Tuesday, August 3, 2010
After working here for two months, I decided that I wanted to check out the food. I always rave about the food and suggest different items to customers, but can you really suggest something if you never tried it? I guess you could see what people like by asking them how they enjoyed certain items, but I wanted to see what Tabla was really about by indulging in some of the restaurants popular dishes.
Tabla is one of the restaurants in the Union Square Hospitality Group along with Blue Smoke, Maialino, Shake Shack, and some others started by restauranteur Danny Meyer. In the New York Times last review of Tabla, executive chef Floyd Cardoz received a 3-star rating which is quite impressive for a restaurant that boosts over 200 seats. A pinoneer to New Indian cuisine, Chef Cardoz uses Western technique to reimagine the flavors of his native land. Tabla is known for using only the finest local ingredients mixed with Indian spices to create an unforgetable experience.
The restaurant was pretty empty as my friend Kristen and I arrived for dinner around 8:30. We opted to sit at the bar as it was more of a casual dinner, plus I knew my fellow bartenders would take care of us.
Kristen, arriving earlier than I, ordered the Tablatini for herself while ordering me the Kachumber Kooler. The tablatina is Sky Citrus, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, and a lemongrass infused pineapple juice made by our pastry department. The tablatina is pretty delicious and will probably always be on the menu. The tablatina is garnished with a scure of lemongrass poked through a piece of pineapple. The kachumber kooler is another popular drink that is ordered way more than any bartender could hope for. This signature cocktail is made with Plymouth Gin, fresh lime, simple syrup, green chilies, cucumber, and a handful of cilantro. I don't know what fascinates people about the drink--the neon green color or the use of the cilantro, green chilies, and cucumbers in a drink. Although I'm not a big fan of the drink, people love it. I don't think its a bad drink, but there's too much vegetation for my liking. We also got a watermelon mojito which is a frozen drink that everyone seems to love. The mojito is made with fresh watermelon, mint, cruzan rum, simple syrup, and lime juice. The mixture is put in the frozen drink machine where water is added for the frozen texture. This is a perfect drink for the summer, especially if enjoying Tabla's patio.
One of Tabla's most unique characteristics is the bread bar, which shares the same space as the regular bar. The allows customers to not only smell the wonderful aromas of bread, but to also see the process. The bread bar creates these delicious breads whether flatbreads served with a variety of chutneys or stuffed bread. We went with the chili-cheddar cheese stuffed bread which came with a spicy tomato chutney. The stuffed bread is delicious whether the chili-cheddar cheese, bacon, mushroom, etc.
What we ordered:
Crab Cake --The crab cake (seen below) is a pan-fried peekytoe crab from Maine served in a papadum chip atop a pile of Chef Cardoz's guacamole. The crab cake is bound with a fish mousse and crusted with Panko. The crab cake excites the palate as you get flavors such as garlic, ginger,coriander seed, cumin, cayenne, and lime zest to name a few. One of Tabla's more popular dishes and now I know why.
Black Pepper Prawns --Although extremely excited for prawns, I was rather disappointed with Tabla's prawns. They had decent flavor, but I was hoping for more flavor--more kick! I found the only taste I really got from the prawns was limey flavor. I was also disappointed with Tabla's decision to serve the prawns with the head and shell on. This gave the prawns a rustic look, which was cool but it made them a pain in the ass to eat. Lastly, It also upset me that the prawns were farmed raised, but thats a different story for a different time.
Soft Shell Crab --The tapioca crusted soft shell crab was definitely one of the highlights of the meal. The dish comes with two crabs halved with a side of diakon salad. The soft shells crabs are pan-seared and prepared beautifully. No wonder we run out of this dish so often.
Lamb Loin and Short Rib --Another highlight of the meal was this dish as it came with a duo of meat and a ratatoulle of green market veggies. Although the lamb and short rib were the star, the ratatoulle was a good supporting cast. The ratatoulle was made with tandoor roasted eggplant, shallots, and roasted peppers. The braised short rib was delicious and melted in my mouth. The lamb loin was also really good and cooked to a perfect rare. I would definitely order this dish again.
Onion Rings--The onion rings are a great side dish especially if sharing. The breading on the onion rings are a wonderful mixture of chickpea flour, wondra flour, onion, Aleppo pepper, cornmeal, corn flour, semonline, chaat masala, and cumin. I can definitely see coming back for some bread, onion rings, and beer if not trying to break the back on entrees.
I will definitely be back to Tabla to experience more of the menu. I think its an awesome place whether you're looking for a big meal or just a few appetizers. I would definitely recommend this place for a nice romantic dinner or for a beer and bread with coworkers after a long day. Come stop by!