Tavern on The Green

/ Sunday, February 15, 2009

Each year Steinhardt hosts its semi-formal at the Tavern on The Green. For New York newbies, a night at this iconic Manhattan locale is something magical. There's no denying the whimsical mood. Mirrors line the long corridors inspiring a fun house effect. Gigantic chandeliers speckled with jeweled toned glass hang from the ceiling. Topiaries outside are sculpted in the shape of exotic creatures (we had a giant gorilla right outside of the window). Then of course there are the famous lights engulfing the trees outside. 

For me, I see the Tavern in a different light. It reminds me of my childhood. NBC hosted its family Christmas Party at the venue each year, going back as far as I can remember. The entire space would be rented out for the NBC staff and their children. There was kid food, arts & crafts, santa hats with your name on them, spin art, sand art, Shirley Temples, live music, carriage rides, photos and, of course, the real Santa Clause. I had convinced myself that all of the other party/department store Santas were fake, but the one I met each year at the Tavern was the real deal. You'd sit on his lap, tell him what you wished for for Christmas and then you'd waddle off with you huge bag of presents (compliments of NBC Universal.) Usually you'd get some toys, an NBC tote bag or backpack, a lunch box, sweatshirt...things of that nature. So you see, when I go back to the Tavern I'm not thinking about the touristy glitz or the spot where Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson shared their first wedding anniversary on MTV...I'm remembering what it was like to be tiny, running around, thrilled that Christmas was finally here. It's magical going back, but in a different way. 

One thing's for sure, you either love or hate the food at the Tavern. What you're served is definitely mass quantity catering grub. For some reason people are addicted to their mashed potatoes. 

Our night began with a cocktail hour in a small dining room. Drinks were served along side a buffet of fruit, vegetables, cheese and assorted flatbreads, as passed appetizers made their way around the room. I was impressed by the appearance of mini sliders on one waiter's tray. Unfortunately my excitement waned as I bit into a soppy bun and a patty that tasted like it was sitting under a heating lamp for the past several hours. 

At the buffet I stuck to what I knew was edible. The roasted vegetable platter at the Tavern is consistently superb in my opinion. I loaded up my plate with salad, roasted zucchini, salmon and a taste of the potatoes/pasta. As expected, it wasn't inedible but it wasn't phenomenal either. Lets just say we go to the semi-formal for the dancing...not necessarily the cuisine. The salmon was definitely over done, but damn those potatoes are pretty killer. 

What I love, love, love about the Tavern is the dessert bar. Sheer heaven. Just keep me in the dessert room. There'd be no need for dinner, dancing or socializing. Lock me in the room with a spread of sweets and I'd be a happy woman

The spread included: a chocolate layer cake, a white cake with raspberry filling, a berry tart, flan, assorted cookies and fruit. Out of the larger desserts the mixed berry tart was my favorite. The simple short crust was sweet with a fantastic crunchy texture that didn't get soggy with the fruit & custard. The custard was smooth. The fruit was fresh. Over all it was a lovely dessert. 

My second favorite item on the dessert menu were the chocolate covered strawberries. There's something about strawberries with their stems on that is so completely elegant to me. Forget long stem roses boys, long stem strawberries are the way to my heart.
Question for y'all: Do servers at buffets make you feel uncomfortable? For some reason I was so put off by the lovely men who were dishing out the dessert. 

Carrie & I shared our desserts so that we could try everything without being complete oinkers. One other element of the dessert room I must comment on, the coffee. Whatever they were brewing was phenomenal. Thankfully it kept us up long enough to dance to the awful DJ's "reinterpretations" of the top 40 hits on the radio. 

If you find yourself reading this post & craving something sweet, try making some chocolate covered strawberries. They're a fabulous-fast dessert that can impress a special someone or serve as a delicious indulgence on your own. You can use many different kinds of chocolate, roll these treats in a number of toppings or play around with other types of fruit. The great news, there's many different ways to make these treat, they can be relatively low in calories & you can make them allergy-free. There could be safe for vegans, dairy-free, gluten-free or nut-free diners. 

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Recipe - Shortening 
16 oz dark-chocolate chips 
2 tablespoons shortening 
fresh strawberries 

1. Set a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. In the bowl melt the chocolate & shortening, stirring until smooth. 
2. Dip the strawberries into the mixture. 
3. Set the strawberries on a piece of parchment paper and let them cool. 

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Recipe - Cream
1/2 cup chocolate chips 
3 tablespoons heavy cream 
(same direction)

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Recipe - Oil 
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 
1 tablespoon oil 
(same direction)

Watching your girlish figure? Dip berries in just plain melted chocolate or sweeten some yogurt with unsweetened coco powder and a bit of Splenda for a creamy alternative. Enjoy!

1 comment

  1. It's only weird that they are standing there because of course you want to put one of everything on your plate! Who wants guilt in human form hanging over you lol.


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