at first thrown by the presentation (round fish?) but had fun with it. The fish was flaky and perfectly cooked, and the combination of flavors worked very well – I liked how fresh the watercress emulsion was. The lentils were very comforting.

My second course dish, the Upstate New York Foie Gras (Cointreau flambéed, Cara cara orange, licorice, braised black radishes, an $18 supplement) was cooked tableside and it was a spectacle. The show was fun, but the foie gras was truly delicious. I’ve had various combinations of foie gras and fruit before, but this very well may be my favorite. The portion was generous, and it went perfectly with the tiny pieces of brioche. As much as we enjoyed the black sea bass, I wished we had ordered two of the foie gras instead, so I could have had a full portion just for myself. It was that good and our favorite dish of the evening.

For his entree, Mike had the Manchester Farms quail “Onyx” (black truffle, Horn of Plenty mushroom “subric”, celery, “sauce Albufera”). This was perhaps the hardest dish to understand – I’m still trying to. As best as I can understand, the dish consisted of a croquette stuffed with quail and quail eggs. I do not like eggs, so this was not the dish for me, but once again Mike liked it, and he liked the presentation and combination of flavors.

My entrée was the Highland Farm venison (chestnut crusted, parsley, spaetzle, myoga,
mustard greens salad, sauce “Grand Veneur”) and I thought it worked very well. The meat was tender and perfectly cooked – but it’s venison, not the most flavorful meat out there. I did like the spaetzle in the sauce and I absolutely loved the chestnut purée. I will have to attempt to make something like that for some holiday meal. It’s sweet, but the sauce gave it a savory element. It was simply good.

It was then time for dessert, and these kept coming and coming…


I ordered the Sudachi Vacherin (sudachi sherbet, green apple-herbs sorbet, nori scented meringue) and it was excellent. I loved the combination of the sour sorbets (sudachi is a Japanese citrus) and the sweet meringue. It has inspired me to try to experiment making sorbets from different citruses, as well as green apples (if I can figure out a way to juice them or buy green apple juice). It was my favorite dessert of the evening.

Mike chose the Hukambi (Brazilian chocolate custard, toasted riz au lait, banana ganache) and it was good, but pretty unmemorable. I was pretty fully by then and I have began to like chocolate less and less in my older years so I wasn’t terribly into it. Mike, who wanted it, can’t remember what he thought of it. He didn’t dislike anything that night, so he must have liked it.

We were having an early anniversary celebration that night, so the next dish that came – several chocolate truffles – was served in a dish with a candle and Happy Anniversary written on it. I thought it was very nice. Truffles were good, though, as mentioned, I was really full by then.

mini madelines

If I had been able to eat anything else, I would have gone for these mini-Madelines. They were served warm and they were fluffy, soft and delicious. I had only a couple, but they were very much worth it.


Apparently, three dessert courses weren’t enough – as we then got these three petit fours. I can’t even tell you about them. I’m sure they were great, but there is such a thing as too much dessert, so they blended into everything else that evening.

And indeed, we weren’t done. Because we had a fifth dessert course to come – though by this point, we didn’t bother with pictures. This involved chocolate sticks (thin cookie sticks covered on chocolate). I tried one – because I had to – and it was very good, but really, it was almost cruel to be given all this amazing food with just one stomach.

Finally, we got a little canelé to take home with us. I wanted to make these myself when I cooked Bordelaise food, but they require a special pan I didn’t want to have to buy. I’d gotten them boxed, and had been disappointed with them, but commercial products are often poor imitation of the real thing. Unfortunately, in this case they weren’t. Daniel’s canelés, which I tried the next day, were also dense, not very sweet and not very flavorful. I think we must blame Burgundy and not Daniel, however.

Daniel has an impressive wine list and large variety of cocktails, but I stuck with sparkling water all night (Evian, $10 for a bottle) while Mike mostly drank tap water. He did have a cocktail, a Liaison Lisbonne ($24). He liked it, but can’t remember what was in it.

Service throughout the night was splendid. The staff was obsequious and really made us feel pampered and special. I’ll say that, in general, we got great service in New York, so that might be part of the NYC hospitality culture.

Daniel no longer has a dress code, though jackets are encouraged for gentlemen. All but a couple of men wore them, and most women were nicely dressed – I didn’t see anyone wearing “nice jeans”.

In all, we had a lovely evening, and we’d highly recommend Daniel for anyone who wants to have a special, classical meal, in beautiful surroundings.

60 E 65th Street,
New York, NY 10065
(212) 288-0033
Tuesday-Sunday, from 5pm-10pm

NYC Food Adventures: Katz’s Deli

Notes from a New York City Foodie Trip

Yes, we had the Pastrami Sandwich. And yes, it was as good as they said.

Katz’s Deli is perhaps New York City’s most famous restaurant. At least, it’s the one “must visit” restaurant in every list I looked in preparation to our trip to NYC. It has appeared in several movies, most famously, in the “orgasm” scene in When Harry Met Sally. Katz’s claims to be the oldest deli in NYC, and it has operating at its present location for almost a hundred years. Mike and the girls had visited it back when we last went to NYC in 2016, after the Democratic Convention in Philly, and had brought me a sandwich from there – I had been so exhausted after the convention that I barely left the hotel room. But I wanted to go myself and really savor that very famed pastrami sandwich.

As Katz’s is such a famous destination, it can also be impossibly busy – with lines which sometimes are supposed to near 45 minutes. Fortunately, it was pretty empty when we arrived before noon on a cold February day and I was able to find a seat right away.

katz ticket

Katz’s has a somewhat confusing system of serving customers, but it works fairly well. When you go in, every person is given a red ticket at the door. The cost of what you order will be written on the ticket by either the people at the counter, where you order, or your waiter if you get waiter service. When you are ready to go, you present the ticket to the cashier at the exit, and pay the amount written on it. You can put all your purchases on a single ticket, but just make sure to keep your blank ticket with you and return it to the cashier when you leave. If you don’t have your ticket, you’ll be charged $50.

Katz's deli

You have a choice of ordering your food at the counter and finding your own table where you can seat, or getting waiter service. Most of the available tables are for counter customers, but there is a small section at the back of the store (walk all the way back, and then go to the right, towards the bathrooms) where they have table service. If there is more than one of you, you can find a seat while someone goes to the counter and orders for the rest.

Katz' deli

Katz’s very long counter is divided into several sections. If you are ordering a meat sandwich – or, I presume, just meat – you go to one of the “cutters” who will give you a sample of the meats you are interested in (make sure to tip him a buck or two), for you to choose. They are most famous for their pastrami, but they also have corned beef, brisket and others. We’d been considering a combo pastrami-corned beef sandwich, but after tasting the pastrami, Mike knew that’s all he wanted. After ordering your sandwich, you can go to the other parts of the counter to order other dishes and drinks.

pastrami sandwich

Katz’s sandwiches are both expensive and huge, large enough to share as long as you are not starving (then, you might want your own or you might want to get a second dish). They are so filled with meat, that I found it easier to just eat the pastrami and forgo the bread – though Mike went for the sandwich experience. The pastrami was really very good, only slightly fatty, and just tasty and smoky (thought not overwhelmingly so). Sandwiches come with two types of pickles, full and half-sour, but as we don’t like pickles, they were wasted on us.

Getting to Katz’s on the subway from Times Square/Rockefeller Center was very easy, so it’s worth the trip, at least during those times when there isn’t much of a wait. You can algo get Katz’s goodies through a variety of delivery services, and they do ship nationwide.

BTW, there is no discount if your last name is “Katz“. We asked, as apparently lots of other people have (for those who are not in the US, Katz is a very common Jewish last name over here).

Katz's Delicatessen
205 East Houston Street

New York City
(212) 254-2246
Monday - Thursday: 8:00 AM - 11:00 PM
Friday 8:00 AM - Sunday 11:00 PM