Why walk over to the bar, the kitchen, or the cheese display when it can come to you? Restaurants are now using carts to convey everything from cocktails and Champagne to entrees and the cheese course to their guests. The mobile filling stations allow staffers to give diners a show by accompanying their meal by crafting a top shelf martini, cracking open a clay-baked fish, or popping the cork on a rare bottle of bubbles for them. Here are eight restaurants offering exquisite tableside service, guaranteed to make you feel like a VIP.
Bourbon Steak, Washington, D.C.
Head bartender Torrence Swain created the Monkey Business tiki-inspired cocktail just so tipplers could enjoy a show at the table. Made with Monkey Shoulder Scotch and Drambuie, it’s served over ice with flame-kissed, brûléed banana and freshly grated nutmeg. Warning: if you enjoy too many, you may be inclined to start swinging from the chandeliers while loudly proclaiming you’re the king of the jungle.
Charlie Palmer at The Knick, New York, New York
Legend has it that that Knickerbocker Hotel was the birthplace of the Martini. To honor that legacy, the restaurant offers a cart packed with all the components for the classic cocktail (available upon request or for special events). Expect to find a bottle of Tanqueray No. Ten, dry and rouge vermouth, and orange and citrus bitters, as well as all the necessary equipment. (Ed. note: I seriously hope there’s a vodka option available.)
Kachina Southwestern Grill, Westminster, Colorado
Echoing a traditional Native American cooking technique, rainbow trout is stuffed with lemon, thyme, and pungent epazote leaves, shrouded in cornhusks, and wrapped in clay etched with a fish drawing. After it’s baked, the pescetarian entree is wheeled to the table and cracked open for the guest.
The Source, Washington, D.C.
On a foggy Sunday morning, there is no more welcome sight than this Bloody Mary cart coasting in our direction across the dining room. Choose from three options: classic, Chesapeake topped with Crab Louis Salad and horseradish panna cotta, or spicy Sichuan accompanied by pickled chilies. Then add your choice of celery, olives, and a slew of salts. Suddenly, our hangovers aren’t that bad after all.
The Palm Court at The Plaza Hotel, New York City
Paging 007, your Martini cart awaits! James Bond would choose between perfectly chilled Chopin Potato vodka or Ketel One while those who prefer gin can opt for either Tanqueray No. Ten or Plymouth. His is shaken, not stirred, of course, but you can go your own way. Licensed to thrill.