Saturday, December 08, 2012


200 NE 28th Avenue
Happy Hour: 5 - 6 PM, daily

A large number of my favorite places to dine in Portland are all located in the same neighborhood. All on the same street, in fact. It’s a small stretch of NE 28th, between Burnside and Glisan. I am not at all sure what it is about this area…but it seems to draw some of the best restaurants. And those restaurants draw me in. Again and again.

Tabla is one of those restaurants that has me coming back for more. Before, though, it was always something I saved for special occasions. Last time we were there, it was for my birthday. Before that, it was to celebrate a major accomplishment—what, I cannot remember. Either way, it’s a little too pricey for everyday dining (at least according to my budget). But now that they’ve amped up their happy hour menu, I can see us making a return trip much sooner than originally anticipated.

I received an email about the new menu. It was enough to push Tabla to the top of the Happy Hour To Do List. Happy Hour at Tabla runs from five to six, nightly, which allowed us to save it for the weekend and make it an official date night. And an early dinner leaves plenty of time to catch a movie.

We arrived just as they were unlocking the doors. I was concerned that the bar area would fill up and we would not get a seat. I was right to be concerned. The restaurant was only barely starting to fill by the time we left, but every seat at the bar had been taken. It seems that a number of people already know about the new happy hour discounts. You see, the entire bar menu is half off during happy hour. And with the new additions to the menu, it is easy to make a meal out of it.

Although there were a number of discounted drink options, we both decided on one of their specialty cocktails to start. I asked for a recommendation and ended up sampling something that hadn’t even made it to the menu yet. It was a new creation made to replace something listed on the menu that had been viewed as out-of-season. This sparkling concoction--dubbed the Pompelmousse--was light and refreshing and had just a hint of grapefruit.

My husband ordered the Go Go Juice. Made with fresh carrot juice, it looked to be as healthy as can be. I had a sip and would have had more if it weren’t rude to finish two drinks at once. Instead, I left it to him.

For dinner, we ordered just about everything on the menu. There are four very distinct sections listed—cheese, meat, crostini, and pasta. Both the cheese and crostini offer price points that include discounts for ordering more. (It’s a great example of unit rates---which I just happen to be teaching this week at school.) The crostini are listed at 3 for $7, four for $9, or all five for $11. We ordered all five. It sounds as if the toppings change now and then, but vegetarian options are available no matter what. Of the five we sampled, I was able to try three. I enjoyed the one topped with eggplant, but favored both the ricotta and cannellini bean varieties.

There are three fancy cheeses listed on the bar menu as well—and like with the crostini, we ordered all of them. The listings change frequently, but like with most offerings at Tabla, they are all bound to be delicious. My only concern is the risk of falling in love with one specific item and then not being able to find it again. The cheese was served with grilled bread and the server was happy to bring more when she noticed that the initial ratio of bread to cheese wasn’t working for us.

To accompany the cheese, my husband also ordered one of the meat offerings. It was thinly sliced and apparently very delectable. And it seemed to go well with the cheese.

To finish our meal, we both ordered a pasta dish. They are small but bold in flavor. I ordered one of my two favorites that have always remained on the menu (they are that good) and my husband ordered one that I had yet to try.

My pasta dish was a thin pasta—Tagliatelli—that is obviously made in house and is now available (according to that email I received) to take home by the pound. It was a simple dish dressed only with butter and Parmesan. It might not sound like much, but this is one of the dishes that brings me back again and again. It is that good.

I couldn’t not take a bite (or two) of my husband’s pasta selection. It had the most pleasurable hit of Gorgonzola—it was just the right amount.

We were too full in the end to order any dessert, but I would have been more prone to order the one last pasta dish listed in lieu of a sweet treat (not that their desserts aren't fantastic). The final pasta selection is one of my favorites and one that is seen being delivered to tables most often, it seems. It is the Tabla Ravioli and is served with a farm fresh poached egg and poppyseed butter. It is truly delicious. After having passed it up this time, I will most definitely order it upon our next visit—a visit that will occur in the near future now that the happy hour discounts make it more of a possibility.

Food: Exceeds
Drinks: Meets
Service: Exceeds
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets


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