TAVERN ON THE GREEN REOPENS AFTER BIG RENOVATION; UNION PROTESTS OUTSIDE (PHOTOS)

DA4_5660_04-24-14 Tavern Green

A totally new Tavern on the Green reopened its doors to much fanfare on Thursday after a $38 million renovation.

The old gaudy touches are gone, replaced by dark wood, banquettes, and old-style lanterns. The new restaurant is made up of a series of smaller dining rooms and outdoor spaces. There’s a round bar next to the entrance that should be a big draw, and a glass dining cube outside in the courtyard. In total, the restaurant seats 350 people inside and 350 outside.

And the food by Chef Katy Sparks looks inventive (we’ve posted the opening night menu at the bottom).

This day has been a long time coming. After the previous operators filed for bankruptcy in 2009, Tavern on the Green remained closed for almost five years. It briefly served as a visitor’s center and a parking area for food trucks. After various missteps, the city picked Philadelphian Jim Caiola and his partner David Salama to reopen the place and invested about $18 million into restoring the building. The new owners also invested about $20 million, according to WNYC.

Local politicians and the community board made a big deal about the new restaurant being accessible to the average Joe, and there will be some less expensive to-go items. But the prices on the main menu will probably make it a once-a-year “special occasion” spot for most people. The bar could be an exception to that, though we didn’t check out the drink prices.

We argued a couple of years ago that it’s fine if Tavern caters to fancy tourists, as long as the money it makes goes into making parks better. Hopefully, the profits from Tavern will feed public programs and increase the city’s measly parks budget. (Even Robert Moses decried the idea of wealthy people having an exclusive party spot on public land.)

As diners filed in for opening night, about 50-100 union members stood outside blowing whistles and yelling, as a handful of police officers stood next to them. A large inflatable rat sat nearby. Ray Harvey, a rep for the carpenter’s union, said that laborers who did the flooring at Tavern were not paid the “area standard” as they should have been.  “As far as we’re concerned, they didn’t pay area standards for flooring. They undercut the standards.”

Check out photos and the opening night menu below.

tavern awning

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tavern outside

tavern protest

Opening Night Menu

Salads

Seasonal Greens with Spring Radishes, a Pumpkin Seed Oil, Meyer Lemon and Chive Dressing  12.00

The Tavern Salad:
Chicories with Nettle Meadow Kunik, La Quercia Speck, Roasted Spring Carrots, Raw Asparagus in a Walnut-Aged Sherry Vinaigrette  18.00

Lightly Grilled Red Endive with Caramelized Anchovy, Roasted Garlic, Buttermilk and Parmesan  17.00

Chilled Seafood

Smoked Montauk Bluefish Pate, (Narragansett RI) with Juniper Salt Toasts  16.00

Smoke & Cured Fish Plate:
Smoked Scottish, Wild Western Nova, Pickled Herring served with Cultured Butter, Goat Cream Cheese, Raw Honey-Mustard and Ruis Bread  26.00

Ceviches

Faroe Island Salmon with Avocado, Cilantro and Blistered Serrano Chili Peppers  14.00

Spanish Mackerel with Toasted Garlic and Pickled Red Onion  14.00

Black Sea Bass with Ginger, Lime and Black Sesame Sea Salt  18.00

Trio of Ceviches 24.00

The Hearth

Small Plates

Serrano Ham, Cave-Aged Gruyere and Sage Toast, Anchovy-Caper Sauce  18.00

Wood Roasted Japanese Eggplant, Pomegranate and Torn Fresh Herbs, Sheep’s Milk Yogurt  15.00

Wood Roasted Maine Bouchot Mussels with Almond, Garlic, Red Chili and Thyme Breadcrumbs  15.00

Large Plates

Baked Farro Pasta with Braised Shiitakes, Heirloom Beans, Blistered Sweet Peppers and Fresh Ricotta  24.00

Atlantic Hake baked on Golden Potato Puree with Montauk Clams and Saffron and Ginger Braised Leeks  34.00

Braised Lamb Shank with Creamed Chards, Pickled Golden Raisins, Roasted Cauliflower and a Fresh Mint Gremolata  32.00

The Grill

Small Plates

Warm Local Squid Salad with Fennel, Olives and House-Pickled Hot Peppers, Ruis Rye Breadcrumbs  12.00

Local Sea Scallops with Citrus Butter, Fried Shallots and Capers  16.00

Large Plates

½ Free Range Chicken in a Marjoram-Cumin Marinade, Kabocha Squash and Smoked Soy Braised Shiitakes  26.00

Prime New York Strip Steak with Braised Leeks and Patatas Bravas, Aioli  54.00

Marinated Skirt Steak with Red Onion Marmalade, Chanterelles and Bacon, Wilted Watercress  28.00

Heritage Breed Pork Chop, Wood Roasted Rhubarb and Fennel with a Local Honey and Verjus Sauce  28.00

Grass-fed Beef Burger with Patatas Bravas and Aioli  18.00
(Add Cheese 2.00, Add Bacon 2.00, Add Red Onion Marmalade 1.00)

The Plancha (or griddle)

Small Plates

Crimini Mushrooms with Cabrales, Red Chili and Basil  9.00

Blistered Citrus and Legumes Salad with Sheep’s Milk Feta, Green Chili, Radish and Mint  14.00

Fried Local Duck Egg on a Spring Onion and Smoked Ricotta Crostata with Anchovies and Oil-Cured Olives  16.00

Large Plates

Marinated Vermont Quail, Creamy White Grits, Homemade Chorizo and Wood-Roasted Grapes  30.00

Faroe Island Salmon with Simply Sautéed Greens, Cumin-Roasted Carrot Puree, Horseradish Crème Fraiche  29.00

A Selection of Side Dishes  12.00

Broccoli Rabe with Lemon, Anchovy and Roasted Garlic

Simply Sautéed Greens in Olive Oil with Grey Sea Salt

Roasted Carrots with Orange Zest, Sumac and Thyme

Creamy White Grits

New Potatoes with Garlic, Black Pepper and Tarragon

Creamed Chards with Pickled Golden Raisins

Patatas Bravas with Aioli

All the photos except for the ones of the union guys, the awning and the cube came via the Parks Department.

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 18 comments | permalink
    1. $6 Mil says:

      The bar looks nice but the 3rd photo looks like a cafeteria.

    2. zanzi1 says:

      seriously boring

    3. moi says:

      Really ugly space. What were they thinking? And the menu is nothing special. Prices are on a par with other UWS restaurants that have opened in the last few years. A haven for tourists? Must be americans. In European cities you get a much better deal AND the food tastes a million times better!

    4. denton says:

      Wow, that decor looks like one of those ‘family-style’ places in Brooklyn. Not seeing anything that would make me want to go.

    5. Janie says:

      The decor is very disappointing. Looks like a large family restaurant in the 50’s. They do not seem to take advantage of the views of the park.Very ordinary in a very extraordinary spot.

    6. danielle says:

      The decor is totally un-New York-beyond ugly. The menu is way too complicated-large plates, small plates, sides and, in the end, cliched. What a disappointment. How did this happen?

    7. Gladys Watson says:

      Glad to have a restaurant back in the Park.
      I am not excited about the restaurant menu, but will eat there, at least once.

    8. Rat A Tooey says:

      Re: “A large inflatable rat sat nearby.”

      SAW DAT!

      Me and me bruvvers consider it an open invite!

      See youse dere!

      bon appetit!

    9. Beagle28 says:

      The decor is ugly. The hanging light fixtures are hideous. The endless, ugly green tufted bench just borders and dominates the space. They then added opaque panels above that bench -the view of the park is blocked.

    10. webot says:

      well glad its back in form or the other….

      It was ridiculous on the part of the Bloomberg administration to not renew the LeRoy’s contract.

    11. naro says:

      Somebody should sue the unions for scaring little kids with their inflatable rats. It should be illegal. If they want to scream and yell its ok but to scare little kids in a public space is a crime.

    12. KG says:

      Glad it’s back as well. The bar looks ok but the rest of the decor looks pretty blah. I agree with some of the other comments, not sure why you would put up the panels and not take advantage of the natural light and views of the park. But let’s hope it makes money off the tourist traffic and pours some of it back into the city and the park.

    13. parker says:

      I’ve walked past the restaurant a couple of times this week and can’t grasp why they chose to have the doorman/valet dressed in a period costume of riding boots and a top hat. I understand that they want to play up the Tavern’s history, but the uniform is a bit too Willy Wonka meets Disney. Perhaps others will find it charming.

    14. Derek says:

      Wow! Sounds like a lot of NYers have been living on a diet of sour grapes since the old Tavern closed! I seem to be the only person commmenting who’s actually BEEN to the new Tavern and I have to say it was wonderful. From the décor to the service to the food, everything was wonderful. How very UWS of everyone to knock something new, good job folks.

      • WhatsUpDuck says:

        While the superlatives showcase your opinion, could you compare the old Tavern and the new one? What was it like inside? How was the food compared to the LeRoys, etc.?

    15. RK says:

      Looks really nice. It’ll be good to have a restaurant back in the space. Tough to tell if the food will be good based on the menu, it’s all about execution.

      Last time I was at TOTG under the old regime, the food and service were horrendous. Won’t be hard to improve on that.

    16. Also like Robert Moses’ original Tavern, not go mention Warner Leroy’s, this so-called Everyman restaurant now is priced quite high. I am surprised that you didn’t cite the special arrangement between the new restsurant’s owners and Local 6 regarding union representation. The union agreed not to lobby employees for representation for two years, I believe. But the Rat was there only for the carpenter’s union?

      But let’s look closer at this new establishment. The layout of tables and seating is surprisingly not conducive for intimate dining. Do they plan to serve only couples?I would love to hear about the quality of service and good next. (I think a comment here about the quality of the food is regarding the old tavern, not this iteration.)

      Leroy’s Tavern was all about events, both personal and large; to be at the Tavern then meant you were celebrating something. The pictures here seem to represent that the experience now will only be about feeding. Indeed, boring.

    17. Mary Boagni says:

      These two Philadelphia restauranteurs have several very successful eateries in Philly and the food is excellent. I’m sure they will make TOG an equal success!!

      I’m not from NY or PA; I’ve only eaten at the Tavern twice. I thought the chandeliers and jardinnaires were exquisite. I’m hoping they all found good homes.

      Enjoy the food and try to give the decor a chance.