JOE MANZELLA, OWNER-FOUNDER OF TAPS FISH HOUSE & BREWERY, HAS BEEN A BIG FAN OF TABLESIDE SERVICE FOR YEARS. A favorite haunt of his was the now-shuttered Riviera Restaurant. He first incorporated touches of the retro approach when here opened The Catch in Anaheim in 2010. Then when conceptualizing his newest location in Irvine, Joe set the goal to incorporate cart service to enhance the guest experience even with the challenge of the high volume at TAPS restaurants. With the help of his team, he made it happen and the tableside offerings at all of his locations have grown — from liquid nitrogen cocktails to salads tossed tableside, flambed appetizers and a sundae for two. Rumor has it that there maybe a tableside entree or two in the works.
TAPS Fish House & Brewery
At lunch the Veracruz Chopped Salad and The Cobb salad are offered. Caesar Salads, including making the dressing tableside are done at dinner only. The Sizzling Japanese Hamachi is fired tableside and we also prepare the cocktail sauce for the Colossal Prawn Cocktail tableside using six ingredients (ketchup, Atomic horseradish, cracked pepper, squeezed lemon, Worcestershire). The Siberian Mule, one of our original craft cocktails is prepared tableside and for dessert, we have our version of the Sundae for Two and we also torch creme brûlées at the table.
What sets that style of service apart from mainstream full service restaurants?The instant freshness or finishing of the dish at your seat versus in the kitchen, where it can sit for several minutes is key with many salads, especially Caesars, which suffer from wilted romaine if not brought to the table immediately. The finishing or preparing at the table is also a fun visual for the guests, who for the most part really have no idea how their food is prepared and what its composition is. They are always fascinated and entertained.
What is the average price of a tableside item? They range from $15-20.
One fan of TAPS tableside service is Chef Jamie Gwen. She comes back just for the cocktail sauceon the prawn cocktail at our new location in Irvine.