Steve Cuozzo, who had a hot and heavy love affair with Tavern on the Green from the 1970's into the 1990's, was excited when he heard his ex was coming back to town. The first reunion, with chef Katy Sparks in the kitchen was a good one, but a few months in he panned the restaurant (along with every other critic in the city). Sparks left after only a few months and when Cuozzo heard Jeremiah Tower, the granddaddy of California cuisine, was taking over, he was skeptical that he'd do anything to fix it. This week, it's clear from Cuozzo's review, that the affair has officially ended, and there will be no more backsliding.
Readers, a promise: this is my last Tavern on the Green piece....And I promise myself: The meal I had the other night will be my last as well. The food from Jeremiah Tower's kitchen is better than it was under Katy Sparks, but not that much better.
Tower finds some strong appetizers like mushroom and mixed vegetable soups. But, main courses and desserts didn't perform as well:
Tarragon overwhelmed cold lobster in the half shell. Unseasoned, one-note vegetable risotto registered as a boiled-rice burlesque of the genuine article. So did zero-note basil risotto served with crackling-skin arctic char, which was, in fairness, as good as any I've had.
The critic hopes this won't be the dismal end of the once great chef — but no one seems particularly optimistic about that. Cuozzo's verdict: two stars, which is a half star more than he gave it under Katy Sparks.