When Lizzie, another one of my lovely acquaintances, from Vika and Rafe's Bahamian wedding in the was in town a few weeks ago, we treated ourselves to dinner at Bread Bar at Tabla . Bread Bar may be the less expensive part of Tabla, but it still a treat for me. Tabla is pleasantly decorated, nothing overly unique, with music that seems out of place since it is not a lounge. Though we were not sure who our waiter was at the end of the night, we had attentive and unobtrusive service all night. None of these details really matter though as we were there for the food, which exceeded expecations. Here's my rundown of the dishes our group of six shared...
Garlic and Sourdough Naan with the Chutney Sampler
I didn't try the sourdough naan, but the garlic was delicious. I always love naan's texture and Bread Bar's was no exception. It reminded me of Little Caesar's Crazy Bread in a good way. The favorite chutney was mint-cilantro chutney.
Fresh Chickpea & Kala Chana Chaat (warm street salad with red onion, chili & lime) $9
This dish was spicy with a nice crunch. I picked it out and it was my favorite small plate. It was like nothing I had tasted previously.
Creamed Spinach Samosa (local spring garlic, chickpeas, radishes & chipotle chutney) $15
You receive one samosa to split at this price. I found it heavy, but everyone loved it. The plate had a beautiful presentation with a radish salad that tasted strongly of ginger.
Sunny Side Spiced Up Egg (local baby arugula, applewood smoked bacon & gingered chicken livers) $13, includes a $2 donation to City Harvest
It looked great with the sunny side up egg. I couldn't taste the ginger on the chicken and didn't have bacon in my bite but the flavors melded nicely.
Saag “Paneer” Pizza (spiced creamed spinach with crumbled Coach Farm goat cheese on corn roti) $16
I scoffed at this dish wondering what is Saag Paneer without the Paneer? But it was surprisingly good. The spinach was very fresh, almost dry, and the warm goat cheese and the crisp roti were a great contrast in textures.
Kerala Black Pepper Chicken (seared chicken stewed with curry leaves, onions & black pepper) $19
This was my favorite entree and one I never would have ordered on my own. The chicken was tender and moist; the sweet accompanying stew was excellent over the fluffy basmati rice. It wasn't too peppery, in fact I didn't really notice pepper.
Berkshire Country Pork Pan Roast (marinated with apple cider, cinnamon & mustard seeds) $18
This was my least favorite entree. The pork pan roast was a little dry and flavorless yet fatty. The flavor was vaguely sweet, which was appropriate given the ingredients.
Tandoori Lamb (marinated in yogurt, cardamom & chilies) 20.
The lamb was succulent and tender with a great flavor. I almost didn't need a knife to cut it. This entree had the smallest portion.
As an aside, Bread Bar's dessert menu wins a prize for having the only dessert to have ever repulsed me. Does anything about this sound tempting? Rhubarb Clafoutis (Roasted rhubarb, toasted almonds, basil-lemon curd ice cream). My one other comment on desserts in general was that they must use a melon baller to scoop the ice cream. The one scoop was too tiny for two people to taste much less six.
Sticky Date Pudding (Chocolate ice cream, toffee sauce, crumbled caramel brittle) $8
This dessert surprised me. It had a rich chocolate flavor without being too sweet. The brittle was perfect.
Citrus Polenta Fritter (Braised pineapple, apple lambic ice cream) $8
This was the dessert the women unanimously wanted. It was good but disappointing. The presentation and taste was reminiscent of a lemon bar with less punch.
Bread Bar Doughnut Holes (Made to order with orange blossom essence and a trio of sauces) $10
The doughnuts are light with a tasty sugar and cinnamon topping that overpowered the caramel and vanilla sauces. It did work with the chocolate sauce though. The caramel sauce was great on its own but the vanilla mysteriously tasted boozy.
The best dessert isn't listed on the online menu. If I remember correctly it was lemon pudding cake with coconut sorbet and lemon confit $8. The presentation was amazing and it made me swoon with its smooth sweetness and rich flavors.
I definitely want to return to the Bread Bar. If only to try the Pulled Lamb & Mustard-Mashed Potato “Naanini” (a street sandwich drizzled with fresh lime juice & chilies) and to have more Chaat.
Location: 11 Madison Avenue at 25th Street
Hours: Mon-Fri 12:00p-2:00p, 5:30-10:00 pm (not Friday pm), Fri-Sat 5:30p-11:00p, Sun 5:00p-9:00p
Note: Bread Bar Reservations are for inside seating only.