Tabla 2 & 3

March 13, 2007

On Monday, March 12, 2007, we dined at Tabla with Mary and Gregor. The atmosphere on arriving was quite different from our previous visit on a Saturday evening. (You could read our Tabla 1 blogpost of February 18, 2007, before reading this, as I am trying not to repeat.) The Bread Bar downstairs was not full; there was no loud music (when we left, there was tabla-34.jpgsome appropriate Indian music;) the greeter at the podium was smiling and sent us right up to our table, the same one in the far corner of the upstairs restaurant, which was only half full and never did fill up. During our last courses we were the only table left and I could hear all of our conversation. Monday seems to be a good night to dine at resturants which are noisy when full.

We ordered the Chef’s Market Menu with wine pairings again. Some of the dishes were changed from the previous menu; some were the same, but better prepared; and some were just the same. As before, we started with a bowl of light cumin-rice puffs in various fantasy shapes accompanied by tomato chutney. A delicious small cup of hot cauliflower soup with yoghurt, lime juice and cumin followed. A plate with a lovely, puffy, buttery, hot sourdough naan arrived with a green apple dipping sauce. Under it was a corn roti, which we had not had the last time and was less interesting. This plate was renewed halfway through the meal; the naan could be used for scooping up the last of the sauces in any course. 

The amuse-gueule was:

Crisped Sardine, Rock Shrimp Balchao and Duck Terrine.

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tabla-31.jpg

Second:
Black Sea Bass cru
Grapefruit Ginger Consomme, Candy Cane Beets, Mint & Fennel Seed   
 Vino Spumante, Valentino Brut Zero (Monforte d’Alba, Italy) 1996 

This was quite different from the hamachi and striped bass with apple sorbet we had as the raw course the last time. The sea bass was a good choice to stand up to the spices, but I missed the nice contrast with the apple. 

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tabla-32.jpg

Third:
Rice Flaked Fluke, Pea Shoots, Fennel & Linguiça  

Grüner Veltliner, Hirsch Vehliner #1 (Kamptal, Austria) 2004 

Compared to the first time we had this, the fish stood up to the linguiça, which was in smaller chips. But I suspect the fish wasn’t really fluke as it was quite flaky. Anyway, the dish was more successful. 

Fourth:
Fricassee of Lobster, Crab Meat & Sea Urchin
Tapioca Porridge, Fava Beans and Green Mango  

Silencis de Chardonnay, Raventos i Blanc (Penedès, Spain) 2004 

This was quite different from the equivalent course the first time which had been a straightforward large sea scallop in a coconut curry. This was quite complicated, but everything seemed to work together.

Fifth: tabla-35.jpg

Roasted Guinea Hen
Fall Braising Greens, Roasted Squash Puree & Spiced Quince Jus  

Pinot Noir, Hill of Content (Victoria, Australia) 2004 

Sixth:
Dry Aged Beef Striploin
Roasted Chanterelles, ‘Bacon Rösti, Black Pepper-Cumin Curry 

Zinfandel, Joel Gott (California) 2005 

These two courses were identical to the last time, except that the chanterelles had not been over-peppered, and were satisfying. The meat moved us along to more substantial food and to red wine.  

Seventh :
Pomegranate & Champagne Granité
Rosewater Macaroons 

Eighth :
Coffee Soufflé
Passion Fruit Ice Cream, Espresso Crumble 

The two desserts were also the same as last time; the big difference was that the soufflé had risen and was quite nice. Two of us then had exotic teas and we all had a few of the exotic little chocolate bonbons. 

tabla-33.jpg

The wines were the same or similar to those served the last time until the dessert. The white wines were all paired well with the cuisine, but are lesser, boring wines. The red wines were somewhat more interesting. Linda asked for red wine after the first course and was joined by Gregor after the second course. This request was cheerfully handled. Linda thought that the Long Island Cabernet Franc, which she was served as her second red wine, was surprisingly good. I still think that there should be a choice of two price levels for the wine pairings. Gregor would like to have a suite of beer pairings with the spiciness of this cuisine. He discussed this with the sommelier, Brandon Barton, who had been considering the idea. To me that much beer would be too filling, but it is an interesting idea for beer aficionados.  

tabla-39.jpg

A highlight was the two special dessert wines which Mr. Barton brought to us: a Hungarian 1999 Tokay (Királyud Tokaji Furment Lapis) and a 1976 Quinta do Noval Colheita Tawny Port. We all agreed that the Port was an exquisite wine. Some of us thought that the Tokay was at the same level and went even better with the dessert while Gregor didn’t care for it.  

ll in all, the experience was very nice with cheerful, efficient service. Strangely, some of the gaps between courses were longer than they had been on the much busier Saturday, although that was no problem as the four of us had plenty to talk about. A small printed reminder menu on the table was a nice touch which we didn’t have the first time.  

Tabla 3 

Good Friday, April 6, Lewis and I lunched at Tabla to celebrate our 2007 birthdays; the luncheon experience was excellent in all ways. We had a quiet table with a view of Madison Square and lunched à la carte instead of choosing either of the two menus offered.   

My crispy artichokes “Bhel Puri” were thinly-sliced baby artichokes with green mango, peanuts, fingerling potatoes, plus tamarind and mint chutney. Lewis had one of the chef’s signature dishes: Goan crab cake with papadum, avocado salad and tamarind chutney.  For main courses I chose spiced lamb tenderloin and meatballs, accompanied by baby turnips, black-eyed peas, apricot purée and kohlrabi. Lewis had the Rawa Crisped Skate with rock shrimp, sunchokes, savoy cabbage, bacon & kokum-brown butter jus. We were very happy with all of our courses and with our delicious Ceja Carneros (Sonoma Valley) 2003 Pinot Noir.   We skipped dessert. The bill was a little over $100 each, including tax and tip, a reasonable price for such a fine meal with a good wine.

Tabla 3 contributed by Linda.

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