I’m pleased to welcome Tabla to the flog as one of our approved advertisers. (If you’re not familiar with it, here is a link to the SJO Advertiser Policy.)
Tabla was a new Indian restaurant near Universal Orlando in 2008 and it was one of the very first reviews I wrote post Sentinel. But I had not been back since then. So the owners invited me in to see what’s new.
I think I might had said “wow” when I walked in the front door. And I’m sure I said it a couple of times while trying some of the new dishes. To say they’ve made a few changes would be an understatement.
For starters, there is the interior, which was basically gutted and updated with a modern style that includes white stacked brick walls, tufted white leatherlike fabrics, clear glass globe light fixtures, and a wood-pattern ceramic floor. (Just for comparison, I’ve included a photo of the restaurant in 2008 at the bottom of the review.)
The menu, under the direction of chef Ian Piamonte, formerly the banquet chef at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, has changed, too. It is still mainly an Indian restaurant, but it also gives top billing to Chinese and Thai dishes. And everything I sampled — and I sampled a lot — was first rate.
The pappadum were served in the shape of ice cream cones instead of the usual flat tortilla shape. The crispy lentil-flour wafers were served with two chutneys: a cool but spicy mint and a sweet tamarind.
The Mixed Kabob Platter was a colorful array of various tandoori selections, including seekh kabob, chicken tikka, hara murgh and malai methi. I liked the seasoned lambiness of the seekh and the marinade of green chilies, mint and cilantro on the chicken in the hara murgh.
The Lemon Coriander Broth soup was served tableside, poured from a teapot with a dragonfly symbol on it. The broth was poured into a sylish white cup that had mushrooms, lemongrass and tofu cubes in it. It was light, but full flavored, too.
Instead of one full entree I was offered smaller tastes of about eight different dishes. The Chicken Tikka Masala was excellent with its spicy tomato base and big chunks of onions and green bell peppers. Lamb is one of my go-to meats when I’m in an Indian restaurant, so I also appreciated the Lamb Rogan Josh with its spicy gravy. The nutmeggy Korma was served with paneer, the fresh Indian cheese.
From the list of Thai entrees I had the Green Curry with chicken, a coconut milk based broth scented with kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass. Beef and Broccoli in an oyster sauce represented the Chinese section of the menu.
And here’s something I really appreciated. There was basmati rice for the Indian dishes and jasmine rice for the Thai. If you’ve ever questioned whether the type of rice makes a difference, you could see it here.
Desserts get a little fancy. There’s a Chocolate Samosa that I’m told is very popular. It is served with a Masala Chai Latte Ice Cream. And Mango Tiramisu is both delicious and pretty, served on a white plate with the name of the restaurant written in cinnamon. (Never mind that tiramisu is Italian.)
I, of course, had stellar service. But I watched how the other guests were being treated and was pleased to see all were served as if they, too, were a visiting critic.
I was happy with my experience at Tabla seven years ago. After my recent visit, I feel as though Central Florida has a brand new restaurant, and I’m happy to welcome it and recommend it to you.
Tabla Indian Chinese Thai is at 5827 Caravan Court, Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. The phone number is 407-248-9400.