Kitchen Table Squared’s food is magical, the service is not

Kitchen Table Squared excels at culinary creativity. Chef Javier Chavez borrows elements from Latin and Hispanic traditions, tucking little surprises into his interpretations of the classics. But while the back of the house delivers a stellar performance, the front of the house still appears to be in rehearsals.

Consider the mixed green salad ($5), the name of which belies its departure from the mundane. Roasted tomatoes, carrots, figs, apples and sunflower seeds (lots of sunflower seeds) had been layered into a glass jar, which was deconstructed into a bowl at the table and tossed with a piquant pear vinaigrette that skillfully balanced the sweeter elements.

But the salad’s description on the menu listed white-chocolate popcorn as the first ingredient. Popcorn in savory dishes isn’t unheard of — chefs are playing with that prodigious crunch — but it is offbeat enough to draw attention, so it was somewhat surprising when the salad arrived without it. When asked, our waiter said they had run out, so the chef added more sunflower seeds and croutons. Definitely not the same — not in flavor profile or texture — and certainly not as novel as white-chocolate popcorn. Restaurants do run out of things, but when it’s a star ingredient, the dish should go on hiatus.

The salad was still good, but an entree of zabuton steak ($24) was better. Though zabuton or “pillow” steaks — named for their square shape, and cut from the upper part of the chuck — are uncommon in Las Vegas, thorough marbling packs them with flavor. The real genius of this dish, however, was that it had been sliced and served on a bed of garlicky creamed spinach and piled with wilted arugula and red onion that cut the richness. Though the steak was supposed to be served with a quail egg, it was nowhere to be seen.

Crab bisque ($8) was the kind of soup sailors dream about, filled with chunks of sweet, briny crab meat in a rich, creamy bath with a distinctive note of brandy. The promised crab fritter was absent, though, and worse, the bisque had skinned over, a sign that it had been sitting too long.

Two visits were equally beset by timing issues, beverages arriving 20 minutes after seating (one at a time) and everything that followed lagging behind. That took the sheen off an excellent starter of chicharron tostadas ($8), the crisp, bacony bases just stout enough to balance a lively layering of zesty chicken tinga, fiery jalapeno cole slaw and earthy black beans.

Onion soup ($6) was excellent. The deeply flavored veal stock was a touch worthy of Escoffier, with assertive Gruyere, and firm, mellow caramelized onions. A crispy-skinned chile-rubbed half chicken ($22) had flavor sparks from cilantro and lime. Skewers of chicken with a pineapple-chile glaze and shrimp with a garlic-lemon glaze ($21), cooked and served on a flat Himalayan salt block, were moist and thoroughly infused with flavor, the shrimp so sweet it was reminiscent of scallops.

But throughout dinner, our waiter repeatedly used words such as “long-awaited” and “finally,” not only to us but to all tables within earshot, which is never a good sign. We appreciated his extremely pleasant demeanor and profuse apologies, but there are systemic service problems at Kitchen Table Squared. The restaurant grew out of Kitchen Table in Henderson, which only serves breakfast and lunch, and there’s a lot more going on here.

But while Chavez is creating his dreamy cuisine, he needs somebody who can deliver on the details and instill a sense of urgency in the staff.

If you go

■ Kitchen Table Squared, The Grammercy, 9205 W. Russell Road; 702-982-8218

■ The essence: The kitchen gives a stellar performance, but the front of the restaurant is still in rehearsals.

Las Vegas Review-Journal restaurant reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0474. Follow @HKRinella on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Recycled Art and Cute Dogs at Summerlin Festival Of Arts
Recycled Art, Cute Dogs Abound At Summerlin Festival Of Arts (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Patisserie Creates Life-size Sculpture Of 20th Anniversary Of Cirque Du Soleil Show
Bellagio Patisserie Creates Life-size Sculpture Of 20th Anniversary Of Cirque Du Soleil Show (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jason Aldean talks about the possibility of a Las Vegas residency
Country superstar Jason Aldean discusses his feelings about playing in Las Vegas and says he'd be interested in a Las Vegas residency when the time is right at the iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas on September 21, 2018.(John Katsilometes/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who To Watch At Life Is Beautiful
Life Is Beautiful Setup
Workers preparing Fremont street for this weekend's Life is Beautiful festival, on Wednesday, September 19, 2018. Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The 46th annual Greek Food Festival will feed 25,000 people in Las Vegas
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zia Records Move
Zias Records is moving from its Sahara Avenue and Arville Street location to a bigger store. (Mat Luscheck/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video from Fertitta wedding Sep. 1
video from @wedstagrams of Fertitta wedding at Red Rock Resort
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like