Tavern on the Green

The Accidental Locavore Dines at Tavern on the Green

by Anne Maxfield on January 26, 2015

Accidental Locavore Tavern InteriorWhen the Accidental Locavore’s friend Laura mentioned that her besties were getting together at Tavern on the Green, the thought that went through our heads was what a waste of a meal. However, a week later I was begging her to let me cash in my honorary membership and join them.

What changed? The opportunity to see, early on, if the legendary Jeremiah Towers could make this a destination restaurant for the food as well as the scenery. I don’t know how much influence  he has had on the menu yet, but all of the food we had was well-prepared, with enough good dishes to make one not dread going back and a couple of real surprises (in a very good way).

The biggest negative this time was not with the food but with the patrons. It has never crossed my mind before in a restaurant that there should be some screening for parties with children. However, after sitting next to a rambunctious toddler, I would happily pay extra to be seated in an over-21 room! Kicking and thrashing neighbors aside, the meal that we had on a busy (Santa-com, mass protests) holiday weekend was easily the best I’ve had there.

Accidental Locavore Tavern Caesar SaladFor appetizers: mussels, Caesar salads and scallops made their way around the table. Both the Caesar salad and the mussels were big bowls, probably too big for one with an entree, but easily shared. The mussels had what was advertised as breadcrumbs but were more like croutons, which were helpful in soaking up the flavorful sauce. My only complaint would be the size of the mussels–let’s just call them dainty…. Not so dainty was the Caesar salad, with big leaves of what was billed as little gem lettuce, but which from a distance could easily mistaken for kale. And, while I can only guess at the overhead, $15 for a bowl of lettuce with dressing and a crouton?

Accidental Locavore Tavern Lamb ShankThe main courses were where the surprises lay. Feeling adventurous, I ordered the lamb with a red curry sauce. It was a well-braised shank, with the meat removed from the bone, in a slightly spicy Thai red curry sauce with chick peas and green beans that some poor commis, had to macramé into a love knot. Since the light at the table was dim at best, sadly, his knot tying skills almost went unnoticed. The best dish I tasted was the one I would be least likely to order, especially at someplace like Tavern – the (free-range) chicken. It was tender, juicy and tasting like it had been in the wood-burning oven. Totally delicious – definitely the best dish of the night! The pork chops looked good, and were fine, but not outstanding, and the strange combination of tuna with what was essentially pork and beans, remains questionable.

Accidental Locavore Tavern KitchenWe split a few desserts, all good, but no real standouts. Tavern could actually become a place to go for the food, but it’s walking a very fine line, and Jeremiah Tower has a tough job ahead of him. It’s possible that like my chef friend Pete surmises, that he could have been hired just to turn the place around, garner some good reviews and then disappear into the sunset leaving us with yet another Betony  overrated restaurant. We’ll see.







Lamb Shanks in Thai Red Curry

by Anne Maxfield on January 22, 2015

Accidental Locavore Lamb Shanks in Thai CurryAfter eating at Tavern on the Green, recently, the Accidental Locavore had the idea to make my own version of lamb shanks in red curry. This is an easy slow-cooker dish that served two with leftovers, but you can easily scale it up.

  • 2 lamb shanks
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (more to taste)
  • 1 Thai red chile, seeded and finely sliced
  • 1 can coconut milk (not low fat)
  • ½ can bamboo shoots
  • Green beans (about a handful, trimmed and cut in half)
  • Cilantro for garnish

Accidental Locavore Lamb Shanks and Bamboo ShootsIn a Dutch oven large enough to hold the lamb shanks, heat the olive oil over high heat. Salt and pepper the lamb shanks and add to the pan. Sear on all sides until well browned. While the shanks are browning, add the curry paste and coconut milk and stir to mix well. Add the lamb and pan juices, the chile and bamboo shoots. Cook, covered, on the high setting for 6 hours, until the meat is tender and falling off the bone. About ½ hour before serving, add the green beans. Serve over jasmine rice and enjoy!

My verdict: A work in progress. I couldn’t find the red curry paste so used a massaman curry instead. It’s a little milder and was good, but a different flavor than the red curry. I also took the meat off the bones when I added the green beans, so it would be easier to serve. Japanese eggplants, potatoes, or straw mushrooms would all be good additions, depending on what you were in the mood for. If you don’t have a slow cooker, just add the curry, coconut milk, etc, to the lamb in the pan and cook, covered for about 2 hours on a very low heat or in a 200° oven for about the same amount of time.



Pig Island 2014

by Anne Maxfield on September 8, 2014

Accidental Locavore Pig Island PigThe Accidental Locavore reluctantly turned down my invitation to attend this weekend’s Pig Island festivities. This shocking lack of priorities did not go unnoticed by the nation’s food bloggers; they have her in a secure location and she is currently being reprogrammed. She’ll be back with you soon, but until then, you have Zhu Zhu, which is Chinese for “Piggy Piggy” and thanks for asking!

And this is the century of the pig! Pig Island, in its fourth year (second at Red Hook, Brooklyn), provides ample evidence that we’ve learned to appreciate this amazing and delicious creature. $80 gives you access to all the pig, ginger ale and beer you can consume. The free water taxi
and a 30 minute wait in line will leave you in hog-heaven with 80 locally-sourced pigs and 30 chefs.

I noticed plenty of amateur eaters at this event.  Pro-eating Tips: avoid salad on principal. Eating corn bread, rice and noodles is not going to get you to the finish line.  But there were plenty of
seasoned pros who sailed straight through. I’m never able to resist pork-saturated carbs, so I steered a middle course. A short nap on the grassy knoll helped me make it to the end.

Accidental Locavore Pig Island PrepTop of my list (in order of eating):

Butter (love the name): served the most amazing chorizo tacos, seasoned with watermelon and serrano chile sauce. There was also fantastic banana bread with pralines topped with candied bacon.

Joe & Misses Doe: really great sliders, mouth-wateringly tender and perfectly flavored pork.

Randall’s Barbecue: more sliders, with definitely the best barbecue sauce at the event.

Waterfront Ale House: head cheese and garnishes on black bread. Really great. I tried, but failed, to eat a million of these.

Neuman’s Kitchen: Roasted pig, caramelized corn, bacon, pig’s ears and razor clams. Awesomely delicious and a nice change from the endless sliders.

Pacifico’s Fine Foods: crispy fried bits of pork marinated in fruit and lime juice, really great. They were also serving a peanut dessert dish, with a sauce made from salted pork and caramel. They were already out of the dessert when I found them, but they let me ‘scrape
the bowl’ and I managed to get two complete spoonfuls. Wow!

Accidental Locavore Pig Island SnacksGood but with some reservations:

Pizza Loves Emily: really delicious “mini-pizzas,” and I was excited to see them garnished with deep-fried slices of pig’s ear. I could live on deep-fried pig ear, but I nearly broke a tooth on Emily’s. But the rest of the pizza was delicious.  In fact, I ate several, carefully
removing the ear each time. I will definitely be giving them another chance.

The Merpig, perhaps because it was so greatly hyped, was a disappointment. This is an entire hog, wrapped in seaweed and pit-roasted. It was good, but not as amazing as it sounded.

Tavern on the Green’s dishes get marks for creativity, but not for flavor. Pork belly on ramen noodles and candied pork belly with garnishes. Disappointing. Pork belly needs no help. If you add something, it needs to be an improvement, guys.

Worst of Show:

Revolving Dansk wants to bring Danish street food (basically a hot dog) to America. Good luck on that. The “Polser” poses no threat to any hotdog truck in NYC. They also served a crackling pork and Scandinavian pickles on a toasted baguette​. That was modestly better.

Egg produced the only thing I couldn’t eat. An inedible piece of pork presented on a completely raw piece of dough. It was disgusting.

Pig Island is already on my calendar for next year.