Restaurants & Bars

PDX Tabla Review (longish)

Laurella | Aug 12, 200301:18 PM

Was just in Portland last weekend and our friend there took us to Tabla, 200 NE 28th Ave Phone: (503) 238-3777.

We had a lovely meal and as I haven't seen mention of it here, I thought I'd post something.

Tabla works on the tapas or mezze concept (though this isn't stated anywhere on the menu; the server lets you know if you're a new customer). Portion sizes ARE small, so if you mix and match you'll end up spending more than you might think. However, you leave the meal feeling satisfied and happy that you got to try so many different things without feeling stuffed. Saying that, we each had at least three things off the menu plus a bottle of wine and it ended up being $44 each including tip, which isn't too shabby at all for the quality.

The place was hopping and the waitstaff very friendly and not pretentious. I liked that about Tabla--though the crowd was somewhat hip and though I prefer it when the servers don't have to explain how the place works, I didn’t feel it took itself too seriously or that I didn’t belong.

I found the preparations to be a nice combination of classic and creative. I had the housemade pasta in truffle butter (super tasty), followed by roasted squab in Moroccan spices with fennel seed mashed potatoes. Didn’t taste much fennel in the potatoes, but the texture was nice. Squab wasn’t overly tender, but very nice nonetheless--it may just be the nature of squab. I also had local green beans in green onion butter. I thought the green onion butter was too dominant, particularly because the green beans were clearly very fresh and sweet. My dining companions started with the blinis with bay leaf and mushrooms—gorgeous—and the tuna poached in oil with a very garlicky flatbread. I liked the texture of the tuna a lot. We also had some bread and butter, noteworthy because the baguette tasted very similar to good ones I’d had in France. For ‘main’ courses, my boyfriend had the squab with grilled apricots wrapped in pancetta and filled with goat cheese (he really liked them, I think), and our friend had the roasted scallops and grilled artichoke hearts with lemon emulsion. I can’t remember any details about the scallops or artichokes, as I didn’t taste them.

The other two also had dessert, a peach pot de crème, which got pretty good marks, and the chocolate fondant, which was velvety and delicious, though one small bite was enough for me. My boyfriend has a thing for grappa and tried the domestic grappa made from Muscat grapes (there weren't any Italian ones on the menu). I certainly wouldn’t recommend it and I don’t think he would either. The start was nice enough, but at the finish it tasted, as he said, like bathroom cleaner smells.

I’m a reasonably picky eater, so I was excited to find that I had so many things to choose from that I liked. I would love to go back and try the lamb ribs or the duck confit. I believe there are sufficient vegetarian options, as well. There was some sort of baked egg on the menu that looked intriguing, and I think the pastas were all veggie-friendly.

All in all, a really nice dining experience. Anyone else been there? What do you think?

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