I went to Tabla tonight with my chief historian, and we had an outstanding meal. Lately, we've been picky about where we eat, so most of our restaurant visits have been superb. This was our first trip to Tabla, and it was every bit as good (or better) as I'd hoped. Actually, it was sublime. Makes me wonder why it's taken so long for us to get down there.
As soon as we sat down, we were given a small ramekin of warm olives in oil.
I ordered a "Ludovico's Technique," a cocktail with my favorite gin of all time, Bombay Sapphire. It also included a slice of orange peel, Farigoule (thyme liqueur), Maraschino, Carpano Antica (I think this is a type of vermouth). Delicious and full of citrus flavors.
She ordered a "Glass Slipper," which is another cocktail with house-infused lemon verbena vodka, cassis, cocchi americano, and sparkling wine. Actually, our cocktails were somewhat similar, but I think I preferred mine - if only because I'm a sucker for herby cocktails. Anyway, both were awesome. I'm all thumbs when it comes to cocktails, so I can appreciate a good mix. These were delicious.
I ordered the bread service, just to spite my wife (if you're reading my posts for the very first time, she can't eat anything containing gluten). I was served some foccacia and baguette, with salted butter, from Pearl Bakery. Good bread.
My app was a sous vide egg, served with mushrooms, leeks, and porcini cream. This was absolutely superb. It was beautifully presented, as well. I am pretty sure there were some picked ramps there, too - either that, or the leeks were teensy baby ones that were pickled.
The texture of the egg yolk was great. I can't do this in a pan - I can get a nice exterior, but the interior is always runny. This was something different; the yolk was not runny, it was like a custard. Just a fabulous combination of flavor and texture. The best thing I've eaten so far in 2012.
She had the mixed greens, which included some quinoa, olives, citrus slices, and a yogurt dressing. Actually...these were outstanding. Fresh, crisp, and delicious...
...and each app included a spherification of orange juice. Nice.
The kitchen sent us out "potato chips with curry." The "chips" were paper-thin crisps, dusted with curry powder. I'm guessing dehydrated potato puree, perhaps? Anyhow, a nice snack.
For my pasta course, I ordered the most generic pasta I could find on the menu: cappellini with a beef/pork bolognese with shredded parmigiano reggiano. The portion was about the size of my (large) fist - adequate, but not super-generous. The pasta had a nice bite, and the meat sauce was delicious and well-seasoned.
This is the curried apple + Guinea Hen. It was served with miner's lettuce and sunflower seeds. It's on top of a puree of yellow carrots, with daubs of sultana puree. A fabulous dish, with some wildly contrasting textures.
The soup was a radish green base, poured tableside. It included a porcini mushroom foam and some pickled alliums. Delicious. If I had to guess, it was built on a chicken stock. But whatever, it was very tasty and utterly smooth.
We also had a Fever-tree tonic water.
My main was a beautifully composed course of charred octopus, lamb leg, beets, ajo blanco
, and almonds. Something had to have been done to the octopus prior - probably a braise, because it was charred on the outside but superbly tender throughout. The ajo blanco was a thick puree smeared across the plate. Anyhow, taken as a whole, this was again an excellent dish. Flavorful and full of contrasting textures. My wife didn't care for the beets, but I sure did.
My wife had the steak, werved with rapini, white bean puree, nettles, black olive, and almond licorice. I had a bite of this, and it, like everything else tonight, was excellent. Thank goodness for rapini.
Yes, we had dessert. This is the olive oil cake with honey gelato. I liked it quite a bit, but if I had to point to a weak spot in the meal, this was it. But what a strong weak spot. My mere criticism: the cake really didn't taste of olive oil. But still good.
We also got some salted caramel gelato. This was excellent.
I guess I'm entitled to 1 or 2 amazing meals per year. This year, Tabla was our first real hit. I don't want to detract from either Tanuki or Mi Mero Mole, because those have been uniformly awesome in 2012 too - but neither of them are really "event" or "destination"-type places. Tabla is. Because we're jerks at heart, we tried to find real fault with Tabla, and can't. Everything, from the service to the food to the drinks, was spot-on. Outstanding.
The final bill for this meal was about $150. It included all food, two aperitifs, one digestif
, two desserts, and a carafe of house red. Not sure it falls into the "steal" category, but it was still an excellent value.
- I am an employee of a Portland-based firm that has business relationships with several local food-related businesses.