Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tabla Mediterranean Bistro

Happy Saturday! I've got soooo many fabulous restaurants I've been wanting to write-up; so much so, that I've been feeling overwhelmed about how to go about doing this! Which restaurant? What do I include? Should I go in order of my visits? How long is each write-up going to take? What kind of pictures should I include?

You know what? Who cares? I'm writing this blog because I love food, and I want to share what I think makes food good. So, I'm not going to stress about how or when or where, etc... and just do it!

I want to start off with one of my favorite local restaurants, and I think the first restaurant that I remember really thinking -- "Wow, this is what a great dining experience should be like, and I could really get into this." In fact, I kind of feel like I fell in love with food and the whole concept of being a foodie at Tabla Mediterranean Bistro in Southeast Portland.

Someone gave my husband and I a gift certificate to Tabla as an engagement present several years ago, so we checked it out. Since then, we've had nothing but wonderful meals and wonderful experiences there.

From the restaurant web site: "Tabla Mediterranean Bistro focuses on adding a modern twist to authentic Mediterranean specialties from regions such as Spain, France, Northern Africa and Italy."

The menu is seasonally-focused, meaning the ever-revolving efforts from the kitchen bring to the table local food that's fresh, and it's so much more tasty and beautiful that way. Case in point, earlier this week I had the most beautiful heirloom carrot salad with winter greens, golden raisins, citrus, hazelnuts and fresh asiago. Not only was it delicious, but it was so pretty, too!

One of the things I love most about Tabla is how affordable such a wonderful meal can be. For just $24 dollars, you can choose one item from each section of appetizers, pastas, and entrées. My dinner consisted of that lovely carrot salad, the absolutely-without-a-doubt-not-to-be-missed Tabla ravioli, and the duck confit, (a dinner which was so tender and tasty the meat just slid right off the bone).

I can't stress enough how amazing the Tabla ravioli is... a giant ravioli, (or 2 and make it your entrée), filled with chard, ricotta, egg, and poppy seed butter. My mouth is watering thinking of it, and there are few things more elegant on a plate than this ravioli as the egg inside dribbles yolky goodness all over. Yumm!

The chef at Tabla, Anthony Cafiero, also writes a blog about his travels, inspiration, and cooking. It's fun to read and see how his experiences shape the menu. In the back of the restaurant, there's also an open kitchen bar where you can watch Anthony cook and talk with him about the food.

When you head into Tabla, don't miss the amazing wine selection, either. General manager and sommelier Michael Garofola puts together an excellent list that changes weekly, focusing on French, Italian, and Spanish wines, as well as a Northwest selection.

I can't say enough good things about Tabla, from the ambiance and the friendly staff, to the amazing food and wines, (all at a reasonable price), this restaurant is not to be missed.


Tabla is located at 200 NE 28th Ave. in Portland, Oregon.
Open 7 nights a week for dinner beginning at 5:30pm.
Reservations recommended.

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