When I was in college I took a class called Indian Music, Yoga, and Dance.  The instrument we had to master for a passing grade was a drum called a Tabla.  It was a simple instrument that offered complexity and music to those who were skilled with it.  Similarly, Chef Ian Piamonte has made music with his skill and training at Tabla, an Indian, Chinese, and Thai restaurant located adjacent to the Clarion Hotel off of Kirkman Road.

Tabla recently underwent major new renovations, with granite table tops and contemporary modern décor creating an upscale atmosphere.   The original ten page book has also been remodeled to a slim two page menu that continues to offer a variety of options for each cuisine it offers.  The innovative dishes spice up the dining scene when compared to the traditional dining options near Universal Studios.  Embracing Orlando’s diversity, Tabla pushes the boundaries of traditional cuisine without compromising authenticity.

Chef Ian Piamonte is a French trained chef who worked in various Ritz Carlton locations throughout his career.  His experience and background has driven the restaurant to be a popular caterer for weddings and even establishments such as the Four Seasons Orlando.  I expect to see Tabla continue to gain recognition as the unsung hero of the Universal Studios dining scene.

SAMSUNG CSCRefreshing house made drinks such as the Mango Lassi are a great pairing to the flavorful spices at Tabla.

SAMSUNG CSCThe Roasted Pappad is a wafer like lentil cracker that is offered with sweet and spicy sauces.

SAMSUNG CSCSoups were presented in teapots to keep them warm and offer personal sized serving.  This was a brilliant way to share soups with a large party and minimize clutter.  My favorite was the Tomato and Lentil Rasam but their Lemon Coriander broth and Hot and Sour soup were great as well.

SAMSUNG CSCGobi Manchurian, one of their most popular appetizers, is a sweet and sour fried cauliflower dish with Indo-Chinese origin.

SAMSUNG CSCThe Mixed Kabob Platter is a great appetizer for a table, with a variety of meats such as Seekh Kabob, Chicken Tikka, Hara Murgh and Malai Methi Kabobs.  Flavorful and tender, they remind me of an Indian style BBQ.

SAMSUNG CSCVegetable Samosas were going so fast I was only able to photograph one.  Samosas were my very first experience with Indian food back in grade school so I always enjoy well made samosas.

SAMSUNG CSCNaan is a staple in Indian cuisine.  It is particularly handy when wiping up sauces left on your plate.  These were topped with garlic cilantro, green chili, chili cheese, cream cheese and mint.

SAMSUNG CSCMy dinner was Tabla’s Lamb Chops and I was not disappointed.  Marinated and cooked in the traditional tandoori oven, the lamb was delicious and quickly the envy of the table.  However, the price tag of $28 is a bit steep in my opinion, especially in comparison to the other entrees available.

SAMSUNG CSCThe Tiki Masala, made with spiced tomato and coriander sauce with bell peppers and onions, was as traditional an Indian curry dish as they come.  Though the presentation is sleek, the portions are still large and filling.  I’m sure my friend had a great meal with these leftovers the next day.

SAMSUNG CSCBiryanis are also popular choices at Tabla,  with the Chicken Biryani here.  The rice was tasty with saffron and marinated chicken throughout. Biryanis were a new dish to me, but it most closely resembles a fried rice.

SAMSUNG CSCDessert was an assortment of delicious sweets in all shapes and sizes.  We couldn’t pick just one so instead we picked five!  Above is the Pineapple Kheer, a rice pudding.

SAMSUNG CSCThe Mango Tiramisu had a wonderful presentation with a dusting of the restaurant name in cocoa powder.

SAMSUNG CSCTabla’s Cassata Ice Cream was individually served in these frosted shot glasses.  This colorful dessert consists of layered ice cream and sponge cake, flavored with dry fruits and nuts.

SAMSUNG CSCThe Gulab Jamun Brulee was incredibly unique,  with the basmati rice infused with cumin.

SAMSUNG CSCLastly the Chocolate Samosa, served with Masala Chai Latte ice cream, it was the perfect way to end the night’s experience. Coming full circle with the vegetable samosas I first had at my friends house many years ago that opened my eyes to Indian cuisine, these sweet samosas showed the versatility of the dough and the creativity of the chef.

Thank you Tabla and Chef Ian for a wonderful night!

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