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May 11, 2007 10:30 PM

Tavern On The Green

Is the Tavern all that it is made out to be, if not what would you recommend in it's place. 2 couples going Next month who want a unique New York experience budget and trave is no issue, we are staying in Times Square. Thanks

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  1. Tavern is nothing that it's made out to be. If you do a search there are many recent threads discussing the poor quality of the food. That being said, many have recommended going there for a drink and then heading somewhere else for dinner.

    1. Tavern on the Green is definitely not the place to go for a fine dining experience. And I've never been able to figure out precisely why out-of-towners think it's uniquely New York. Maybe you can explain that.

      The fact is, there are restaurants that have been around much, much longer and really do have ambiance that is uniquely NYC. For example, Keens, our favorite steakhouse, has been in its 36th St. location since 1885. So, in addition to delicious food, there is old NY ambiance, i.e., walls filled with memorabilia and rows of old clay smoking pipes suspended from all the ceilings. Definitely unique and unmatchable!

      If you would like to dine in a restaurant with a view of the Manhattan skyline, there's The River Cafe, directly across the East River, in Brooklyn. While the food is not sensational, it's very good -- certainly far superior to TotG. And the view is spectacular!

      Though you appear to be focusing on the upscale end of the dining scene, for other unique NY experiences, there are also very casual and cheap options. You might want to consider taking my (in)famous Lower East Side eating "tour." It will give you the opportunity to walk around a very interesting and historical neighborhood while sampling foods that are emblematic of NYC. I'm appending the tour here:

      LES Food Excursion

      For the quintessential NYC deli experiences, no place beats Katz's, on the corner of Houston (pronounced "how-stun") & Ludlow Sts. You're there specifically for the pastrami sandwich. When you enter, you will be given a ticket. Instead of opting for table service, do what the "natives" do and get on line for counter service. When you reach the counter, put a $1 for each sandwich in the counterman's tip cup and order pastrami on rye. He'll give you a piece to taste. If you like it (the best pastrami is juicy and has some fat on it), tell him o.k., and he'll make your sandwich, give you some sour pickles, and punch your ticket. Then, continue along the counter for sides – the cole slaw is good -- and drinks. Find seats at a table in the center of the room. (Tables along the wall have menus on them and are reserved for waiter service.) When you’re done, take your ticket to the cashier in front. It's cash only. Note: For the purposes of this tour, unless you have a gargantuan appetite, it would be best to share one sandwich in order to leave room for more tastings along the way.

      When you exit Katz’s, turn left and continue along the same side of Houston St. You will come to Russ & Daughters, famous for all sorts of smoked fish and many other goodies. It's not a restaurant, but they make sandwiches to go.

      After leaving the Russes, continue west a couple of blocks until you reach Yonah Schimmel's. Get a tasty potato knish, and make sure to ask them to heat it up.

      Now it’s time for the quintessential NY drink – the egg cream. So, reverse yourself and head east on Houston until you come to Avenue A. (Note: Avenue A becomes Essex St. on the south side of Houston.) Turn left on A and head north until you get to the block between 7th St. and St. Mark’s Place. Look for a hole-in-the-wall candy shop, closer to 7th, with an overhead sign jutting into the street that says, “Belgian Fries.” (The place’s official name is Ray’s, but there is no signage to that effect.) One of the women behind the counter will make you a delicious chocolate egg cream.

      When you’re finished licking your lips, go back to Houston St. and make a left (east) one block to Norfolk St. Turn right and walk down Norfolk until it ends at Grand St. Two places to look for at the corner of Grand and Norfolk: Kossar's, for freshly baked bialys (another very NY food) and the Donut Plant (self-explanatory).

      Next, walking west along Grand St., you will come to Orchard St. Turn right. At 87 Orchard, snack on a pickle from Gus's World Famous Pickles.

      Then, continue to 97 Orchard, b/t Broome & Delancey, where you will find the Tenement Museum. The tour will show you what life was like for immigrants to NYC at the beginning of the 20th century. (
      Once you have finished the tour, Il Laboratorio del Gelato, right next door at 95 Orchard, is a must for some of the best gelato anywhere.

      If your sweet tooth is still not completely satisfied, the final stop on this tour should do it. Continue ahead (north) on Orchard, crossing Delancey, then one more block to Rivington St. Make a right and you will find Economy Candy at 145 Rivington.

      Note: It’s best not to take this tour on a Saturday since some of the spots are closed because of religious observance. Also, Donut Plant is closed on Mondays.
      Hope you all have a wonderful visit to NYC and Bon Appetit!

      5 Replies
      1. re: RGR

        <If you would like to dine in a restaurant with a view of the Manhattan skyline, there's The River Cafe, directly across the East River, in Brooklyn. While the food is not sensational, it's very good -- certainly far superior to TotG. And the view is spectacular!> On the other side of the Manhattan skyline, The Pointe in Jersey City offers delicious food and beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline from across the Hudson!

        FWIW, imo Tavern on the Green hasn't had food worth mentioning since Patrick Clark died. They do a tremendous job of advertising in out of town papers and magazines, because they know no one from here is going to get near the place. It's a total rip off.

        I also recommend Keen's for a quintessential New York experience... or, Le Cirque!

        1. re: RGR

          Thank you very much for posting all the wonderful info, we will definetly be taking your advice.

          1. re: RGR

            Note to RGR: Katz's takes credit cards. The trick is to pay at the counter where the sell the salamis. This has the added benefit of not having to wait on the long cashier's line when you leave.

            Also, you will get your "taste" of pastrami whether or not you tip the cutter. In fact, I have gotten into the habit of not putting my tip into the cup until after I am handed the sandwiches and I always get the taste.

            Note to pwhite151: In my opinion, the negative reviews of TOG are actually very generous. TOG has to be among the worst dining experiences in NYC, both in terms of food and ambiance (it has the atmosphere of a factory). If you want to eat in Central Park, try the Boat House where (if you order right) the food is at least mediocre, not disastrous. But I certainly agree with RGR, that the River Café is more New York, has great views, refined service, and decent food. You will have a pleasant unrushed dinner there as opposed to TOG or even the Boat House.

            1. re: bobjbkln

              Re: Katz's and credit cards. Yes, you're right. I really should update/correct that. And you're also right about the sample of pastrami. But though tipping is not mandatory to receive the taste, it is a tradition which most people uphold.

              As regards The Boathouse, I've posted before that we had lunch there last summer for the first time. We went for the view and because we wanted to dine al fresco (though the dining room is protected). Given what I had read about the food, it turned out to be far better than I had expected. Very good, actually, and definitely not mediocre. However, service from our waiter was severely lacking.

            2. re: RGR

              Thanks for the Keens idea. I've lived here 10 years and never heard of looks great (reminds me of Jake's in Portland).

            3. We recently dined at the River Cafe. The views are breathtaking and service was excellent. We had the sauteed Hudson Valley foie gras, crispy pacific oysters, scottish salmon, black sea bass, chocolate sticky toffee cake and apple upside down cake. Go to for more reviews and menu (you can do the same for Tavern). Food was very good. The ambience is lovely (smell of fresh flowers when you walk in the door). They also have brunch. I would go the River Cafe for drinks and have dinner at The Harrison downtown in TriBeca.

              2 Replies
              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                i couldn't agree more about Tavern on the Green. I live just a couple of blocks away and NEVER go not even with my out of town visitors. It's true, it seems like they try to advertise to tourists b/c no one else will go so it's our job to spare you from this. Additionally, i think they also try to host several dances/single events/fundraisers there for the same reason. From the outside, it's cute b/c it's in Central Park. The inside isn't fabulous and the food isn't even worth a comment.

                River Cafe, Blue Water Grill, Keens along with many of the other recos (especially from RGR) would be the way to go.

                1. re: nativeNYer

                  The main room at Tavern is particularly gorgeous in a rococo music box sort of way. It looks particularly nice during daylight. The food however? nothing special.

              2. I agree that tavern on the green is NOT good food. Personally, I am not too fond of getting dressed up to eat dinner in a shi-shi restaurant. In my line of work, I have to take clients to over-priced dinners and I would much rather enjoy New York's thousands of interesting ethnic restaurants and things of that nature. With that being said, here is my list: 1) Babbo is near NYU/washington square park and serves wonderful Italian food (Another of Mario Batali's restaurants is Del Posto which has the most amazing strudel that I have ever eaten--if you don't count my Grandmother's strudel). 2) Aquvit: 55th st. between Madison and Park. Cuisine is Scandinavian and the restaurant gets raves from the foodies in the NY Times every year. 3) Balthazar serves French bistro food and is on Spring street. 4) Nobu serves good but expensive sushi to the glitterati of New York and is on Hudson St. 5) Per se is in the Time Warner building at Columbus Circle and serves an interesting fusion between French and California cuisines. Per se has a beautiful view of central park and I would probably rank it as the best restaurant view in the city. 6) Arthur's Landing is across the Hudson River from Manhattan. They are not as well-known or expensive as the others that I listed but the view is magical. You can take the NY waterway ferry @ 39th st and 12th ave across the river and voila, you are at Arthur's landing. Since it is right on the water, there is a beautiful view of the NYC skyline (especially at night).
                Of places that are less expensive but more my style, I am in love with Dervish (beautiful Turkish food near Times Square), Sarabeth's for brunch on the upper east/west side (she has 2 locations and each one as beautiful breads, home-made jams, etc..), Republic (Thai food in Union Square), Grilled Cheese NYC (the name says it all), Zum Schneider (German food 7th st and Ave C0--I like the schweinebraten or the rahmschnitzel), the Bohemian Beer Garden in Astoria Queens (a large number of wonderful Czech beers on tap and the best vepro-knedlo-zelo in the city), and the Russian Vodka Room on 52nd between 8th and Broadway (the food is--well what can you say--it's Russian) but the vodka selection is amazing. I hope this helps. Have fun on your trip.

                2 Replies
                1. re: ohromujici

                  Sarabeth's is lovely for brunch. You may also want to venture downtown and explore Chelsea Market (Food network is here). There is a Sarabeth's at Chelsea Market but it is not a restaurant like the 2 other locations. It is a cafe and shop. Sarabeth's award winning orange apricot marmalade is the BEST. There is also an Amy's Bread at Chelsea Market.

                  1. re: ohromujici

                    Slight spelling correction, it's "Aquavit" not "Aquvit."

                    Also, Sarabeth's has 4 sit-down locations + the Chelsea Market location. One of the restaurants is inside the Whitney, which is a bonus if you're planning to visit that museum anyway. Sarabeth's is best on the weekdays, when there's no wait. I love the scones, Four Flowers Juice, as well as the lemon ricotta pancakes.

                    Grilled Cheese NYC has closed.

                  2. I love the LOOK of Tavern on the Green...My advice is to go and have a drink there, then head to Balthazar for dinner!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jinet12

                      Balthazar is fun. It is a lively French bistro (noisy). Artisanal is another bistro, also lively.