In its simplest iteration, “tableside service” means servers grinding fresh black peppercorns or grating Parmesan cheese to finish salads or pastas with finesse. But this is Las Vegas, where the dining experience is just that much more elevated. Here, tableside preparations are the ultimate sensory experience, showcasing the beauty and story of a particular dish—from classic dry-aged steaks finished with sea salt and extra virgin olive oil (Carnevino), to the alla vodka pasta prepared inside a Parmigiano-Reggiano wheel (Salute). Savvy diners expect tableside shows that range from the whimsical to the glamorous—all worthy of an encore.
Imperial Peking Duck
Wing Lei, Wynn Las Vegas
Peking duck service at Wing Lei is an experience that tickles all the senses. Whet your appetite with a visual feast as the glistening duck emerges into view and makes its way through the dining room to the table. As the duck is carved tableside, the smoky and sweet aromas tease the olfactory senses. Then, finally, taste gets its turn, as tender slices and crispy duck skin are wrapped with cool, fresh spring onions and cucumbers and a sweet and rich Hoisin sauce. Once served, choose from steamed buns or Mandarin crepes to wrap all that duck goodness.
Roy Ellamar’s Snack Wagon
Harvest by Roy Ellamar, Bellagio
“Wagon” is Hawaiian slang for cart, but Roy Ellamar’s snack wagon is more like a beautifully crafted wooden carriage that graciously glides through the restaurant, featuring the exclusive creations of the day. The offerings are ever-changing, but always flavorful, farm-to-table delicacies. Ellamar has served a smoked salmon belly dip, tuna poke, Painted Hills hanger steak tartare and warm, savory pork belly paired with pickled apple and braised radish. The snack wagon has become a culinary stage for other chefs around town to show off their tableside service. Chefs including Todd English, Wilfried Bergerhausen and Shawn McClain have put their spin on one of the wagons.
The Chandelier, The Cosmopolitan
This is the cocktail that you imagine Charlie Bucket, Veruca Salt and Violet Beauregarde would be drinking as grown-ups. The Schnozberries Taste Like Schnozberries cocktail becomes a multisensory experience when a flowerpot is “watered” with liquid nitrogen and releases the schnozberry aroma. The Everlasting Gobstopper is an ice sphere made of ginger juice and miracle berries, and, as it melts, it simultaneously changes the way your palate perceives sweetness and the way the drink tastes. The cocktail itself is made of a spirited rum, bitter Aperol, sloe gin, a floral pink peppercorn lychee syrup and citrus. Hidden in the flowerpot is a sweet and sour lolligarden. Goes to show you are never too old for a good licking.
Bazaar Meat, SLS Las Vegas
Two years in the making, chef José Andrés has finally unveiled his playful dessert cart at Bazaar Meat. The only one of its kind among all his restaurants, this cart is the candyland of your dreams, with an oversize key gracing the top. The bright cherry-red and golden cart houses “some little sweets,” many of which are meant to be perfect, singular bites. Go for chocolate bonbons shaped like raspberry lips, salted caramel candies, key lime tarts, dark chocolate and almond éclairs, and praline caramelized puff pastries. And if you like to eat sweets set to music, arrange for the cart to upload your personal favorite selection using Bluetooth technology.
Mercato della Pescheria, The Venetian
From the Italian, Tiramisu means “lift me up,” or “carry me up.” If you’re a romantic, you will go with the notion that the name refers to the heavenly experience that the texture and taste of tiramisu offers. But, with the strong espresso coffee and high sweet content, the more likely translation of tiramisu is “pick me up,” since that’s exactly what it does, especially when prepared tableside at Mercato della Pescheria. On a wooden tray, a mixture of cocoa, espresso and coffee liqueur is poured from a copper pot over house-made ladyfingers. Then, imported mascarpone, whipped cream, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla are whipped together. The mascarpone mixture is spooned over the top of the ladyfingers, then served with dark chocolate shaved over the top. One bite and you’ll skip all the way to heaven.