If you go way back in the land of Smitten Kitchen, you might know that one of my favorite restaurants of all time was called Tabla, specifically the more casual, heavier on the small plates, downstairs space called the Bread Bar. In my early years in New York, I went there as often as I could scrape the change together. I’m pretty sure we ate there for my 25th birthday. Alex met my parents there for the first time. We even put the (now discontinued) wine glasses on our wedding registry. I obsessed over every dish and can reel off the names of several just from memory — saag paneer pizza, potato apple chaat, black pepper shrimp, boondi raita, aloo kulcha, and the mango kulfi pops. The cocktails were also exceptional; Alex loved the Masala Mary, and I loved the Tamarind Margarita and the Kachumber Cooler; we drank them standing up, because it was always crowded, a snacked on my desert island favorite, the bar popcorn with ghee and chat masala
, although we’d also never say no to the chickpea-battered onion rings with a spicy masala ketchup.
After Tabla closed in 2009, we went out to eat everywhere the chef, Floyd Cardoz, cooked next — North End Grill, Paowalla, later called Bombay Bread Bar, where he rekindled the menu with many Tabla favorites, much to our delight. It closed a little under a year ago, and I was impatiently waiting to hear what he’d be up to next when a friend texted early one morning in March that he had died of complications relating to Covid-19. He was only 59.
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