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Not a single restaurant in New York City (perhaps the world) can compete with a location that’s smack-dab in the middle of Central Park. Yet the iconic Tavern on the Green sat empty for the last five years--and was pretty irrelevant for the decade prior to that. (Had any New Yorker actually eaten there since Ghostbusters?)

But the landmark is ready to reclaim the spotlight.

After a complete overhaul, the interiors of the 144-year-old building (which originally housed the park’s grazing sheep) now resemble a lavish but relaxed country mansion from the 1930s (when Tavern first opened for dinner). Expect dark wood, gilded accents and an airy layout, thanks to the new open kitchen.

Diners can see firsthand that this is once again a real food destination, not just a bar mitzvah-rotating catering hall resting on its laurels. Chef Katy Sparks (of ’90s restaurant Quilty’s fame) is plating a menu of simple, local fare like marinated Vermont quail over creamy grits, baked Atlantic hake atop a potato puree and a bittersweet mousse using Brooklyn’s Mast Brothers chocolate.

It’s good to be back.

Tavern on the Green, W. 66th St. at Central Park W.; 212-877-8684 or

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