Best of Tabla: 5 Favorite Things

1) Chutneys and sauces: Cardoz proves that Indian cuisine, like Mexican, has as many great sauces in its repertoire as French.

2) Nonalcoholic drinks: Wonderfully fresh house-made citrus sodas make pregnant ladies feel festive. Husbands are likely to swipe more than their share of sips. Pomegranate gimlet is delightful for post-partum partaking.

3) Clear division between upstairs and downstairs: The spaces know what they are, and customers get what they want. Bread Bar feels more straightforwardly Indian, from the warm family style service, to the casual and varied attire of customers (tweed to Timberwolves jerseys). Upstairs feels far more French, but playfully so. If Parisian chefs ever mined North African food with the commitment and grace that Cardoz brings to Indian, they might produce a similar winner.

4) Wine list: Best wine list in the city for complementing assertively spiced haute cuisine, and its casual counterpart. Selection of whites has never disappointed in Bread Bar meals, especially surprising rarities like Argentine Torrontes. Reds are fun when dining upstairs, though long staircase dissuades me from overindulging.

5) Grapefruit spoons for kolfi: Charming and cheerfully proffered solution to eating a sometimes rock-hard ice cream like confection. For my money, Kolfi is tastier when warmer and softer, but if authenticity must be served, this is the way to do it. These days, I only bring out my grapefruit spoons once a year when the Albritton order arrives. If I can figure out the recipe for the chocolate dipped chocolate kolfi, I’ll have a second excuse!

Wish list: 

A composed cheese plate with Town’s elegance and Tabla’s flavor palette.

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3 Responses to “Best of Tabla: 5 Favorite Things”

  1. Spicy Mina: Porn Star Name, Rock Star food « Fat and Happy Food Slut Says:

    […] Tabla’s better half: Time and budget permitting, give this itinerary a whirl: Go to Tabla and and Jean […]

  2. FaHFS Says:

    Recently made a return visit to the Bread Bar. A few quick thoughts. Service, from host station folks to floor manager to servers to runners was flawless and intuitive. Especially good at balancing non-alc drink orders with three cocktail fans mixing up straight drinks with off menu variations. Eventual combo of parallel and series consumption of cocktails, mocktails and wine–some double fisting; some moving definitively from one to the other–should have but did not provoke confusion.

    Ample options on the downstairs tasting menu left me glad I stayed off the a la carte menu: I never could have gotten so many choices by the rest of the table! I was particularly taken by the chocolate kulfi this time–no temperature or texture problems this round, same great serrated spoon. Chicken tikka was also memorable. I often wonder how much ingredient quality matters when technique is so good and food is so assertively spiced as it is with most masala preps–it still does. The Murray’s chicken Cardoz uses makes for much tastier and meatier morsels than the paultry poultry most restaurants make do with in this dish.

    Four veg preparations also stood out, a rarity in recent restaurant experiences–Greenmarket heirloom tomato salad (a no brainer at this time of year but often done badly), a corn chaat, a Goan guac and yellow squash sticks cooked up like virtuous but virilely seasoned french fries.

    Finally, funny to see lamb “riblets” the same day the Times had an article on beef riblets as Applebee’s go-to high margin meat dish. Of course, Applebee’s charges 18 bucks and Tabla had them for 8.

    Wrapup: I will concede that the tasting menu is no bargain, but it also had no duds. Left feeling better than when I went in and woke up feeling just fine, too. No food sweats late at night, no hangover today, no excessive damage to the credit card. One for the win column.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Chef Cardoz impresses me in an area rarely talked about in reviews of white table cloth restaurants: He actively works to hire and develop the careers of people of color in the front and back of house. It’s not something Tabla touts; it’s just something they do and do well. I notice this every time I eat upstairs or down, or at the bar. He has also helped with causes pertinent to communities of color, like Katrina relief, and continued to do so long after it stopped being a cause célèbre.

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