Saturday, July 28, 2007

Lunch at Tabla (Restaurant Week)

I did not even realize it was Restaurant Week. Tabla has always been one of those places strongly recommended by friends who know food and I was going to pay a visit sooner or later. Since I had to discuss some work-related things with a friend who worked in the building, I thought stopping by for lunch would be perfect for killing two birds with one stone.

Atmosphere: The decor was very interesting as I noticed a lot of colors in the design while I walked upstairs to the dining room. The crowd was a busy bustling lunch crowd, and I would imagine that this is the normal crowd even without restaurant week, since Tabla offers a prix-fixe lunch normally anyway.

Service: Seemed to be friendly when our main server was happy to take away our wine glasses and come back with water, except that she never came back with the water. She was then again happy to remove our bread plate and come back with more bread, except that she never came back with the bread. Like I said in my previous post, something like this could be caused by restaurant week, but she didn't seem to realize we ended up asking other employees for our water and bread.

Food: Choosing the best choices from a menu is usually my specialty. No matter where I am, I tend to be able to pick the right things off the menu to have as enjoyable a meal as possible. There were some tough choices here off the prix fixe in terms of traditional items versus more adventurous items, but in the end I went with the watermelon carpaccio, the pan roasted amish pork, and the tahitian vanilla kulfi.

The bread: The naan was nice and tender and the clear oil that was still all over it definitely kept it moist. However, I didn't get the real charcoal-y feel of the tandoor oven from this naan. It was still tasty though and we did ask for more.

Watermelon carpaccio: This was my decision to go adventurous and it just didn't work for me. Essentially it is some tiny slivers of spice-cured salmon mixed with a frisee salad over a thin round slice of watermelon. I thought that the watermelon would be very thinly sliced (as in carpaccio with meats) and be a sweet accent to some savory spiced salmon salad. Instead, there was a good amount of watermelon, and the salmon had a more salty flavor than a savory flavor. The combination of salty and very sweet just did not work for me and it was not refreshing in any way.

Pan roasted amish pork: This dish was very very good and is probably an example of why people I know give such high praise to this place. The pork was cooked and spiced perfectly and the accompanying broth with the fricasee of zucchini, summer tomatoes, and mustard was perfect. The perfect sweet and slightly sour kick to go with the pork and a hint of a spicy kick at the end from the mustard made this a memorable dish overall. Pretty decent sized portion too.

Vanilla kulfi: Living within walking distance to one of the biggest Indian neighborhoods in NYC, I come across kulfi all the time. This did not disappoint with a nice rich and dense flavor and texture, but what really made the dish was the accompanying warm ginger-peach compote with pecan streusel. I don't even eat peach but the combination was just so fabulous when mixed with the rich kulfi.

Except for the appetizer which might have just been an issue of my palate against the chef's, the meal was fantastic for restaurant week and certainly tempts me to go back and see what they can really do at a dinner service. To top it all off, there was a coupon equivalent to the price of the restaurant week meal for anyone who wished to go back for dinner during the summer. I will definitely be using that coupon before the summer is up.

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