Once roamed sheep in what is now America’s most famous city park.
Of course, they needed a place to stay overnight.
Welcome to Tavern on the Green in Central Park, reinvented as the destination restaurant / freedom of care / night-or-day-out destination for both visitors and New Yorkers.
The tavern is like much of the Big Apple open again. But it is not only open – it is wide open. Anyone looking for a New York experience gets it right here – eating, watching, the feeling of being outdoors, even when you’re indoors. Imagine seeing 60-story office buildings in the skyline while surrounded by flowering shrubs and tall trees.
Jim Caiola, the enthusiastic co-owner of Tavern, sees the restaurant this way: “The Tavern had been known for events. But we also wanted people to say, ‘Let’s go to the inn for dinner.’ “
And you can do both, as well as lunch and brunch.
You can eat indoors and outdoors. You can sit at a table in a room that evokes a hot bar from the 1880s, or you can dine while watching chefs prepare your organic Scottish salmon or hamburger.
And there is live music from Thursday to Sunday night (as well as during Sunday brunch).
You do not eat many places that are marked. But Tavern on the Green has that special designation along with the Empire State Building. So all changes must be approved by the city.
Jim Caiola is eager to keep things classic. Thus, wooden roof beams that have existed for a century and a half. Wooden floors may be new, but the design is approved, as is the appearance of the ceiling. Even the pattern of the concrete going from the outside corresponds to a certain appearance.
And when it comes to food and drink – well, what do you expect when you go to a restaurant? Mr. Caiola is proud of its cocktails with five neighborhoods that go beyond classic Manhattan. So there is also a Staten Island, a Brooklyn, a Bronx and a Queens.
When you are ready to order, there is a combination of the old and modern versions. For example, at brunch you can start with a roasted fig appetizer and fill a baked vegetable frittata as a main course.
Dinner includes a raw selection of shrimp or crabs or oysters. If you’m hungry, what about the chardonnay-braised short beef ribs along with some fancy mushrooms, and what are described as “cheesy” potatoes? During the restaurant week – which now lasts more than a month – you get special prices.
Kids also have their choices, from mac and cheese to chicken fingers.
Now, while we wait for Broadway to reopen, you can catch some of their stars at the Tavern. On select nights, artists will turn the place into a bistro. Check out the schedule at: tavernonthegreen.com. And for dinner reservations, call 212 877-8684.
Once upon a time – and with the pub there being many amazing events – it was the starting and finishing line for the New York City Marathon. That’s right, the few dozen runners would start right here, run up to the end of Central Park and return a lot of times to complete the 26.2 mile long course. Now it remains the finish line for the thousands of runners competing.
And for people who want an experience while sitting, Tavern on the Green feels almost right.