Summer 2014 (Vol. 2)

Dining in the Park

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Dining in the Park

ARTICLE & PHOTOS BY JOANNE RAPTIS | SUMMER ISSUE

Culinarian art director and native New Yorker Joanne Raptis tops off a touristy day in the city with dinner at Central Park’s Tavern on the Green. She went for the killer views–but was the food worth it? Read on for Joanne’s review of the historic restaurant.

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Despite having lived in New York City my whole life, I still savor every opportunity to be a tourist here. On a recent day off from work, my mom and I rented bikes and toured Central Park and stared dumbfounded as we cycled past the bustling courtyard on the once dormant Tavern on the Green. This restaurant, situated at the southwestern edge of the Park, was one of the most famous and celebrated restaurants in its hay day, but time slowly ran the establishment down until it closed in 2009. After a serious renovation, this landmark restaurant reopened this past April. Partly because my love for scenic dining locations and partly because of my mom’s nostalgic feelings for the tavern (this is where my dad proposed to her), we immediately secured a reservation for dinner, which was to be the finale to our city day.

We arrived in the late evening and were seated inside the new center dining room. The interior decor featured an enchanting blend of twisted iron railings and regal white-washed wooden furnishings—elegantly balancing warm and cozy with light and airy. The entire front wall was a clear window looking out onto the diners in the outdoor front courtyard draped in strings of light, and the whole scene was set against the backdrop of the Park’s sprawling Sheep’s Meadow field. I think you can tell by now that I am a little crazy about ambiance, and the tavern itself blew me away.

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Our waiter was charming and enthusiastically chatted away about the tavern’s history. He explained how the new restaurant’s start has been pretty rocky, partly from having big shoes to fill and partly because of the usual newbie kinks.

This rockiness was somewhat apparent in the food, though perhaps my mixed feelings about my striped bass entrée derived more from the fact that it contained saffron, a spice I dislike, than the dish’s actual execution. Though I regretted not reading the menu more thoroughly in my hurry to order—the consequences of the hunger built up after a busy biking day—at least the food came out quickly, and the fish in my entrée itself was perfectly cooked, flaky and succulent. If I judged the restaurant off of the seasonal sautéed greens I ordered on the side, rather than my striped bass entrée (which I was pretty much predisposed to dislike), I’d definitely go back: the greens, a blend of rhubarb and amaranth, were tastefully prepared and delicately plated. The menu changes weekly to feature only the most seasonal and local of ingredients, and if that weren’t reason enough for me, the chance to dine in such a legendary and picturesque environment will definitely leave me itching to give the Tavern on the Green another visit.

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Tavern on the Green is located at 67th St. and Central Park West. Entree prices range from $30-$50.  For more information or to place a reservation, please call (212) 877-8684.

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