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Where to Get Great Tableside Service Around the Globe

Courtesy of Le Train Bleu

We love tableside service, where servers may toss a salad, torch a flambé, or slice meat right onto your plate. It's like ordering a side of entertainment. The experience inevitably makes a meal more lively and dramatic—and thus, more memorable. Here are some of our favorite spots for tableside service, where you can literally savor a bit of the show.

By Kathleen Squires

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Joel Robuchon Restaurant

WHERE: Las Vegas

The “Chef of the Century” takes French service to the extreme at his three Michelin-starred restaurant in Sin City, with tableside embellishments starting with the bread service. Along with a cart showcasing a veritable boulangerie, another trolley arrives with a mound of hand-churned butter from Brittany. The server carves a few artful curls onto the butter plate, finishes it with fancy sea salt, and voila, the meal begins.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Las Vegas Guide

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WHERE: Tijuana, Mexico

This South-of-the-Border restaurant, Caesar's, is proud to claim the parentage of its namesake salad. Legend has it that Italian ex-pat Caesar Cardini created the starter in 1924 while making do with kitchen leftovers. It instantly became a hit dish, always tossed tableside within a large wooden bowl. Nearly a century later, the recipe and the presentation remain the same.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Mexico Guide

Francesco Tonelli 
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Eleven Madison Park

WHERE: New York City

The cloud-filled glass cloche that arrives at the table at Eleven Madison Park almost looks like something that came out of a delicious laboratory. When the lid is lifted, smoke tendrils swirl out, exposing a mini-grill fired by wood chips. Sitting on top are delicate slices of sturgeon, smoked right before the diner’s eyes. Enjoy an after-dinner treat with a card trick during dessert.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s New York City Guide

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Specials change every day of the week at this Roman eatery, Felice, open since 1936, but pasta lovers can always expect classics such as cacio e pepe on the menu. Translated as “cheese and pepper” the comforting dish is simply that, with hot, homemade pasta (usually spaghetti), stirred and served from a hollowed-out wheel of pecorino Romano cheese.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Rome Guide

Courtesy of Le Train Bleu
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Le Train Bleu

WHERE: Paris

There’s no better reason to arrive early for a train than to indulge at the opulent dining room, Le Train Bleu, nestled within the famous Gare de Lyon. As a matter of fact, the room, the food, and the service warrant a visit whether or not you’re catching a train. The tableside service at this Art Nouveau landmark includes beef tartare made-to-order and fish expertly filleted in plain view, hallmarks of the restaurant since its turn-of-the-century opening.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Paris Guide

Courtesy of Porcão
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WHERE: Rio de Janeiro

In Brazil’s favorite style of restaurant, the churrascaria, diners simply flip a coaster to its green side to signal readiness for the meaty onslaught. This chain, Porcão which has three locations in Rio, puts on one of the better shows, with bow-tied waiters wielding skewers sporting all manner of meat—beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, pork, you name it—slicing it right onto your plate until you surrender, by flipping that coaster to red.

PLAN YOUR VISIT: Visit Fodor’s Rio de Janeiro Guide

Courtesy of The Peninsula Hong Kong
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WHERE: Hong Kong

To celebrate this French-cuisine restaurant’s diamond jubilee—that’s 60 years in business—this Hong Kong special-occasion restaurant, Gaddi’s, gets even more memorable on the second Sunday of every month when the entire meal is served via tableside trolley. Foie gras is plated, lamb sauced, and dessert flambéed, old school style, as diners watch, eager for a taste.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Hong Kong Guide

Courtesy of DBGB
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WHERE: New York City

Though baked Alaska originated farther downtown at Delmonico’s Restaurant, they argue that the famous sponge cake, ice cream, and meringue dessert does not call for tableside service. At DBGB, which serves the classic in seasonal flavors, the dessert is served in a flashy style, with a dramatic pour of kirsch, and a resulting flourish of flame right at the table.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s New York City Guide

Courtesy of Palace Café
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Dickie Brennan’s Palace Cafe

WHERE: New Orleans

Visit this New Orleans eatery for a classic Big Easy dessert, created in 1951 right in the French Quarter at the original Brennan’s restaurant (founded by Dickie’s uncle). Bananas Foster, an assemblage of bananas, vanilla ice cream, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon, is laced with rum and banana liqueur then caramelized with a whoosh of fire. Palace Cafe justly, and sweetly, carries on the family tradition by doing the fiery spectacle at the table.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s New Orleans Guide

Courtesy of The Mandarin Oriental Hotel
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Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

WHERE: London

Order ice cream at this Michelin favorite, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, and the server becomes chemist as liquid nitrogen is rolled out, and ice cream is made within minutes. Presented on a cone with a choice of toppings, diners can choose from classic sprinkles to quirky Pop Rocks to customize their grand finale.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s London Guide