Tavern on the Green
There are few restaurants in New York so deserving of being called an icon. Originally built to house the 700 or so sheep that grazed on the aptly and still-named Sheep Meadow in the 1870s, the space became a restaurant around 60 years later. It’s changed much in the intervening years, passing from hand to hand, and skirting the edges of insolvency along the way, but it’s still here. Central Park just wouldn’t be Central Park without Tavern on the Green.
The building was recently restored and spruced during a hiatus, in time for its grand reopening back in 2014 under new management. There’s now bit more “tavern” in the decor (read: a lot more wood panelling) and more seasonality in the menu.
There’s a popular weekend brunch, offering everything from frisée salad with the Tavern’s maple brown sugar bacon and sherry vinaigrette to roasted figs, given a sweet-savoury spin with honey, goat’s cheese, bresaola and rocket. And at dinner, as the sun goes down and the soft glimmer of lights go on within the restaurant, the menu adds dishes like lobster risotto, whole-roasted fish, and the meaty heft of dry-aged sirloin steak with creamed spinach, garlicky fingerling potatoes and peppercorn sauce. There’s something to please everyone.
Reservations here are still de rigeur. And if you have the chance to choose where you dine, there are few better places to enjoy your meal than under the twinkling of lights in the trees, looking out at the bustle of the Park from a table on the terrace. And at the end of the night, you can exeunt through the gift shop; this is an iconic New York experience, after all.