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TABLA For first night?


tracyinfrance
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Okay, getting very excited about our upcoming trip to NYC We have friday night reservations at Union Sq Cafe & Saturday at River cafe for 40th birthday. For our first night, Thursday, we currently have a table at Eleven Maddison Ave, but have been reading about its more spicy neighbour Tabla. As we live in the Languedoc in France where indian style cooking(I know Tabla is not a full out curry house!!), and any spice except Rosemary, Lavendar and Thyme are hard to come by, we are wondering if Tabla might be a better choice as something so very different to what we enjoy in France. I appreciate they are two very different places to ask which we should choice but if anyone has any point of view I would appreciate some imput!! Thanks very much!!

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Tabla is good, but it is not an Indian restaurant. It is a restaurant with Indian influences. EMP is considered by many as one of the very finest restaurants in NYC right now. Just out of curiosity, you seem to be concentrating on Danny Meyer restaurants - any particular reason? I'm not arguing against them, just curious.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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I think Tabla is an excellent choice for a French visitor, exactly because you probably won't find anything like it in the Languedoc. I'm also not convinced that Union Square Cafe and River Cafe are the best choices for someone trying to experience New American cuisine. Union Square Cafe has great service and a great feel, and River Cafe has a great view, but I think there are better New American restaurants, particularly Gramercy Tavern. And the other thing I'd perhaps include on your list is something in the modern Japanese vein, such as Nobu or Morimoto.

P.S. Point of nitpicking: rosemary, lavender and thyme are herbs, not spices.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Union Square is nicely prepared comfort food. but it's not exactly interesting.

can't speak for River Cafe but I imagine it's in the same vein.

11 Madison Park is a good idea and so is Tabla...but why not do them on different nights?

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And/or, have lunch at Tabla...they offer a $25 (?) deal, and you'd still get to sample some of those phenomenal Indian-inspired dishes! Was there again this past week, and each time I enjoy something new.

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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I think Tabla is an excellent choice for a French visitor, exactly because you probably won't find anything like it in the Languedoc. I'm also not convinced that Union Square Cafe and River Cafe are the best choices for someone trying to experience New American cuisine. Union Square Cafe has great service and a great feel, and River Cafe has a great view, but I think there are better New American restaurants, particularly Gramercy Tavern. And the other thing I'd perhaps include on your list is something in the modern Japanese vein, such as Nobu or Morimoto.

P.S. Point of nitpicking: rosemary, lavender and thyme are herbs, not spices.

I concur.

My opinion is that given the excellence of EMP now, and the recent revitalization of Gramercy Tavern, Tabla and Union Square Cafe are probably the weakest links of the Danny Meyer chain (pun intended). They're not bad restaurants, per se, just not as great as some of his other places.

I was also going to suggest that you include some East Asian cuisine in your itinerary.

"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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Agree about Gramercy Tavern over Union Square Cafe. USC had its day, and now lives on both its reputation and its excellent service, but its food is no longer exciting. GT is exciting right now with Michael Anthony in the kitchen. I also agree about Tabla AND EMP on different nights. You won't go wrong with that!

Edited by DutchMuse (log)
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I haven't been as impressed with Eleven Madison Park as the rest of you, but I do think it's a much-improved, very good restaurant now. The thing is, though, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to someone coming from France for just a very few meals in New York City. Restaurants that serve food that's stylistically similar to Eleven Madison Park's cuisine are pretty easy to find in France. Gramercy Tavern, Tabla and Nobu, less so.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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That's what I LOVE about this site, conflicting views!! Thanks for all the advise. Interesting point made by 'Docsconz' about me concentrating on Daniel Meyer restaurants, either it is I subconciously like his style or he has the most hype! We lived in Northern California for 10 years before transplanting to France (originally both from UK) so we have pretty eclectic tastes (me, more than my hubby! - he is not into the small plate idea of food sampling - much to my disappointment, and is not keen on Japanese food!) Our problem is we are meeting friends, one who has very simple tastes, hence the safe bets of Union Square & River Cafe (although that is mainly about the view I know!). Will definitely try to change the Union square reservation over to Gramercy Tavern after the feed back! Wonder if lunch at Tabla followed by dinner at GT might be too much???!! Sorry not to put in the quotes from previous egullets in connection with my responses but am fairly new to this great site and haven't sussed out how to do that yet!!!

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I haven't been as impressed with Eleven Madison Park as the rest of you, but I do think it's a much-improved, very good restaurant now. The thing is, though, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to someone coming from France for just a very few meals in New York City. Restaurants that serve food that's stylistically similar to Eleven Madison Park's cuisine are pretty easy to find in France. Gramercy Tavern, Tabla and Nobu, less so.

Thanks for making that point. I totally agree, and not because my meal at 11 Madison Park since Chef Humm took over was disappointing in both service and from a standpoint of interesting food, but simply because of my experience in dining in France and being able to compare.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Oh well - looks like the decision has been made for me - GT full until 11.15 on the Friday night!

I would recommend you email or phone and speak with one of the managers. Explain you're coming from France and are seeking some special dinners that reflect classic American food, and GT was resoundly recommended on eG. They may open up a table for you.

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Oh well - looks like the decision has been made for me - GT full until 11.15 on the Friday night!

I would recommend you email or phone and speak with one of the managers. Explain you're coming from France and are seeking some special dinners that reflect classic American food, and GT was resoundly recommended on eG. They may open up a table for you.

Okay so now this has become like a Willy Wonka golden ticket! I have tried calling the reservations number and have been told I can be put on the wait list and they get people from all over the world to go and eat there, so my case is nothing special!! (this was with just the reservation dept), does anyone have a name of a manger I should try to speak with - or do I just need to be more aggressive with trying to get past the reservation dept???

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What EMP lacks in novelty vs. living in France, despite it's excellence, I'd argue it might make up in it's room and setting overlooking Madison Park - it just gets a lot of nice natural light and adds to the experience. But I guess you wouldn't get that at dinner...

What about Gotham Bar & Grill vs. GT and USC?

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Have not been to Tabla for a few years now, but remember being much more impressed by Bread Bar (the downstairs)...more casual and more interesting food.

Things may have changed over the last few years (since kids I get out a lot less!), but I always preferred Bread Bar to the regualr restaruant upstairs.

B

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Have not been to Tabla for a few years now, but remember being much more impressed by Bread Bar (the downstairs)...more casual and more interesting food.

Things may have changed over the last few years (since kids I get out a lot less!), but I always preferred Bread Bar to the regualr restaruant upstairs.

B

I was going to mention the Bread Bar, but was beaten to it. Personally, while I like Tabla a lot, I think you'll find the food on the Bread Bar side to be even more of a departure from what you'd find in France, as the flavors are bolder and more rustic, whereas they're more refined and restrained at the Tabla side. Also, since it's more casual (and a bit cheaper), it'll enable greater excess in your other meals:)

While we're on the subject of good Danny Meyer restaurants, I'm really surprised no one has brought up The Modern. It has an obviously great view (of great modern artists' work) and the food has seemed to me to be far superior to that at Union Square Cafe and River Cafe.

Now, if you want an experience you can't get in the Languedoc, you might want to put WD-50 on your list...that's WAY more different than anything you've mentioned.

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well...there are Indian restaurants in Paris. I don't know anything about the quality.

as for WD-50...there's plenty of molecular gastronomy going on in France. far more than in the U.S., let alone NY.

heck, L'Astrance is in Paris.

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well...there are Indian restaurants in Paris.  I don't know anything about the quality.

as for WD-50...there's plenty of molecular gastronomy going on in France.  far more than in the U.S., let alone NY.

heck, L'Astrance is in Paris.

There are actually fairly good Indian places in Paris, but Bread Bar isn't traditional Indian, and the atmosphere there is more of a departure from what's found in Paris than that upstairs.

As for WD-50, I suggested it not because she wouldn't be able to find molecular gastronomy in Paris, but because it offers a uniquely American take on the genre. Saying that WD-50 should be skipped because they have molecular gastronomy in Paris is like saying she should avoid Grammercy Tavern because they have rustic cooking in Paris (or suggesting that she not bother with American art because they have painting in Paris). Wylie's food, while generally in the "molecular" category (for lack of a better term), is different from what other international chefs are doing in that category. Just as El Bulli's food was envisioned as a molecular take on Spanish food, Wylie riffs on many items that are distinctly American, such as pastrami, creamsicles, butterscotch pudding, corned beef on rye, pepperoni pizza, and American-style mayo (fried in cubes).

I also second the recommendation of Blue Hill mentioned above.

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ah...ok....I see your point.  in that sense, Alinea is more cosmopolitan while WD-50 shows more of a sense of terroir.

It is hilarious that we've now applied "terroir" to WD-50, as Bryan pointed out, but that is my impression and experience. Wylie seems to specifically incorporate new takes on classic American (and often specifically New York) food, at least in a tongue-in-cheek way, into his concept. Alinea (which, by the way I was just lucky enough to visit a couple of weeks ago....WOW!!!!!!!) seems not to be as concerned with that factor and takes a more general perspective...maybe because Grant's background includes so much varied and international training.

Edited by LPShanet (log)
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