In Perth, the name Tabla is synonymous with quality and authenticity.
The South Street restaurant has only grown in popularity since being opened in 2009.
Run by husband and wife team Swarna and Praveen Kumar, the first thing you see when you walk through the door is a wall covered in framed accolades.
The smiling young waiting team met and seated us immediately, right next to the kitchen so we could have a sniff of what was in store.
As is customary with any trip to an Indian eatery, two pints of Kingfisher beer (£4.75) arrived shortly after we sat down.
After that, we did our best to veer away from the usual suspects.
The food at Tabla
I think we can all be guilty, particularly in Indian restaurants, of sticking with our tried and tested favourites.
The choice to look elsewhere on the menu certainly paid off.
My partner went for the Dakshin fried fish (£5.95).
The dish was new to him, but the description on the menu – marinated Scottish fresh catch of the day, fried with Indian spices till crisp – was more than enough to pull him away from his staple order.
The fish was wonderfully tender and the crisp, glowing with spicy warmth.
There’s no doubt the pakora would have impressed, but the traditional fish will almost certainly be his order again next time.
I myself opted for two poppadoms (£1.50) and a serving of mango chutney (£1.50).
I did try my best to stay away from something I knew would taste good already – but who can say no to poppadoms?
For my main, I chose the Kadai paneer (£10.95) which came topped with fresh ginger.
I had asked the waiter before I ordered if it was spicy to which he checked with the kitchen.
He returned and said that it had a mild heat much to my delight.
The curry was warm and comforting, providing a small bit of heat as we move into autumn.
I was unable to finish it all but my partner did weigh in to help me out, both of us loving any dish with paneer.
My choice must have been a good one, as my partner beelined for the chicken version, Kadhai Murgh (£11.95).
The curry had the same base of onions, tomatoes, Scottish low fat yoghurt and mixed peppers, but swapped out the traditional cottage cheese for a generous amount of succulent marinated chicken.
Again, trying not to fall into the trap of ordering the same classic dish as usual proved a wise decision.
The curry was fresh and gingery, and again left a wonderful glow.
A giant helping of sweet and soft peshwari naan (£3.75) and a portion of pilau rice (£2.95) was plenty for the two of us to share.
It certainly felt like a top end dining experience, and when the bill arrived, we were surprised it came to less than we’d guessed.
The food was fantastic and the service was attentive and helpful without being at all overbearing.
As for authenticity, all the spices used in their kitchen are grown in their family’s fields in India.
Most of the meat and seafood is sourced locally and their vegetables are grown at Tabla Market Garden in Perthshire.
Praveen’s portfolio is undoubtedly impressive, featuring stints at Gleneagles and Turnberry Hotels in Scotland, as well as in high-end hospitality in Jamaica and India.
As well as running an Indian Cook School in the city, Praveen also now has a range of Perth-made ready meals flying off shelves all over the country.
The Kumars’ business story is one of success to success.
Despite their focuses now being shared across multiple business facets, the quality and care invested in their flagship restaurant hasn’t flagged at all.
The future looks bright and I for one am excited to see what’s next.
Address: Tabla Indian Restaurant, 173 South Street, PH2 8NY
Tel: 01738 444630
Price: £56 for two starters, two mains and two alcoholic drinks
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