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July 21st, 2010 Ethan Smith | Food Reviews & Stories
 

Restaurant Guide 2009

     
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The Mediterranean fare at Tabla is impeccable, but this anchor of Northeast 28th Avenue’s restaurant row remains the most underhyped restaurant in Portland. It’s not that Tabla’s warm-hued decorated dining room, open kitchen and reliably excellent cuisine aren’t perennially acclaimed by the foodie press. But Tabla has never quite been enveloped in the chattering cloud of buzz that hovers around Portland restaurants of the moment. Perhaps that’s for the best; hype bubbles invariably burst, but Tabla, simmering along with a devoted customer base, won’t overheat. Its modest profile means one can still get a seat at the amber-lit bar on Friday nights, and the $24 pick-your-own three-course deal—perhaps the best value in Portland fine dining—survives. Start with heat-blistered Padróns, those mild green Spanish peppers suddenly ubiquitous on Portland menus, paired with delicate lemon mousse, cherry tomatoes and a dusting of coarse sea salt. It’s hard to pass on Tabla’s signature ravioli: a single, plate-filling pocket of handmade pasta dressed with wilted chard, ricotta and poppy-seed butter concealing a perfectly poached egg. Other pasta options are equally rewarding. Rich mushroom and sherry agnolotti ($18) draw balance from the tart kick of pickled chanterelles. Tabla’s deft duck confit pairs crisp-edged fowl with velvety chive whipped potatoes and orange poached in port. See? Impeccable!
Order this: Tabla ravioli.
Best deal: $24 three-course menu; add generously poured course-by-course wine pairings for $16.
I’ll pass: On the complimentary bread—don’t want to fill up prematurely.

 
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