From its perch in Central Park west, the elegant, multi-chandeliered Manhattan institution is said to have been in steady decline after peaking in the 1980s.
Its reputation as overpriced with mediocre service and cuisine are said to have been its ruin.
We strolled past one perfectly misty October afternoon and have always regretted not popping in for a cup of tea and dessert or a stiff drink. But, hey, we’re no sucker and we’re glad we saved our dough for Nobu.
But still. To imagine Tavern in its former glory… sigh.
We especially like this New York Times reader’s comment:
“A family celebration and Mr. Woody Allen in a room next door. We discussed the pronunciation of Moet. All I could think was that he would ask me to play in his band as a ten-year old clarinetist.”
The taste of a place you’ve never been to — leafy green trees in summer or polka dotted with white lights during winter, sparkling crystal, porcelain tea pots, a wealthy, elderly relative treating you after a matinee. Close your eyes. Invent some memories. Cook these recipes:
Tavern on the Green’s Maine Lobster Bisque
2 ½ cups dry white wine
10 cups fish stock
2 -1 ½ lb. lobsters
4 oz. butter
8oz onions, chopped
4oz carrots, chopped
4oz celery, chopped
10 oz. tomatoes, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 oz. tarragon
pinch cayane pepper
2/3 tsp. paprika
1 clove garlic, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Poach lobsters in rapidly boiling wine and fish stock for 6 minutes.
When cool enough to handle, remove meat from shell, discard coral and tomally, reserve shell and cooking liquid. Refrigerate meat and coarsley chop the shells.
In a separate stock pot, melt 4 oz. butter. Add onions, carrots, celery and tomatoes. Cook til tender.
Add the shells and cook til red. Add brandy and flambe. When flames go out, add 2 cups white wine, bay leaf, tarragon, a pinch of cayane pepper, paprika and garlic.
Saute mixture for approx. 2 minutes. Add reserved cooking liquid and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.
Add 4oz roux and cook 30 mins. more. Puree contents in a blender or food processor, strain well. Return soup to stock pot and add chopped lobster meat, heavy cream, salt and pepper.
Finish soup with creme fraiche mixed with tarragon and serve.
Tavern on the Green’s Chicken Francais
4 (6-oz. ea) boneless skinless chicken breasts
flour, for dredging
2 ounces clarified butter
1 cup white wine
2 small shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt and white pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons Dijon-style whole grain mustard
1/2 cup heavy cream
Pound chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap to make uniform thickness for even cooking. Dredge chicken breasts in flour, shaking off excess. Heat clarified butter in saute skillet over medium-high heat. Place chicken in pan and saute until cooked halfway through, about three minutes. Reduce heat to medium.
Turn over chicken and add minced shallots and garlic, cooking one minute until you can smell the aroma of garlic. Add wine to deglaze pan. Season with salt and pepper. Add mustard and stir into sauce. Let sauce cook for two minutes to reduce, then add heavy cream. Let sauce cook for another two minutes to thicken sauce slightly.
Serve with chardonnay.
Mark Sewall, Tavern on the Green, Inn at Silver Lakes, Helendale
Tavern on the Green Cheesecake
1 b Cream Cheese
1 cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
2 cups sour cream
5 egg yolks
¼ cup heavy cream
½ cup milk
1 tbsp each orange and lemon zest
Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
Mix the cream cheese, sugar, salt and sour cream. When it is smooth, add the egg yolks, one at a time, the heavy cream and milk. Stir in the lemon and orange zest. Mix until smooth.
Pour the mixture into a prepared 10-inch cake mould. Set in a larger pan and surround with one inch of very hot water. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.