A Rare Performance: Tableside Food Preparation

There are Japanese steakhouses all over the country where diners can watch meal prep as show. Volcanoes of oily onions set on fire. Meats and vegetables diced with vigor. Showboating is key: Pepper shakers flipped, metal clinking like the soundtrack to a swordfight. It’s gimmicky good fun.

On the flip side is classic tableside preparation, a far more elegant sensory experience. It’s meant to showcase the beauty and story of a particular dish, rather than the juggling skills of a cook. That’s what you’ll find at Rare. Steeped in history and polished in glamour, our tableside prep is no riotous affair. We offer two traditional tableside presentations that hearken back to glamorous days of old.

Order the Bananas Foster and watch as your skilled server preps it tableside!

Bananas Foster

In the early 1950s, New Orleans was the major port of entry for bananas shipped from Central and South America. The docks of New Orleans were lined with them, and the owner of Brennan’s, a fine restaurant in the French Quarter, wanted to use the bounty. He put his head chef to work, and the result was Bananas Foster. An instant hit, it’s made the restaurant famous the world over.

Bananas Foster is a glitzy dish, to be sure. We get to set fire near the linens and crystal, nobody gets hurt, and the smell is divine. Brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and banana liqueur are heated into a bubbling caramel bath for sliced bananas. The sizzling mixture emits a thick, sweet aroma. When the white rum is added, a column of fire bursts up, bright as a tangerine. Once the alcohol has burned off, the remaining mixture is served over vanilla ice cream. Many patrons come to Rare just for this dish alone.

Caesar Salad

During Prohibition, Americans flocked to Mexico for drinking and dining the way they wanted. The surge was both blessing and curse to restaurateurs. One busy evening in 1924, a Tijuana restaurant owned by Caesar Cardini fell perilously low on ingredients. The chef had to concoct something on the fly, using whatever he had on hand. His choice to make his new salad tableside was insurance, added for oomph. Nearly 100 years later, we can safely call his experiment a success.

You can hear more about the Caesar salad story when your server at Rare prepares the dish for you tableside. Consider it narrated salad, crafted in the traditional style. This means fresh ingredients like Reggiano parmiagano, garlic, coddled egg yolk, and croutons. And yes, it means anchovy. By macerating the anchovy against the course materials of garlic, pepper, sea salt, and the traditional wooden preparation bowl, your server releases the juices and combines flavor into something divine. A slow pour of olive oil emulsifies it all and turns the mixture creamy. There is much elbow grease involved, but it’s a delight to watch the recreation of that 1924 experiment that turned famous.

Come enjoy a little slice of history and a tableside presentation that is nothing short of an experience—a Rare experience that makes for a memorable meal. It’s a show of the art behind cooking. If you’re really interested in seeing the mastery behind the meal, consider reserving our Table One experience.