The newest hip restaurant frequented by the Yuppies, Tabula Rasa at Square Mall in Saket Shopping Center , behind Marriott was the choice of this dinner on March 28..
When I met young partner Sohrab Sitaram for the food tasting one afternoon, I was pleasantly surprised. The restaurant was almost full and the dishes served were lick smacking delicious. ‘We serve mainly tapas here. I had been to Spain for vacation and was impressed by tapas style of food serving and wanted to introduce it in India ,' Sohrab told me.
The restaurant qualifies as a great Tapas Bar. The food quality was generally from Good (salad) to Terrific. Majority would rate the food dished out by chef Kushal Pal (KP) as Terrific.
The ambience of the place is conducive for mingling and relaxing. Music is not Beethoven or Beetles but full of young and heavy duty sounds. Some members found it too loud. But for a tapas bar it was acceptable, though a few members felt out of place.
Sohrab and his partner Rohan Gupta have hit the right notes from what one saw this evening. The Terrace with the beautiful bar setting was very inviting and full of clients very early in the evening; the 30-odd members were comfortably served the Grapus Chardonnay and Merlot with Sauvignon Semillon from Cumulus , Australia .
Both the whites were crisp, fresh and energizing as the summer seemed to be setting in while were standing around. Grapus Merlot was lean and acidic and barely passed muster as quaffable wine.
The music inside was understandably loud and perhaps in tune with the young customers. But the dB level clearly overpowered even my usual 3-digit dB level at the wine presentation. My usual presentation of wines disappeared into thin air.
Service left much to be desired though. Comments a regular member Arun Batra, ‘From a wine point of view, apart from the interaction we were able to have with you on the terrace, the music level was far too high inside to enable you to make any periodic hearable comments as is the custom to guide us on the wines being drunk –neither were the servers of any help nor was there a wine list on the table for reference.'
Says Dr. Subir Chaklader, ‘after attending hundreds of dinners at James Beard Foundation, Julia Childs Foundation in New York including Wine Institute, and French Culinary Institute of New York I have some understanding as to how a Wine Dinner should be conducted…a restaurant which knows better how to handle a group as large as ours, knows the details when, and how things have to be managed, dispensed, and served.'
Added another anguished member Dipankar,' the food was insufficient. They could not figure out a table of 8 cannot share 6 small pieces of bread, one plate of salad and one plate of whatever
servings came our way. Serving pieces of dessert without individual plate was another
experience. They are just not equipped to serve… they need serious training.' His wife Panchali who had ben so impressed when she entered the terrace bar that she told him they should come back again soon but ‘Never again' when she left the place.
In the defence of the restaurant I must comment that in a Tapas bar one picks up a piece, call tapa onto your one's individual plate. Most Spanish bars have small, elegant Tapas single serving plates. But the insufficient food and lack of co-ordination between the serving staff came in the way of enjoying.
Ravi Sachdev, a founder member was more balanced in summing up the experience of the whole evening.'It is a terrific place with lovely ambience and fabulous food. I loved the wines too. Service lacked professionalism but perhaps they were short of waiters or too many people landed unexpectedly on a Wednesday. I would not want to come her for a quite dinner but definitely (come back for) an evening of fun with friends.'
The restaurant has become too popular and successful too soon for which Sohrab and Rohan need to be complimented. But service may not always be a criterion for choosing a restaurant or a bar for an outing but poor service will eventually blemish the image of any restaurant.
Tabula Rasa is a great place to enjoy Tapas and let your spirits run high in a very congenial atmosphere, but I would avoid it for casual fine dining and for the time being, even dining. When the restaurant improves its service to acceptable level, it may become great dining place too.
Finger food with aperitif wines on the terrace (Grapus Chardonnay and Cumulus-Australia)
Tapas from the plate:
Chicken Tortia , Mini Laksa Vegetarian
- Steamed Bao – Veg
- Barbajuan Goat Cheese
- Stir Fried Vegetable Lettuce Wrap
- Tropical Mango Sushi
- Cumin Fried Chicken
- Seekh Kebab Khas
- Fried River Sole Starters
- Clams and Chorizo with Saffron Sushi Rice
- Chicken Shish Touk with Pita
Assorted Dessert Plate, Tea/Coffee