After being in business for 12 years, Tabla, Danny Meyer’s upscale Indian restaurant, will serve its final meal this evening. We called executive chef and partner Floyd Cardoz to get the last word on the landmark restaurant and to learn what’s in store for his future.
Tabla’s closing. Are you planning a special meal for tonight?
Well, we’re doing a special meal for the staff. We’re going to order them Shake Shack for dinner.
What are your plans post-Tabla?
I’m staying with the company and working with Danny [Meyer] on a new project. It’s still in the works but in February we should be able to give more details. But it’s going to be very different from Tabla.
How do you think upscale dining and/or Indian cuisine has changed in the years that you’ve been at Tabla?
There have been a lot of changes in terms of Indian cuisine. I think we’ve let people be different with Indian. There are definitely better Indian restaurants now. Some are still doing traditional North Indian cuisine, but others are doing more regional food. There’s a new restaurant called Junoon that’s doing all different kinds of things. It’s not just curries — that’s changed. As far as upscale in general, that’s changed a bit. People are more aware of what they’re spending their money on. And the food quality now is great overall.
What are your favorite ingredients to work with?
I love being able to work with local farmers. We’re not dictating what people should eat, but we’re using what the farmers are growing. It’s not easy, but it’s so gratifying having to create something from that.
What’s your favorite memory from Tabla?
I have more good memories than bad at Tabla. The best nights are when I hear guests say, “I hate Indian spices but I’m glad I came in to eat.” It shows that we’re not the same old Indian food. Lots of people who, say, got married or had their first date here will return and bring their family back and it becomes a special place. We have some guests who return year after year. Being able to impact positively has been so gratifying. And working with my staff. My chef de cuisine, Ty Kotz, and the staff — they’re the nicest guys. And Dan Kluger of ABC Kitchen, he worked with me. Ben Pollinger of Oceana. Matt Seeber, who’s now in Vegas. They’re all characters and have made Tabla what it was. And I’m also proud about being able to see what we’ve done for [Madison Square] Park and being able to contribute and raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. And for Share Our Strength, and working with the fishermen post-Katrina. All those things are the best memories I’ve had. And there are guests who’ve become my friends. I met one of my best friends through Tabla.
What’s your favorite dish from Tabla?
The braised oxtails with tapioca. And the whole goat dinner we did for Diwali. We had the whole animal and did eight different dishes from it.
What do you cook when you’re at home?
It all depends. One thing is what the kids want to eat. If they say steak, we eat steak. Or pasta, or sushi, then that’s what we’ll do. And the other is based on what’s available in the market. We won’t do asparagus or tomatoes in winter. You can get them, but they aren’t as good.
What will you be doing for New Year’s Eve?
I’m contemplating going to Times Square.
Well, I’ve been invited as a guest, and I think the kids want to do it.
Any New Year’s resolutions?
My older son is going to college next year and so I want to spend some time with him. And I’ll visit my farmers and do the things I couldn’t do when I was working.
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