Tabla, the independently-owned Indian restaurant with locations in Orlando and Winter Park, has opened a third location in Lake Nona with a modern decor and a show kitchen design that allows you to see the exceptionally good food being prepared.
The open kitchen is a change from the original Tabla, which opened near Universal Orlando in 2008 and in Winter Park in the Shops on Park arcade last year.
But all three offer the same menu of Indian specialties as well as some Thai and Chinese dishes.
At lunch, Tabla Lake Nona offers a very nice pre fixe menu – a Tabla d’hote, if you will – of three courses for $15.99. I started with a delicious mint soup that had a full-flavored vegetable stock base and bright minty note from the chopped herbs on top.
For my main course I chose the chicken tikka masala, which had big chunks of breast meat and onions in a creamy orange colored curry. I ordered it medium spicy and found it a bit too tame; those who like a bit of heat may want to go higher.
It was served on a platter with a bowl of rice, some pappadum and pickles, plus a dish of dessert, a sweet rice pudding. It also came with a basket of naan straight out of the tandoor oven just a few feet away.
For dinner, I ordered the bhalla papadi chaat for an appetizer. It had crispy strips similar to tortillas with chickpeas and tomatoes in a yogurt sauce. Sort of like an Indian version of nachos.
For one of the main courses, I selected Tabla’s homestyle curry, which comes with a choice of either lamb or goat. Since the menu was kind enough to mention that the lamb was boneless but the goat was not, I went with the lamb. It was in a rich and complex gravy with myriad spice layers. Delicious on the rice.
For a vegetarian entree I chose the dal bukhara, with urad dal, tomatoes, ginger and garlic. A touch of cream and butter offered a smooth texture between the lentils. It was thick enough to eat without rice, but I put everything of rice when I have the chance.
This time I chose the gulab jamun for dessert and enjoyed the sweet dough balls.
I also liked sipping the mango lassi, made in house. Quite refreshing.
The original Tabla – it called itself Tabla Bar & Grill then – was one of the first post-Sentinel reviews I wrote. It’s been fun to watch this deserving restaurant grow and evolve.