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Has anyone tried the revamped Tabla?

c
clembeauchamp Mar 3, 2010 09:52 AM

Is it worth checking out?

  1. f
    FoodDabbler Jun 3, 2010 11:48 AM

    We had dinner at the new Tabla a week or two ago. We were seated downstairs. (Can one ask for upstairs?) I'd eaten at the bread bar on numerous occasions in the past, and I was a little disappointed that, despite the revamping, and the upstairs-downstairs merger, the downstairs room looked more-or-less as it had in the past, only a little scruffier. Our tabletop had a poorly repaired patch on it, visible throughout the meal.

    But we were there for the food, not the tabletops. We tried two of the flat breads, one stuffed (chili-cheddar), one not (corn). The cheese bread was little overly cheesy -- gooey and hard to handle --- and the corn a little dry. They were both very good, but could have been better. Also as starters we had the chicken tikka (a splendid interpretation of this usually abused dish), the samosa (more a baked pasty -- as in Cornish -- than a true samosa, yet disappointingly greasy), and a version of an Indian street chaat with crisped artichoke leaves where there might be crushed crispbreads. This last innovation was a failure. The artichoke leaves lacked the crunch of the cracker/breads they replaced, and were just chewy in places. Very little artichoke flavor remained. The sauce the dish came with was overly gloppy and tamarindy.

    We tried both soups on the menu. Both were excellent. The chicken dumpling was in a coconut base with a superb, velvety feel to it, the 5-onion was sharp with little onion flowers scattered in it. It's worth going there just for the soups.

    We also shared a main dish (baby pig with a vindaloo sauce), a stunningly beautiful mesclun salad, a side order of rice and a black bean dal. The pig was dry, under the these-days-obligatory layer of crisp skin, and the vindaloo sauce on the side a bit of an afterthought. The executive chef is Goan, I believe, and he clearly understands that vindaloo needs a proper balance of vinegar, garlic, and chillies, and a fatty meat to work its magic on (the overly harsh concoction served -- like a parody -- with chicken or seafood in many restaurants should be banned). But pork with a dab of vindaloo sauce on the side seems to me like a parody of a different sort. The rice and dal were respectable.

    I'd alternate in the past between the Tabla bread bar and Tamarind, and I used to rate them equally. I haven't eaten at Tamarind in three years or more, so I can't compare. But I've had two very good meals at Devi in that period. I'd rate them above the meal I had at Tabla, but only narrowly.

    1 Reply
    1. re: FoodDabbler
      r
      RGR Jun 3, 2010 01:28 PM

      No change in the decor throughout, i.e., bare tables downstairs, tablecloths upstairs. We much prefer uptstairs. And, yes, you can certainly request to be seated there.

    2. buttertart Apr 2, 2010 04:47 PM

      We were there for lunch today and enjoyed it very much - I had the shortrib samosa and the skate, and he the crabcake and the oxtail (which was spiced very similarly to the sweetish samosa filling). Had intended to go prix fixe but the main dishes we wanted weren't on the prix fixe this time. With the potato-mustard kulcha, and the sorbets for dessert (a very tart Granny Smith apple, a pineapple passion fruit that was lovely, and a blood orange), two pots of tea, and a bottle of the Roter Veltliner that went extremely well with the food (on the Sylvaner side but with more body), it was $180.00 with tip - struck me as a bit expensive for what we had, but it was delicious.

      1. t
        tabs Mar 30, 2010 05:14 PM

        Had prix fixe the other day - shared vegetarian and meat option - plently of food, tantastic flavors that reminded me of the orginal bread bar, pristine service and good wines all at a not obscene price. Obviously recommend it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: tabs
          r
          RGR Mar 31, 2010 12:21 AM

          The reason the flavors reminded you of the Bread Bar is that the template for the revamped menu was the Bread Bar's menu, which was truer to Indian cuisine than Tabla's dining room used to be. To that they added dishes in the Indian-influenced Contemporary American style of the previously more haute Tabla.

        2. r
          rrems Mar 4, 2010 02:59 PM

          Absolutely worth it. The food is fabulous and the price is right.

          2 Replies
          1. re: rrems
            j
            JeremyEG Mar 5, 2010 09:36 PM

            Just had lunch there alone and really loved it. That fish cake of the $24 menu is really interesting and delicious. Maybe it was just because it was in the afternoon but I found the upstairs to be more casual feeling than it used to. It was nice.
            JeremyEG

            1. re: JeremyEG
              c
              cookiez Mar 6, 2010 04:39 AM

              It continues to be one of my favorite restaurants...beautiful setting, great service, fabulous food and the breads are to die for.

          2. s
            steakrules85 Mar 3, 2010 10:00 AM

            The great RGR has.... and I believe she loved it. I'd ask her though for her opinion.

            8 Replies
            1. re: steakrules85
              r
              RGR Mar 3, 2010 10:13 AM

              steakrules, LOL! LOL! LOL!

              Putting aside that "great" business, you are correct. We've been there twice since the revamp. The first time, Mr. R. and I had a tasting menu which I found rather disappointing though he liked it. However, the second time, we were there with a group of 8. We all ordered from the a la carte menu, and everyone, including me, agreed that the food was delicious! I prefer sitting upstairs.

              Photos of our dinner at Tabla with 8 people can be viewed here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

              1. re: RGR
                s
                steakrules85 Mar 3, 2010 10:20 AM

                I have to admit Indian food is not something that appeals to me but some of those dishes look incredible.

                Specifically the duck, bass, halibut, cauliflower pakora. I may just have to try Tabla. Danny Meyer has some lineup... can't wait to try out that new Italian joint he has with some of my very good friends *wink wink*

                1. re: steakrules85
                  r
                  RGR Mar 3, 2010 10:58 AM

                  Steak, you should give Tabla a try, perhaps, sometime with "very good friends." ;) The menu is a mix of traditional Indian dishes and Indian-inspired contemporary American cuisine. When the restaurant had two different menus, the downstairs casual Bread Bar had the more traditional dishes while the formal dining room upstairs had a more "creative" menu. When they did the revamp making the restaurant one whole entity as Tabla with the same menu downstairs and upstairs, the Bread Bar menu became the base, and they added to it dishes like that delicious duck, which is contemporary American with subtle Indian elements.

                  Check out the menu on the website: http://www.tablanyc.com

                  Btw, during the warm weather months, there is a delightful outdoor patio.

                  Another Indian restaurant you might consider trying is Devi. It was actually the dinner Mr. R. and I had quite a few years ago at Suvir and Hemant previous restaurant, Amma, that introduced us to truly superb Indian cuisine.

                  There are also a couple of really good Indian restaurants along the stretch known as Curry Hill.

                  As for that Danny Meyer Italian joint, definitely a winner! :)

                  1. re: RGR
                    d
                    DJCard Mar 3, 2010 03:08 PM

                    In our opinion, Tamarind is the best of the upscale Indian.

                    1. re: DJCard
                      r
                      RGR Mar 4, 2010 06:22 AM

                      We went to Tamarind twice within a year after it opened. Our first meal was good enough so that we were encouraged to go again. However, the second meal was so disappointing, I've had no desire to return.

                2. re: RGR
                  l
                  LJW Mar 30, 2010 03:22 PM

                  Curious what you prefer about the upstairs? I'm taking my significant other there for his birthday this weekend, and am trying to figure out upstairs versus down. I want it to be relaxing and festive, pretty but not stuffy, and of course not too noisy.

                  Menu/cocktail/wine recommendations are welcome, too!

                  1. re: LJW
                    r
                    rrems Mar 30, 2010 04:07 PM

                    The upstairs is quieter and more formal. Downstairs, formerly the Bread Bar, is still more like a bar, and is noisy. I just noticed that my favorite appetizer, sweetbreads, is not on the current menu. The lamb raviolo, samosa, and crab cake are all worthwhile. Halibut, duck, pig and lamb are great main courses. For dessert try the Kulfi.

                    1. re: LJW
                      r
                      RGR Mar 30, 2010 04:28 PM

                      My reasons for preferring the upstairs dining room are exactly the same as rrem's Tablecloths, nicely spaced tables, fairly quiet, but not in any way stuffy. Casual dress is entirely acceptable. Since you're celebrating a special occasion, upstairs is definitely the way to go.

                      The naans are fabulous. The duck I had was wonderful though the accompaniments have changed. For dessert, my favorites are the soufflé and the doughnut holes.

                3. princeofpork Mar 3, 2010 09:56 AM

                  What is revamped about it? Is there a new menu or chef?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: princeofpork
                    c
                    clembeauchamp Mar 3, 2010 09:58 AM

                    http://newyork.timeout.com/articles/r...

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