Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Eating Portland: Tabla's Tapas Hour, aka land of bargain bites!

Have you noticed, amid this craze by restaurants to serve small plates and call them "tapas", how few people actually seem to know what tapas are? It's like they've grabbed this idea of Spain without doing any research, mis-named their overpriced, unimaginative plates to conjure up this Spanish mindset while simultaneously emptying their customers wallets. Luckily for us chef Anthony Cafiero at Tabla Bistro, which is already the most ridiculous dining deal in town (if you haven't tried their 3 course for $25 dinner menu you're missing out on one the most pleasurable ways to use your disposable income) does understand the whole tapas idea. Every evening from 5:30-6:30 Tabla serves traditional tapas plates in their bar area (although thanks for allowing us a table and high chair when we showed up with C-boy in tow). Cafiero gets exactly what tapas are meant to be: small, carefully prepared bites, meant to tease and titillate, a few tastes to have while slurping down a glass or two of wine or a cocktail. The plus with Tabla's tapas hour is that, while remarkably affordable )priced from $3-$5), they deliver incredible flavor value. The tuna poached in olive oil and veal sweetbreads were fabulous bargains at $4 & $6 respectively. We went for the first time Monday night and walked out completely satisfied. Six completely different tastes, one cocktail, and two glasses of wine for $52. Here's a partial visual look. Believe me, the reality is even better!
The red kuri squash soup shot with pancetta and apple ($3) with a silky, porky pile of serrano ham with house made flatbread ($3) in the background.
The above mentioned olive oil poached albacore ($4!!) which I would have been thrilled to be served at any of the tapas bars in Barcelona and Seville I've been too. Great dish!
A stellar pile of crispy veal sweetbreads ($5)
with a plate of
salt roasted beets with feta cream ($4).

We also had Anthony's braised brussels sprouts with a grana padano stock ($4). He also sent out a sample of something soon to make an appearance, a gelled celery root cube topped with a fried hama hama oyster which is one of the richest, most decadent bites I've had in a long time. w said it was like eating butter. C-boy rolled his year-old eyes in delight when we gave him his bite. Everything we ate was top notch and again totally over-delivered for the $$ spent!


Michelle said...

Love Tabla. Love your blog. This has just moved to the top of our list!

bb said...

Thanks both of your comments I can tell you're a person of impeccable taste!

Nico said...

Told you Bruce, those sweetbreads are killer! But OMG I wish Anthony was serving that olive oil poached albacore when we last went there. Good thing is that we now have a reason to go back soon (not that we needed a reason at all!)