At Dal Rae, the Lost Art of Tableside Service Survives – California News

At Dal Rae, the Lost Art of Tableside Service Survives – California News

Dal Rae co-owner Lorin Smith has prepared the tableside Caesar likely thousands of times, the way his dad and uncle taught him.

Danny Liao

At Dal Rae, the Pico Rivera restaurant where the same family has been serving surf and turf on white tablecloths for five decades, a traditional meal starts with the Caesar salad, and the Caesar starts with a dollop of anchovies. The pungent brown fish are finely minced in a food processor before being wheeled to a table in a wooden mixing bowl on a gleaming cart. Upon arrival they’re dramatically drizzled with a cocktail of condiments, each poured from several feet in the air: olive oil, red wine vinegar, a shot of Tabasco and a healthy trickle of Lea & Perrins. Then comes the dry mustard, the fresh garlic and the egg, which has been perfectly coddled in 180-degree water. Finally there’s the lemon, gently squeezed through cheesecloth to prevent its seeds from slipping into the mixture.

“There’s a joke that a guy from Texas came up with,” Lorin Smith, who co-owns the restaurant with his brother, Kevin, says while preparing the Caesar for a couple celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary. It’s a Friday night, and nearly every table seems to be celebrating something: They’ve come with gift bags, birthday sashes and balloons in tow. “What’s this here sauce?” Smith says, blending the words together to sound like “Worcester sauce.” The joke gets only a small chuckle from the diners, who have ordered the rib-eye and the filet mignon, but Smith wastes no time continuing his rapid-fire Caesar preparation with a side of comedy. Multitasking is not a problem. This is, after all, the only job the 61-year-old has ever…

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