In 2009, NYC lost a landmark. Tavern on the Green went bankrupt. I had never been there myself, since it was way over budget in my first few years in NYC when I lived off of ramen and the kindness of business lunches, but I always knew it to be hard to get into and expensive. Those two things should really never equate to bankruptcy in my mind, and I heard that they were one of the highest grossing restaurant of all time in 2007 (to the tune of $37 million) but apparently the economy, debts, lease problems, some bad business, and what I heard was a severe decline in quality shuttered the restaurant. (view down Central Park West) Since it closed, reopening the iconic space has been a never ending cycle of delays delays delays The first official day of new service for the newly redone restaurant was this past Thursday, so I was excited to snag a reservation for Sunday, even if it was at 5:15pm. I was excited to see what this iconic refurb had to offer. Entering off Central Park West from 67th Street, I was a bit surprised to see that it was still under a lot of construction outside. It looks like they are working on the patios and gardens. The entrance still has that elegant feeling, with a long covered entrance and a well dressed man holding the door open. When you walk inside, the first thing you see is… a gift shop. A gift shop? In a restaurant. This made me roll my eyes. I figured this was going to be an even worse tourist trap than I originally thought. But we proceeded inside. Rumor has it the old interior was a lot of shiny metal and mirrors. This had a lovely “tavern” feel while still being a bit upscale. (Though I was surprised at how casual it really is) There is a gold plated pegasus chandelier that rotates above the entry bar, however. So not all the gold is gone. There is a windowed, glass cube porch-like area that looks out on… unfinished courttard. I was actually a bit surprised to see that the restaurant does not have views of the park. At all. I’ve passed by it a thousand times but always just assumed you could see the park from somewhere in the restaurant. But no dice. The cube reminded me a bit of the Apple Stores. We walked through the main room that connects to the windowed terrace, which also contains a big window looking into the kitchen. We were sat in the back room, near the back bar at a quiet table for two. It is a large space, so I was surprised to hear that the old restaurant was more than double the size. The space used to be an old sheep barn, so the sheep play a prominent roll throughout the menu design. The menu, by chef Katy Sparks, offers chilled seafood and ceviche, as well as salads. From there, the menu is split into 3 sections: The Hearth (coming from a wood burning oven), the Grill, and The Plancha (a Brazilian griddle). I expected it to be over the top and ridiculously expensive. It was certainly tourist pricing, but it wasn’t as ridiculous as I thought it was going to be (most small plates/apps were $12-$18 with entrees around $24-$34 with the exception of a $54 New York Strip Steak). The bread is served as crispy (possibly cheesy?) thin breadsticks and long thin rolls with an impressive dip. I believe it had sheeps’ milk yogurt, feta cheese, oil, cumin seeds, rosemary, thyme, and a few other things. It was quite enjoyable. We started with the Serrano Ham, Cave-Aged Gruyere and Sage Toast, and Anchovy-Caper Sauce. It was a delicious nibble, though a tad bit greasy on the fingers. I liked the combination of ingredients and it was different and a little bit special. Though for $18, it was still a very small portion of grilled cheese. We also tried the Fried Local Duck Egg on a Spring Onion and Smoked Ricotta Crostata with Anchovies and Oil-Cured Olives. I really enjoyed the rustic crostata which had a great flavor (though when eaten on its own, was a tad bit dry) and the ricotta mixed with the egg and salty anchovies and olives was a very nice combination. For entrees, we got the Heritage Breed Pork Chop, Wood Roasted Rhubarb and Fennel with a Local Honey and Verjus Sauce. This had a unique flavor with the rhubarb and fennel. I wish it were a bit more sauced (or thicker sauce?) because I found the dish a bit flat. Good, but not great. We also tried the Braised Lamb Shank with Creamed Chards, Pickled Golden Raisins, Roasted Cauliflower and a Fresh Mint Gremolata. The meat was cooked perfectly. Tender, and fell off the bone. The meat itself had nice flavor, however, I wanted a bit more from the preparation. Again, a thicker sauce may have really set this dish apart, or more mint. I will say that I had one piece of cauliflower that was crispy and packed with flavor. It was great. Unfortunately, the other pieces sat a bit too long in the jus and weren’t quite as crisp. Shame. As for dessert, we went with the Ice Box Cake with Ruis rye bread, maple-rye whisky pudding, sour cherries, maple walnut pralines. The jar that came out felt especially small for the $13 price tag, but there was something about it that was strangely interesting. It was basically pudding and bread crumbs, but somehow it tasted new and fresh. We also got the Spring Pavlova with Matcha Green Tea curd, macerated organic strawberries and rhubarb, chantilly cream. I LOVE pavlova, so I cannot NOT order it when I see it on a menu. This very was very interesting with the Matcha green tea. There was also something salty that I really enjoyed in this. Added a depth to the flavors. The pavlova itself wasn’t as crispy as I like my meringue, but it was still tasty. Overall, I enjoyed my meal at the new Tavern on the Green. If it were priced a few dollars cheaper on each dish, it would have been a much better meal. It just didn’t have value. But it did have appeal. Tourists will flock here, and there were a fair amount of children dining there, so families will enjoy it for a nice meal out where they can feel comfortable bringing the kids, however, I’m not sure it will regain its stature as a “go to” restaurant for the food. (Then again, it never was the “go to” for the food!) From what I heard, this is going to be quite the undertaking. They will owe the city licensing fees of either 6% of the total restaurant sales or $1 million dollars, whichever is greater. This will mean that they will need to make $17 million in their first year, which translates to about 1,200 meals on Saturdays and Sundays and 600 meals per day each week day. I don’t know if I’ll go out of my way to go back, but I’m glad we got to try it, and part of me hopes it sticks around because I’m a sucker for NYC nostalgia, especially in dining. Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10
We live near Broadway, so we go out in the area more than most. The Broadway/Times Square area is not known for having great food. There are some gems, but almost the entire area is over priced, over crowded, and underwhelming.
We were looking for another hidden gem so I pulled open my Immaculate Infatuation app and found their recommendation for Tenpenny. They had a reservation at the right time (and wound up being pretty empty at the early, pre-theater hour we visited) so we went for it. It is also within walking distance of Grand Central station, so it’s located near a lot of places where I am frequently asked to find restaurants.
Tenpenny is located in the Gotham Hotel on 46th Street. The restaurant has a great feel and you certainly wouldn’t believe you’re right in the middle of all the city action here.
There is a skylight in the back that offers a lovely NY high rise view and lots of sun light on a nice day like when we went.
Immaculate Infatuation also had mentioned crispy artichokes (which are one of my favorite foods ever), however, they were not on the menu this time. ::sad face::
The bread was a really nice crispy crust and fluffy inside. And I really enjoyed the garlic and rosemary sliced into the olive oil. (The other was red pepper flakes, so I had to stay away).
We tried the OPP or “Other People’s Pinot.” It was a Pinot Noir and we really enjoyed it.
It was from a winery called Mouton Noir and I really enjoyed the cap.
We decided to start with the crostini and we tried the smoked salmon & dill creme fraiche crostini and the crispy pork belly, spiced yogurt & fuji apple crostini. The smoked salmon and dill one was okay (though I’m not a huge fan of salmon) but I really enjoyed the crispy pork belly.
The bread on both was fantastic and I really enjoyed the pork and apple combination on the second one.
Mike went with the Lamb Porterhouse which was cast iron seared Colorado lamb with house butter. It had a great lamby flavor that we both really enjoyed.
I chose the Heritage Pork Rach which was house brined, pan seared, and served with bourbon pork jus.
There was a really nice sear on the chop and it was surprisingly juicy and tender all throughout. The bourbon jus was also a really great compliment.
It also came with a small onion tartlet that I really enjoyed. The onions were perfectly caramelized and the pastry itself had great flavor.
Tenpenny serves their entrees as mostly just the meat, so you do need to get a side on its own (which definitely puts the meal further into the pricey category). We chose the brussels sprouts. They were delicious and the way we like them (with pork) but weren’t as crispy as we like. We are quite particular about our brussels, however!
We then decided to try some dessert, and we started with 2 glasses of after dinner drinks. I chose a dessert wine and Mike got a port.
Mike chose the pecan pie with cinnamon gelato and caramel sauce. This was quite good. The pecans were nicely cooked without being over sweet, and the pastry was a nice compliment to the sweetness.
I went with the chocolate caramel mousse with espresso anglaise and toasted hazelnuts.
The mousse was the perfect texture with the crisp chocolate on top and cookie-like crust on the bottom. Really nice dessert and looked beautiful.
Overall, Tenpenny was a great find. A bit expensive (especially since the entrees don’t really come with any sides), but the quality is there to make it a worthwhile place to eat and worth the midtown price tag. It’s hard to get away from a costly meal in that area of town, but with the others being much lower quality, I think Tenpenny is a great place to go. All our food had great flavor and was cooked and presented with obvious care. It’s also just a nice place to spend an evening. We sat and leisurely enjoyed our meal and drinks.
Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10