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.
Opening Night Menu
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
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
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
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
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
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
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)
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
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.