The Magic Behind the [Kitchen] Madness

A look behind the scenes at The Tavern Grill.
The Tavern Grill’s head kitchen manager, David Schwartz.

The Tavern Grill is one of Woodbury’s most popular restaurants; its killer food and drink menu, amazing patio and a top-notch head kitchen manager and staff seem to be its recipe for success. The relaxed and comfortable atmosphere revolves around the idea of sitting and socializing while enjoying wonderful food and service. With such a relaxing sit-down environment, you might be a little shocked if you were to take a step back into the kitchen.

Head kitchen manager David Schwartz has been in the restaurant business behind the scenes since he was just 15 years old, working as a day cook and washing dishes. His interest started then and continued to grow until his kitchen manager, Scott Ries, saw something in him and took him under his wing.  From there,  Schwartz learned all about kitchen prep and every aspect within every unique kitchen station. He’s also learned about managing people and showing fairness to his employees while still catering to their individual needs.

Schwartz has been with The Tavern Grill for nearly four years and notes it’s one of the best staffs he’s ever worked with. “I know the staff here as focused and dedicated workers but I also know them personally: who has kids, who doesn’t, what their backgrounds are, what they like to do in their free time. We work in hot, tight quarters, literally back to back,” he says. As for the vibe back there in the kitchen? “It’s like a really loud orchestra; it’s chaos, but everything fits together. It’s electricity. It would boggle the guests’ minds, but to us it’s just how we work. It’s loud, but that’s our communication. It’s not just yelling. Even in the chaos, it’s a very upbeat, positive vibe.”

Schwartz’s magic in the kitchen may stem from before his days working as a cook. Just before his teen years, he actually took an interest in magic as a hobby. After his mother took him to a show by magician David Copperfield when he was 12, Schwartz was intrigued, confused and excited all at once. He got a magic set, read books and studied the psychology of people’s minds. He even started booking private events to do magic shows. Though magic is now just a hobby, second to his love for his career, he’s still got the skills and passion. “One of the coolest things about magic is it brings out that child’s sense of awe,” Schwartz says. “You could give me a deck of cards and I could entertain anyone for a couple hours.”

Not only are Schwartz’s tricks in the kitchen and with cards magical, but perhaps his favorite magic is The Tavern Grill’s fantastic patio. “Maybe I am kind of biased, but I think it’s the greatest patio in Woodbury,” he says. “It’s really rare to go to a restaurant patio and you are basically secluded from everything. It feels like you’re transported somewhere else.” The patio, with its 360-degree full service bar, ample seating and fireplace, is the perfect place to sit and socialize while having a cocktail (or mocktail) before a night out or to just enjoy the company of friends and family. Customers rave about the patio vibes.

Besides a summer night out on the patio, another must for your Tavern Grill bucket list is the Sunday brunch. On Sundays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., The Tavern offers everything from fresh skillet caramel rolls to three kinds of eggs Benedict, biscuits with sausage gravy, made-to-order pancakes, garlic mashed potatoes and fresh carved roast beef with au jus and much more. Also, try the Sunday Brunch chef’s special, which the team determines each week.

Mondays are special at The Tavern Grill, with their popular Monday night fish fry from 4-10 pm for just $14. Enjoy as much battered cod as you want along with The Tavern’s famous coleslaw and seasoned waffle fries.

Is all of this sounding delicious or are you already a regular at The Tavern Grill? If so, check out The Tavern Grill’s Tavern Club. By joining, you’ll save 20 percent off your bill,  plus receive points for every dollar you spend at any Tavern Grill location to go toward future rewards and to get half off all tap beers.

Cheers to Mocktails and Cocktails

The patio at The Tavern Grill is one of its most brag-worthy features in the summer months. It’s the perfect environment to share a mocktail or cocktail with friends or family during happy hour (Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close) or any other time of day.

Mocktails are a growing trend for many seeking a healthier, alcohol-free alternative to cocktails. Maybe it’s the initial order at the bar, or perhaps it’s moving to a non-alcoholic choice after a cocktail. The Tavern Grill offers many mocktail options; note that mocktails are not on The Tavern Grill’s regular menu, but they will gladly mix you up a tasty booze-free beverage upon your request.
The Tavern Grill’s signature cocktail list is also a real crowd pleaser, from the gorgeous displays of mojitos, martinis and sangrias to the copper cups of many flavors of Moscow Mules: Georgia peach, blood orange, blueberry pomegranate, Minneapolis, fall harvest and more. Keep in mind that these delicious flavors can be infused into any mocktail as well. Order a Virgin Moscow Mule (just hold the vodka or liqueur) or a virgin mojito (just hold the Bacardi) for a mocktail that will look identical to the real thing.

The blueberry lemonade is also a great choice for those interested in a cocktail or mocktail—gin, lemonade, fresh blueberries and basil complete the real deal, or hold the gin for an equally delicious mocktail. Another alcohol-free refreshing beverage recommendation? The Tavern Grill’s special made-from-scratch ginger ale. The ginger ale is a unique favorite at The Tavern Grill and can also be infused with a flavoring of your choice: pomegranate, blueberry, peach, blood orange, you name it. It’s always made to order.