Posted on February 28, 2019

The Death of the Tableside Presentation

Understanding an Old School Approach in a New Era of Dining

Being in the restaurant industry since the 1990s, I’ve seen trends come and go. Tapas style, which was all the rage in the early 2000s, made room for the gastropub style dining that we see today. Few dining options stand the test of time — steakhouses, traditional Italian, diners, pizza, and pubs all share the same traits. They stand the test of time. Don’t get me wrong; being in the business as long as I have, I can say I’ve seen my fair share of these types of restaurants open and close several times, but the tried and true restaurants (the restaurants we go to, our parents go to, or grandparents enjoyed) are still standing.

Fine dining restaurants in mid-populous areas are getting tougher to find these days. Even harder? Tableside preparations of your favorite dishes or dishes you may not have thought could be made for you on one cart, right in front of you, to order. Caesar salads, Steak au poivre, crepes Suzette, cherries jubilee, bananas foster, fish en papillote –the classics. At Kevin’s, we offer two of these traditional dishes nightly – Caesar salad and bananas foster. Why? Because keeping old traditions alive and seeing the expression of a guest’s first experience of the taste of a fresh salad or a dessert flamed to perfection right in front of their eyes is what fine dining is all about.

When you think of old traditions, you like to think of those traditions that you grew up with. Maybe it was going to your favorite Italian restaurant with your family. Perhaps it was Sunday dinner or Saturday morning breakfast. For me, what I grew up with in this business is a well-made Caesar salad. I’ve been rewarded in having such a great recipe for mine. People that know of it come to Kevin’s specifically for it. With that being said, I ask the question: When was the last time you’ve seen a tableside option on a restaurant’s menu? They do come few and far between with today’s popular menus striving to be the freshest and most up to date on what’s the hottest vegetable or what the newest and hottest cut of meat the butcher has to offer. Tableside preparations have gone by the wayside culinarily in part because it is old school or old fashioned, but it surely is an excellent key in a dining experience.

Continuing in old traditions such as our niche presentations keeps all age groups coming into our restaurant. The bananas foster entertains everyone from children to our most distinguished guests. The salad tells its own story with every use of the same tools I’ve been using to prepare it for as long as I can remember. It’s one of the oldest forms of entertaining people from an entertainer’s perspective. Easier as it may be to have a conversation with a tough guest about the salad than what the weather is like outside! Once I start moving that tableside cart and other guests see the fun we are having, we see a snowball effect, and every person wants to get in on the action.

Maybe I’m old. Maybe I’ve been doing this a long time. Maybe I’m set in my ways. But this thing we do I can’t let die.

If you want to experience the tradition of tableside presentations, then you should reserve a table at Kevin’s today!