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Is Tavern on the Green Really That Bad?

I moved here from Chicago back in June.

My mom is coming into town, and as a treat to me for my birthday, and to experience it for herself, she chose Tavern on the Green. I'll be turning the ripe old age of 28. She's 57 and we'll be accompanied by my younger brother (23) and my boyfriend (27). None of us are country mice by any means, but we're also not big city spenders.

I don't know much about it, other than it's considered some kind of New York City institution.

I've read things that have ranged from "excellent" to "the worst dining experience of my life". That may be true of most places in terms of people having a range of opinions, but I'd like your Chowhound-opinion.

Of course I realize there are probably hundreds of other places that serve up better food and just out and out haters of the place that feel it's a tourist trap.

What I want to know is: are most people's feelings towards it strong enough to recommend I cancel our reservation and choose something else?

TIA.

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  1. It's fine, don't cancel. (But it used to be terrible years ago.)

    There is better food out there, but if your mom wants Tavern, go to Tavern. Just avoid fish dishes. These suffer the most, I find, at places without expert chefs. Also, avoid bottled water. Ask for "tap water" and you'll keep the bill to a reasonable level.

    2 Replies
    1. re: NAtiveNewYorker

      Native NYer, with all respect, when you have to worry about the fish not being very fresh or well-prepared, doesn't it stand to reason you might also worry that the chicken or meat or greens are not up to snuff? I left there ANGRY the last time I went. What they charged for inedible food was an embarrassment to them, and they didn't get the concept of pride of product or service.

      1. re: sing me a bar

        "Surf" is, in my opinion, more sensitive to mediocre preparation than "turf." When I eat at college and social clubs, this rule has helped a lot. And TOTG is similar. Special place...basic food.

        It's not that bad. Fun to make fun of, but really not that bad. And an historic place. (Used to hold the sheep that roamed Sheeps Meadow. Many films have been shot there.)

        I feel the same about Sardi's, BTW...

    2. I have a friend who waits there and laughs about "taking money from tourist".

      1. I would definitely cancel your reservation. I went for the first time about a year and a half ago with someone from out of town; it was mediocre food with poor service. If you want to have a good time, please check this board for some highly recommended restaurants. Tavern on the Green is definitely a tourist trap.

        1. Please cancel the res. You will feel like you just wasted $200+ on a meal for 4.

          1. I went there for vday several years ago and the meal was TERRIBLE and a rip-off