When I moved to New York City in 1997, eating at Tavern on the Green was on my “must” list of NY experiences. I was blown away by the Vegas glitz (if not the food) and although it had been reduced to more a joke than an icon, I was saddened nonetheless to see the famed eatery shutter in 2009.
Interestingly, the building was originally designed to house the sheep that grazed in Central Park’s Sheep Meadow. It was converted to a restaurant in 1934 as part of a major Central Park renovation.
The restaurant changed hands several times before Warner LeRoy took it over in 1974 and managed it until his death in 2001. Following Warner’s death, his daughter ran it (in to the ground) and unfortunately, when it closed in 2009, it was rated as one of the worst restaurants in the city (and that’s saying a lot with the thousands of restaurants in NYC!).
I’m thrilled to say Tavern on the Green reopened last Thursday, April 25th, and I was fortunate enough to have a reservation on Opening Night!
Not surprisingly, Chef Katy Sparks radically changed the menu, showcasing a menu favoring local and sustainable farmers and artisans. Although I had heard negative comments from a “Family & Friends” night prior to the restaurant’s official opening, they clearly got things together as everything we ate was fantastic.
On the building front, things were also wwwaaayyy improved, favoring an atmosphere designed to attract locals to stop by again and again! The City dropped $16 million to the LeRoy gaudiness including exposing the original beams:
The new owners then spent another $17 million to create multiple atmospheres in the various rooms, including a farmhouse South Wing, a smaller Crystal Room with floor-to-ceiling windows onto the park and an open kitchen, and a clubby bar in the front.
One of my favorite features is the carousel chandelier above the new bar:
The new bar:
It was a magical evening, recalling those long ago memories of a fantastic evening when I first moved to NYC. If you’re in New York, I would highly recommend Tavern on the Green!!