Wednesday, June 16, 2004
In New York, I wanted to eat at some special places, places that New Yorkers really love. Reading the New York Collectors edition of Gourmet magazine, I happened upon a mention of Tabla Bread Bar. I've just recently discovered Indian "chaat" or snack food and Tabla sounded like a very upscale version of chaat. The places I've been for chaat in the Bay Area are nothing fancy but Chaat Cafe and Vik's Chaat Corner in Berkeley, are both great places for a wonderful snack or a meal.
Tabla bread bar serves small plates including soup, salads, "street foods" vegetables, tandoori breads and chutneys and raita. It was the perfect place to go with a vegetarian friend because the veggie choices are so varied. One of the more unusual dishes that we tried was the bhel puri--a Bombay street salad of puffed rice, apples, fingerling potatoes, tamarind and mint. The complexity of flavors and textures were tantalizing, it was crispy and refreshing at the same time. The kali dal was Indian black beans with caramelized onions, mango powder and green cardamom and a chunkier and fresher take on the usual dal.
We also had the Washington rhubarb chutney with ginger, red mustard seeds and chillies, sour and tangy with a crunch of seeds this was terrific with the rosemary naan, a puffed bread with olive oil and fresh rosemary. Another special of the day was asparagus masala; imagine a stir fry of asparagus with long shreds of coconut and mild chillies. Delicious.Tabla uses local and the freshest ingredients often cooked in traditional Indian ways to create a new and innovative cuisine. Tamarind margaritas were the perfect cocktail to enjoy with our meal made out of snacks.
In the summer Tabla features patio dining but the bar area is moody, sophisticated and inviting. This is a place to enjoy Indian fusion cuisine, lightly spicy, fresh, and everything is well balanced, truly a delight for the senses.
11 Madison Ave @ 25th