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Restaurant Files: Tablao in Norwalk, CT – Wine or Cocktail, You Decide

November 12, 2016 2 comments

Translated from Spanish, the word “Tabla” has a few different meanings, but the one of interest for us here is a “board” or a “plank”. If you stop by the recently opened Tablao restaurant in SoNo district or Norwalk, Connecticut, the wooden planks on the walls will definitely attract your attention – and if you are a oenophile, you can’t help but to keep looking for all the familiar and coveted names (uncontrollable drooling will be excused, but please behave):

For sure I was very happy to observe all those wooden boards when I visited the restaurant for the bloggers dinner a few month ago. This time around, I arrived even a bit early, so I had an opportunity to snap a few pictures of decor and ambiance:

Tablao SoNo

Tablao SoNo

Tablao SoNoWhile I love wine, I would never skip the bar – after all, nice cocktail is a nice cocktail, a great way to start the evening. The bar at Tablao didn’t disappoint. To be entirely honest, it even exceeded my expectations, as soon as I saw a bottle of Del Maguey Mezcal. Del Maguey makes absolutely spectacular Mezcal, which is rare and almost impossible to find. If the restaurant carries it, it gives me a good pointer for what to expect.

Tablao offers a nice selection of cocktails and wines by the glass:

Cocktails and Wines by the glass menu Tablao SoNoWe had a few of the cocktails, and the wines were prepared for our dinner in advance. I really liked the cocktail called Charred! (charred Serrano pepper, Chinaco Blanco – another sign of high-class – rare and beautiful tequila, Vida Mezcal, lime, agave, optional egg white) – nice balance, good spicy bite. From the wines, my favorites were 2011 Guimaro Mencia Ribera Sacra which was earthy and showing nice ripe fruit, and 2014 Desierto25 Cabernet Franc Patagonia, Argentina, which was unexpected (Cab Franc from Argentina? wow) and stunning – smooth, balanced, with an excellent fruit profile:

 

While we were mingling, the food started to appear:


Cheese Croquettes were very tasty, with nice amount of spice. Potato Croquettes were my favorite, again, well cooked and very tasty, with good amount of seasoning, and then Grilled Chorizo – who can argue with Chorizo?

The first dish to arrive at the table Charcuteria, which is offered with a very nice selection of meats and cheeses at Tablao:

Our first course consisted of three different Tapas: Brussels Sprouts Salad (Fontina risotto cake, black truffle shavings, truffle olive oil, lemon, parmesan cheese) – memorable presentation, the salad itself was tasty, but the risotto cake was a touch too dense to my taste. Next up was Salmon Tartare (Jalapeños, red onion, ginger, lemon juice served with house-made potato crisps) – nicely made, good flavor and then Calamari a la Plancha (Vinaigrette of vegetables and salad) with a good char on the octopus.

Brussels Sprouts Salad Tablao SoNo

Salmon Tartar Tablao SoNo

Calamari a la Pancha Tablao SoNo

The second course brought in Hanger Steak (Green chimichurri), Asparagus (Parmesan, red pepper vinaigrette, balsamic reduction) and Chorizo Español (figs, beans), all nicely prepared:

And then, of course, showing all the Spanish cooking heritage, the Classic Paella (Chorizo, Chicken, Port, Clams, Mussels, Shrimp). Let me explain how good this paella is: you know how every once in a while you are setting next to the dish, you are full – I mean, completely full – and you still are going “let me just get another bite, just one more, please, I promise” – yes, that was the Paella experience at Tablao.

To finish our night in style, we got the trio of the deserts – Tres-Leches (Dense 3 milk cake), Strawberry Panna Cotta (Served with coconut ice cream) and Housemade Chocolate Tart (Chocolate & Goat Cheese) – all very tasty.

Desert trio Tablao SoNoThat’s all I have for you, my friends. If you are looking for a tasty (and different!) drink, a glass of good wine and a tasty bite of food, Tablao in SoNo can provide them all – with a bonus of a perfect ambiance. Cheers!

Tablao Wine Bar and Restaurant
86 Washington St
Norwalk, CT 06854
Ph: (203) 939-9602
tablaosono.com

Tablao Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Of Course You Know Miami Beaches, Let’s Talk About Miami Restaurants

February 16, 2011 1 comment

One of the virtues of the business travel is opportunity to try new foods. We’ve got to eat every day, don’t we – but we can go into many ways about it. One option is to stay only within familiar territory, eat at few places you already know and don’t take any risks. Another option is to explore and experience. Depending on the place I’m traveling to, I might go different routes myself – of course, when you are in Miami Beach, the “explore and experience” model sounds (and looks) very appealing.

I don’t think Miami’s food scene requires any introductions. As Miami itself if a tight blend of many different cultures, so are the restaurants in Miami. I’m not trying turn into a restaurant critic by all means, so this here is short (mostly in pictures) report on a few places I had an opportunity to visit recently – except one place, Sra. Martinez, which stood out of the crowd immensely, so it will be a subject of separate blog post.

Without further ado, here we go.

Maya Tapas and Grille restaurant, located on Lincoln Road (Lincoln Road is one of the main tourist attractions in South Miami Beach).  First, we had a very good bottle of Malbec.  As restaurants compete for attention on Lincoln Road, we took the advantage of “all wines half price”, so this Luigi Bosca Gala 1 (actually, Malbec blend) at $35 was definitely a bargain. Still a young wine, it had initial layer of sweetness, which freed the way to spiciness and balance as wine had time to breathe.

In the tapas restaurants, my favorite dish is of course … tapas – the best way to experience wide variety of flavors.

We ordered a number of tapas, both cold and hot, and all the food tasted very good (grouper seviche, charcuterie and chorizo are highly recommended). Below is a picture of grouper seviche:

 

Aura restaurant, also on Lincoln Road, is more of an Italian flare with simple menu. We mostly went there for cocktails and pizza, and both were good. Here is Long Island Iced Tea and Mojito:

 

Thin crust pizza (European style) with goat cheese and vegetables was very tasty (no picture though).

PAUL. You got to eat breakfast too, right? Paul is a French bakery, part of an international chain. It is fully French, starting from the menu and appetizing baguettes all over the place, to the “french style” service. Service is an interesting part of the place – it is purposefully disrespectful to the customers, kind of “I’m not here to serve you”. In my honest opinion, though, they got this “French” concept upside down – 9 times out of 10, I had an outstanding service in France, despite any language barriers. I also think it costs PAUL in terms of lost clientele, and it shows up in the reviews on Yelp. But the food is good. Baguette with butter and jam is pure pleasure, so is Eggs Benedict ( I had both smoked salmon and Canadian bacon versions) – probably the best Eggs Benedict ever, definitely the best sauce. And pressed Focaccia sandwiches were not too shabby as well.

 

Last place to discuss in this post is Marker 88, located in a middle of Florida Keys (on island called Islamorada). This place was recommended – and it disappointed, unfortunately. The food was interesting in concept – but completely lacked soul in execution, or had simply technical mistakes, like lobster and mango guacamole having no mango – and of course guacamole completely overpowered the lobster. But the dish does look good on picture, doesn’t it:

 

And here is crab cake sandwich:

 

Again, looks good – but crab cake was missing any flavor… Well, may be we were out of luck with substitute chef?

To sum it up – if you are just looking for a byte to eat, I would definitely recommend all of the places we talked about here (even Marker 88 deserves second chance). However, if you are looking also for experience, please wait for the next blog post…

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