Critics and customers alike have weighed in on New York City’s newly reopened Tavern on the Green in Central Park, and no one is too impressed.
After filing for bankruptcy and closing in 2009, the 150-year-old landmark received a $20 million, two-year makeover from new owners Jim Caiola and David Salama. They made the rooms more airy, tore down the old, imposing Crystal Room and added a gorgeous 300-seat courtyard and 110-seat garden area that looked out over Sheep Meadow.
It had all the makings of a hit.
Pete Wells declared: “It’s not a good restaurant yet by any measure.” He gave Tavern on the Green a “Satisfactory (No Stars)” rating, writing:
“In time, the kitchen may figure out how to get plates on the table while they are still hot. The chef, Katy Sparks, may rethink some of the overworked, under-delivering recipes. The hosts may learn how to read their reservations screen so they don’t tell a customer he’s the first to arrive and ask him to wait while the rest of his party is already in the restaurant’s inner recesses, wondering if he’s gone for a carriage ride. Somebody may tell the servers not to drop the check while people are still eating dessert. The sommeliers may turn down the thermostat so that red wines aren’t the temperature of a kiddie pool.”
And of the wine options:
“The wine list is reasonably priced but baffling, with mainstream hits and underground favorites and unknown quantities shuffled together, as if a hundred people chosen at random had been asked to name the last bottle they’d opened. Cocktails and beer are also available.”
Despite an initially positive first experience when it first opened back in April, the Post’s Steve Cuozzo returned to find that “Tavern on the Green is a very different, and much more crowded, place.” After a few bad meals, he gave the new Central Park restaurant 1 and a half stars. He wrote of the food:
“Dry, funky bluefish pâté in a jar, anyone? In a city of eater-friendly, breast-trimmed quail, Tavern’s little birds, served whole, challenge the most intrepid bone-pickers to extract a molecule of meat.”
And the decor:
“The design’s as schizo as the menu. The clean-lined, white-on-beige “Central Park Room” is a more fun place to sit now that its floor-to-ceiling glass wall gazes into the lit and lively courtyard.
Yet its airy cheer makes the dimly lit, peak-roofed “South Wing” — a retread of an annex previously used for parties and holiday-crowd overflow — seem dingier. So cramped that waiters slam you when they pass, it’s a must to avoid.”
Grub Streets’ Adam Platt agreed with Wells, giving the reboot a “No Stars” review:
“The wood-roasted Maine mussels didn’t taste of wood or smoke at all and were dappled with the kind of vulcanized croutons one usually encounters in a high-school buffet line. The trio of ceviches (salmon, yellowfin, and scallops) tasted vaguely of cleaning chemicals, and the smoked- and cured-fish plate would have been better if the organic Irish smoked-salmon portion of the dish hadn’t contained sand grit.”
Yelp reviewers were equally unimpressed with their food, noting that while the revamped restaurant and its view were extremely beautiful, the food wasn’t served hot and did not live up to the rather expensive prices. It currently has a 2 and a half star rating.
But hey, at least it’s pretty.