Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Day In The Life Of Chef Floyd Cardoz

Talk about misleading headlines. It was more like A MOMENT in the life of Chef Floyd Cardoz. No…really not even that. It was A MOMENT IN TIME that I happened to be witness to a few days ago. AND it told me as much about the chef/owner and his restaurant as many meals there would have.

I was at Tabla, which features fine FUSION Indian cuisine. (I love that type of food,
SOME people don’t.) I had checked in with the reservation desk and I was waiting for my luncheon companion near the bottom of the stairs that lead up to the dining room. I was watching the desk with a keen eye. There were always two, and sometimes three, people there in this fine co-owned by Danny Meyer customer-is-always-right establishment.

People would come in, be greeted, and asked if they wanted to wait for their party or be seated immediately. A lovely young lady took them up the stairs, never straying more than 3 feet in front of them at any time. (THAT kind of service doesn’t just happen. It has to be taught… from the top down.)

ANYWAY…All of a sudden the Chef appears. He walks around the first floor, which holds a bar and the Bread Bar. The Bread Bar is for casual dining (as opposed to “fine dining”, as Lisa would say.) Perhaps he is looking for something or someone in particular, I’m not sure. Then he goes almost outside, but not quite, peering out the door.

He climbs the stairs, looking right at me…but through me. I didn’t mind. He was BUSY! I don’t want a lollygagging chef cooking my lunch. Some seconds later (not immediately, he must have gotten all the way up the stairs and come back down), he reappears and DISappears behind the stairway. I twist and turn to see that he’s closed a door that apparently shouldn’t have been kept open. Maybe it led to a hallway or a utility room, I don’t know. But the chef saw it from the stairs, came all the way back down…closed the door and went back up, never to return.

Why did this strike me? Number one, I was happy to see a famed chef IN his restaurant AND at lunchtime. And number two, because, if the chef/owner shows that same attention to detail in the kitchen and in the service of the restaurant and with his purveyors, then that’s a pretty good sign that the restaurant, as a whole, is well-run and that the chef is on the ball.

My friend V arrived, we were shown upstairs. Truthfully, V and I had a lot to catch up on, and, if you can believe it, the food did NOT take center stage, not because it wasn’t good enough, but because I didn’t dissect every mouthful. But this was the fabulous lunch we had:

We started with salads. V’s was an organic green salad with crisped rice and a lime chutney-sherry dressing. She was happy.

Mine had strawberries, radishes and pea pods. It was wonderfully fresh and dressed perfectly.

V has salmon, which was cooked to perfection – medium rare.

My Baby Artichokes & Asparagus were delicious. The vegetables, I think, had been roasted first and then put into a rich sauce, which the menu said was a Coconut-Taro Puree. It wasn’t over coconut-ty, just creamy and good. There was a tangle of surprisingly sweet wild watercress atop the entire dish.

V’s dessert of Chocolate and Coconut Crepes were okay, but I realize now I didn’t taste the tamarind (my favorite) sauce. Darn!

My Vanilla Kulfi was cooling and beautifully presented. I got no chile flavor from the Orange-Chile Sorbet, but I have no regrets.

Last thing to be imbibed was Khava, a spiced green tea served with honey. Very nice, but I prefer chai. Next time...

2 lapses in service only: Our waiter – baby-faced, but very professional – took much too long to get to us initially. And our water did too…throughout the meal. But I can live with that. And I have a feeling that that probably doesn’t happen too often.

Oh, and the cosmos were pretty darn good. Good job, Chef, I’m glad you were in the house.


Catherine Wilkinson said...

You should be PAID for reviews like this! Generous, fair, accurate, and entertaining. Really.
Go do it.

Sue said...

Where can I send YOUR check?

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Lovely photos. Those crepes looked like they were to die for.

I tried to go on the website, but it was partially down (screens mostly blank). I think I may have passed by this place once and it's driving me crazy.

Sue said...

Hey Rach,
The link seems to be working. It's It is one of those fancy sites that might take a minute to load.

You have to try Tabla. It's great.

Emiline said...

Wow. All of the food and drinks sound great!
Wait a second - what is kulfi? Maybe I should make it. I need to do some research.
A sweet tamarind sauce sounds good. Are you able to purchase it where you live? We don't have it here.

How was the rice crisp? Did they fry it? Too many questions. You don't have to answer these.