One, two, three ... reveal!
PLATTER service, side-table service, service with a kiss -- well, sort of. You get more kinds of service than there are cuts of Wagyu beef at Wolfgang Puck’s Cut in Beverly Hills.
Platter service (sometimes called French service) would be when the waiter brings a dish of, say, the creamed chard with fried egg, puts a little on each plate using a spoon and fork in a tong grip, then sets the dish in the center of the table. Side-table service is when the server brings out the roasted turbot and cuts it for you at a side table temporarily brought next to your dining table. (The sommelier often uses the side table too.)
And for some courses, it takes as many waiters as there are diners in a party to serve up those rib-eye steaks or double-thick Kurobuta pork chops. A battalion of black-suited waiters and waitresses stands above seated patrons, holding white-cloched plates that hover in the air. There’s a moment of palpable tension just as all the plates are set on the table simultaneously, then, almost in a continuous motion, the cloches lifted all at once. It’s kind of thrilling -- like watching synchronized swimmers or the Rockettes and waiting to see if someone misses a beat.
It might seem as if the best waiters are born with the ability, but good timing takes practice. The staff gets at least once-weekly drills, says manager Matteo Ferdinandi. “The way it works is that we always look at each other in the eyes before we drop,” says Ferdinandi, “and the lead server gives a signal.... kind of like when you purse your lips to send a kiss.”
The Richard Meier-designed space presents some challenges. A table in the back corner seems to cause some traffic jams, and more than a couple of waiters have bumped into each other, shooting one another dirty looks.
And what if you’re sitting at a booth? If four people are at a booth, says Ferdinandi, two servers drop plates for the diners seated at positions 2 and 3 (the inner seats), then they step back and two more waiters drop plates for positions 1 and 4.
Ferdinandi sees this level of service as the norm. “I’m from Venice [Italy],” he says. “This is the way it should be.”
-- Betty Hallock
* The Prime Grill kosher steakhouse and sushi bar has opened on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. The restaurant is offering a Hanukkah tasting menu, starting Friday through Dec. 23 for $125 a person. Courses include smoked sable with fresh melon and radish sprouts, curried cauliflower bisque, plum-glazed short ribs and soofganiot with date and honey syrup.
421 N. Rodeo Drive, Rodeo Collection, (310) 860-1233.
* Billed as a Euro-Asian “galerie culinaire,” Celadon has sprung up in the space that had housed Yi Cuisine. The executive chef is Danny Elmaleh, formerly of Lemon Moon. On the menu: twice-cooked drunken chicken, Korean spicy hotpot, ahi tuna Caprese, Szechuan spicy noodles and black sesame custard.
7910 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, (323) 658-8028.
* Downtown, the Edison Bar has opened in an alley off 2nd Street. The space includes a game room, dance floor and several lounges. Duck in to sample a single malt from the long list of Scotches, a house cocktail such as the Charlie Chaplin (apricot brandy, sloe gin and lime), an Eastside burger (prime sirloin) or a Westside burger (vegetarian). Just around the corner, Weeneez has opened. The hot dog stand offers Polish sausage, tamales and, well, weenies (the L.A. Hottie comes with chili, jalapenos, cheddar and bacon). Meanwhile, Angelique Cafe has been sold by owners Florence and Bruno Herve Commereuc, who plan to open another restaurant on the Westside.
The Edison Bar, 108 W. 2nd St., #101, (213) 613-0000. Weeneez, 500 S. Spring St., (213) 817-6002. Angelique Cafe, 840 S. Spring St., (213) 623-8698.