January 2, 2008

Tabla Mediterranean Bistro (200 NE 28th)

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It didn't start out well. Our table was uneven and every time I touched the table, it bobbled. We were seated next to a loud and obnoxious couple on a date. Not good vibes going for us. My friend told the waitress about our table. I didn't really think they would do anything about it - I mean every place has those uneven tables. But within 2 minutes, they had actually replaced the table! They moved our drinks and napkins and place settings off the table and swiftly replaced it, then re-set our table. Nice. Eating dinner on a stable table is much more pleasant than bobbliness.

The menu at Tabla Bistro was really mouth watering. I was back on my order-salad-but-feel-free-to-sample-other-people's-dinners diet. Even so, the Endive Salad I ordered with salt-roasted beets, black currents, sheep's milk feta and caramel vinaigrette made my mouth water all on its own, without any help from chicken, pasta or steak.

The house-cured mixed olives I ordered to start were beautiful. And when I started eating them, they were spicy, salty and meaty, living up to the visual perfection they began with. It was a hefty dish of olives, too - with the Pearl Bakery bread we had with it, well it could have been my whole meal.

But thank goodness I wasn't being THAT sensible! The beets and feta worked together to tickle my mouth with flavors both sweet and tangy, the caramel vinaigrette shimmering on the plate was the perfect mix and I couldn't get rid of the notion that I was eating salad with caramel sauce on it. Though vinaigrette was much tastier than caramel sauce, there was a bit of sauciness to it.

Kristin ordered the sea scallops and Portuguese chourico with chick peas and braised kale. I've never loved seafood. But these scallops - they tasted like steak. They were tender and matched with the bold chourico, it was they perfect combination. The chick peas and bright green kale - such a sight to see and to eat. Mmmm.

I probably could have eaten both Kristin's dinner and mine, they were both so delicious. And the service - I mean seriously when have you ever eaten at a restaurant where they replace your table because it's wobbly? Serious customer-centered service was evident throughout our meal. And the date next to us? Well they entertained us the whole night. There's nothing like eavesdropping on a date conversation, especially when it's awkward, loud, and a little bit drunken.

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manya said...

I love love love Tabla. It is my favorite restaurant in Portland. You must go back and try the truffle butter pasta and the amazing enormous ravioli with a whole egg yolk in the middle.

I dream about those two dishes.