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POLL: Tabla Is Closing: Will You Miss It?

alexvb Sep 30, 2010 03:13 PM

The first Danny Meyer eatery ever to shutter, Tabla is closing at the end of December. Will you miss it? (I've had really mixed experiences there, but I have friends who love it!)

  1. p
    Pookipichu Sep 30, 2010 03:45 PM

    NO, it was a sad excuse for Indian food, Americanized in the worst sense.

    1. ellenost Sep 30, 2010 04:33 PM

      Yes. Even though I didn't go often, all the meals I've had at Tabla had been excellent. Sorry to see Tabla go.

      1. s
        sugartoof Sep 30, 2010 04:34 PM

        Great marketing at least. Too bad the food never lived up to it. Hope he gives the space another shot.

        Blue Smoke seems to be suffering from the same neglect.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sugartoof
          princeofpork Sep 30, 2010 04:40 PM

          For me, Blue Smoke is the worst BBQ in the city. SO overpriced and poor quality. Tabla was a great spot in the summer to sit outside and have tasty small plates.

          -----
          Blue Smoke
          116 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016

        2. f
          FoodDabbler Sep 30, 2010 05:01 PM

          Yes, I'll miss it. Not everything that Floyd Cardoz tried was equally successful, but he was trying to do new, creative things with Indian food. That's to be applauded. I don't see how his food can be considered Americanized in a bad way. His spicing of dishes was generally robust, even if it didn't set your mouth on fire, and the tastes were complex as they are with the best Indian food. In many ways his sort of fusion cooking continued the grand tradition of borrowing and experimentation that's always been a mark of Indian food. Many Bengali sweets are of relatively recent origin, the tandoor is an import (and cooking chicken in it even newer), etc. Ignoring "value" considerations, I thought the food at Tabla tastier than at places such as Nirvana or Chola, and more in keeping with the inventive spirit of Indian food.

          4 Replies
          1. re: FoodDabbler
            p
            Pookipichu Oct 1, 2010 08:55 AM

            FoodDabbler, I respect your passion for Indian cuisine, we have had very different experiences at Tabla. Perhaps my review is unfair as I am referring to its original incarnation and have not sampled the revamp.

            At the original Tabla, I ordered the tasting menu and it was truly uninspired, perhaps a dusting of cumin or hint of madras curry to suggest an Indian influence. It wasn't heat that was lacking, it was flavor. Average and overpriced French cuisine.

            At the original Bread Bar: limp soggy naan, bland tikka with dry meat and flavorless dal, lacking any heat. I rewarded neither upstairs or down with a return visit.

            Indian cuisine is sadly lacking in Manhattan, I no longer rely on Chola and have not been back to Nirvana since your last, lackluster review. Decline seems the norm.

            -----
            Chola
            232 East 58th Street, New York, NY 10022

            1. re: Pookipichu
              r
              rrems Oct 1, 2010 09:44 AM

              I was not excited by the original Tabla, either, but since the revamp it has been one of my favorite restaurants. I will miss it terribly.

              1. re: Pookipichu
                princeofpork Oct 1, 2010 10:30 AM

                I have been to Tamrind and Devi. How would you rate these on your spectrum of Indian.

                1. re: Pookipichu
                  f
                  FoodDabbler Oct 1, 2010 12:07 PM

                  And, likewise, I respect your knowledge of multiple cuisines. I can see why you might not have wanted to return to Tabla after the experiences you describe. My own initial experience was different. That was why I went back several times. The food was uneven, I'll admit, but I found it interesting. An account of my last visit there some months ago was posted here:
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6920...

                  Yes, Indian food is poorly done in the U.S., and poorly understood by diners and restaurateurs alike. I made some comments on the Boston area boards recently on how what is served as biryani in many Indian restaurants is not proper biryani at all, just some thrown-together medley of rice and meat. People have precise expectations of paella and boeuf bourguignon and mapo tofu. They should hold Indian food, too, to the same standards.

              2. e
                ekdd Oct 1, 2010 02:16 PM

                We have been to Tabla about 8 or 9 times and it among our favorite restaurants. We love the space and the food. For us it is a splurge restaurant due to the price but we always feel it is worth it. When I told my wife yesterday that it was closing she said "that's where we are going for my birthday!". Enjoyed the Bread Bar too.
                Definitely upset to hear of the closing ...

                1. t
                  taystahl Oct 1, 2010 02:33 PM

                  I will miss it. We live in the neighborhood and have greatly enjoyed the revamped Tabla. The Tabla Tour is a great value, and is delicious. Maybe previous posters had different experiences than we did (I've heard mixed reviews from friends as well, so there does appear to be some unevenness in the kitchen), but I don't understand the comment about "fusion in the worst way." Cardoz is doing something that few are even attempting (in NYC anyway) and in my view, he's doing it successfully about 90% of the time. If you want Indian-Indian, go to Saravanna's or Bhatti or one of the other places in Curry Hill...don't complain that you didn't get the traditional Indian fare you were expecting at a restaurant that never intended to do that in the first place.

                  1. m
                    mrnyc Oct 1, 2010 07:30 PM

                    i will miss the tablatini

                    1. e
                      eastvillager Oct 5, 2010 12:16 AM

                      great atmosphere, but given the location, the restaurant should have been much better--service was just okay.. i give mr meyer kudos for closing this one....

                      -----
                      Tabla
                      11 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010

                      1. NiveaF Oct 5, 2010 05:38 AM

                        Tabla...in it's heyday, was a GORGEOUS and AMAAAAZING dining experience. The Bread Bar was never anything to write home to Mom about, but the upstairs, the true restaurant was one of the best restaurants in it's day. My husband and I celebrated his 40th here, and it was a night to remember. Very sad to read this.

                        1. e
                          elisa75 Oct 5, 2010 08:05 AM

                          Glad to hear Tabla is closing. Means that something are right in the world. Went there once and was very disappointed... paid too much for poorly thought out food. It is a beautiful location though, so I hope something good goes into the space.

                          -----
                          Tabla
                          11 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: elisa75
                            Bob Martinez Oct 5, 2010 08:56 AM

                            Amen.

                            Faux Indian, preciously priced.

                            1. re: Bob Martinez
                              buttertart Oct 5, 2010 09:23 AM

                              Had a super lunch or three there when they were first open, had two subpar meals in a row (a dinner - with a dessert plopped onto a plate with a smear of orange marmalade as garnish -and a lunch last spring that featured the same meat in the samosa and the short rib curry, nastily sweet). No loss as far as we're concerned.

                            2. re: elisa75
                              f
                              fatema Oct 5, 2010 11:08 AM

                              My sentiments exactly! Expensive for poorly executed food. I was not impressed. Bad excuse for 'modern Indian' food.

                              On the other hand, we went to At Vermillion a couple of months ago. It's supposed to be Indian/Latin fusion. Interestting and well thought out food. however, since the restaurant is situated in Midtown East, it doesn't seem to attarct a lot of traffic.

                            3. h
                              Hark Oct 5, 2010 09:49 AM

                              It is true that Tabla is not always authentically (read as traditional) spiced Indian fare as a purist would know and crave Indian food. What sets this restaurant apart from more traditional Indian establishments is that the executive chef, Floyd Cardoz, is fundamentally aware that his restaurant's clientele are generally not typical Indian fare seekers. He knows that Indian 101, the introduction, is the way to go, because the restaurant draws so many customers that are not well versed in Indian food.

                              Repeat customers understand and appreciate this, even though, he has all the skills to set Indian fare ablaze with very strong flavors and copious amounts of heat. Floyd's genius is in his innate ability to bring reluctant and novice customers to an appreciation of Indian cuisine once they experience it. An example is my wife, who has an aversion to peppery spicing and strong pot herb flavors.

                              I also hope that Danny Meyer fulfills his promise to keep Floyd in his employ should Floyd want to remain as the food blogs suggest he may.

                              Yes, Tabla will be missed by my wife and me. Traditionalists know that they have to seek their heat and strong spices elsewhere. For the diners that need to temper that craving, Tabla is still that Indian fix for those among us that have dining companions who require less spice and still can enjoy the Indian flavors and experience.

                              1. m
                                montcouple Oct 5, 2010 10:04 AM

                                Tabla has always struck us as being toned down "white boy" Indian food and we won't really be missing it. Perhaps it had its place a number of years ago to introduce the masses to the joys of Indian food but now there are so many other more authentic, less expensive and more flavorful places that Tabla has become sort of an anachronism. Bear in mind that restaurants have cycles too, so better to go out on top (or near top) of your game than to turn into "the place that nobody goes to anymore because the food has become lousy".

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: montcouple
                                  princeofpork Oct 5, 2010 12:58 PM

                                  Please provide examples to your comment "so many other more authentic, less expensive and more flavorful places ". Please dont provide hole in the wall places as those cannot compare to the dining experience of Tabla.

                                  1. re: princeofpork
                                    Bob Martinez Oct 5, 2010 01:03 PM

                                    Dhaba is no hole in the wall. The food is first rate.

                                    1. re: Bob Martinez
                                      princeofpork Oct 5, 2010 01:32 PM

                                      Who said it was? I was asking for examples of authentic more flavorful indian places with a similar atmosphere to Tabla.

                                      1. re: princeofpork
                                        Bob Martinez Oct 5, 2010 01:49 PM

                                        You're moving the goal posts.

                                        You said :
                                        "Please provide examples to your comment "so many other more authentic, less expensive and more flavorful places ". Please dont provide hole in the wall places as those cannot compare to the dining experience of Tabla."

                                        I mentioned Dhaba because it's 1) more authentic, 2) less expensive, 3) more flavorful and 4) not a hole in the wall. That appears to meet your criteria.

                                        What you *didn't* say is that the alternatives had to have a similar atmosphere to Tabla. You just excluded hole in the walls.

                                        The atmosphere at Dhaba is fine. If your point is that Tabla is even nicer, I agree. The problem is that they don't serve actual Indian food.

                                         
                                         
                                         
                                        1. re: Bob Martinez
                                          princeofpork Oct 5, 2010 02:46 PM

                                          Great response. I guess I was looking for a place comparable to the atmosphere with more authentic flavorful food. Mission accomplished.,
                                          I will go to Dhaba and report back

                                          1. re: princeofpork
                                            Bob Martinez Oct 5, 2010 03:03 PM

                                            I think you'll like Dhaba as long as you don't expect a Tabla level atmosphere.

                                            Devi skews more towards Tabla's ambiance. The food is still Indian fusion but it's somewhat more authentic than Tabla. The caveat is that the chef (Hemant Mathur) just left to open a new restaurant. http://blogs.villagevoice.com/forkint...

                                            That said, his kitchen team is still there so I'd expect the food to hold up. I've had good meals there.

                                            Sifton just awarded 2 stars to Tamarind Tribeca. I haven't been but I'm told the ambiance is very good. It's anybody's guess as to whether Sifton knows anything about Indian food.

                                            Here's a couple of pictures of Devi.

                                             
                                             
                                            1. re: princeofpork
                                              s
                                              sugartoof Oct 5, 2010 09:17 PM

                                              Dhaba is contemporary and nicely designed, so they do have something in common.

                                  2. f
                                    FoodieA Oct 5, 2010 11:00 AM

                                    not sad at all. You will not miss much if you've never been, and not memorable even when you've eaten there! Just overrated I think. Not Indian food in any way....just American....

                                    1. d
                                      dbates Oct 5, 2010 12:52 PM

                                      I guess I'll miss it because, although not a regular customer, whenever I ate there it was always enjoyable. In fact, I had dinner there once with my wife that was one of the best meals we've ever had. I don't think it was luck. That said, I agree with the comment about Blue Smoke. I've also had less than exciting results at Gramercy Tavern. But Union Square Cafe is a gem. I'm thinking that the closure of Tabla is as much about the economy as anything else.

                                      -----
                                      Gramercy Tavern
                                      42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

                                      Blue Smoke
                                      116 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016

                                      1. gcwells Oct 6, 2010 07:05 AM

                                        I will definitely miss it although we haven't been there in a while to cut back on expenses. What I liked is that downstairs you could get the traditional Indian food, but upstairs was wonderfully exciting. I loved the surprising combinations. Good luck to Mr. Myers.

                                        1. r
                                          rrems Oct 6, 2010 11:19 AM

                                          I fail to understand the complaints about Tabla not being authentic Indian. It has never professed to be that. It is New American/Indian fusion, by a chef who grew up in a Portuguese community in India. To me the only thing that matters is that the food is delicious. Anyone is welcome to disagree with that, but lack of authenticity is not a valid complaint.

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