Monday, August 03, 2009

Ending the Holiday on a High Note

After two weeks, two countries, over 2,000 miles (by road) through five states and one province, our holiday came to an end this evening - but I have to say the last day of this holiday was definitely one of the best.

I had always wanted to dine at the iconic Tavern on the Green in Central Park West. Since it first opened in 1934, Tavern on the Green has been an integral part of the social history of New York City. It closed briefly in the 1970’s, only to re-open in 1976, transformed into a glittering palace of glass and mirrors. Since then it has been at the heart of New York social life, and has hosted many celebrities, Broadway and film premiere parties. We decided that an early lunch there would be a fitting end to a wonderful family holiday.

Both inside and out, this venue is stunning. Surrounded by gardens filled with colorful lanterns and topiary, this miniature crystal palace is an homage to the over the top glamour of old New York and Hollywood. As you enter the restaurant, you walk through halls lined with hundreds of tiny mirrors into the beautiful dining room. The walls are painted with murals of birds and gardens and crystal chandeliers sparkle overhead.

The menu is incredibly diverse and offers plenty of choice and price points. There was a set lunch of three courses at around twenty-five dollars and another at thirty nine dollars, in addition to an excellent a la carte menu. The wine list also had selections at every price point, from the very reasonable Rose Row house wines priced at thirty-six dollars a bottle through to mid priced wines and of course, the extremely expensive. It’s the most accessible iconic restaurant I have ever visited. We tasted all ends of the menu - my son ordered from the twenty-five dollar set menu, my husband from the thirty-nine dollar menu and I ordered from the a la carte selection. We chose a Merlot from the Rose Row selection. I like to try a restaurant’s house wines as I believe it is integral for every restaurant to have good, reasonably priced red and white wine on their list. It’s easy to choose a good expensive wine, but not necessarily as easy to choose one that suits most pockets. It’s worth pointing out here that Tavern on the Green actually offered a choice of not one, but two house reds and two house whites.

We all enjoyed our lunches. My husband and I both started with a delightful lobster bisque which was beautifully presented and full of good size pieces of lobster. My son had the iceberg lettuce wedge which he found unremarkable, but frankly there is not much you can do with a wedge of lettuce so it is hard to fault them for that! For main course, I had a tender and delicious grilled filet mignon flat iron steak served with a basil balsamic chimichurri. It was accompanied by tempting garlic butter French fries and a light salad of cucumber, tomato and Bermuda onion. It all tasted just as good as it sounds! Both my husband and son had Porterhouse burgers served with bacon and cheese, and both said they were wonderful. There were lots of tempting desserts on offer (although I had more choice as I had ordered a la carte). Once again, my husband and son chose the same thing - crème brulée served with an almond tuile. I was allowed to taste - in fact my husband gave me his whole almond tuile - and both the biscuit and the crème brulée were utterly scrumptious. I had chosen Strawberry Shortcake, which I also shared, and which was equally delicious. What a wonderful place!

As we wandered back out in to the sunshine, the doorman met us and asked us if we needed a lift. There was a horse and carriage standing by, and also a taxi, so my husband jokingly said, “What kind?”. Without batting an eyelid the doorman said, “Horse and carriage, taxi, limousine or helicopter transfer?” That sure answered our question!! In the end, we decided we had enough time to take a horse and carriage ride through the west side of Central Park, past Strawberry Fields and through the wonderful old trees. It was idyllic, a fantastic end to a wonderful holiday.

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