weather icon Drizzle

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.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Heavier traffic expected from EDC festival attendees
Electric Daisy Carnival attendees began to vacate the Las Vegas Motor Speedway starting before 5 a.m., the majority heading south on Interstate 15.
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DJ Steve Aoki visits Las Vegas comic book store
DJ Steve Aoki visits Torpedo Comics in Las Vegas Friday, May 17, 2019, for a signing for his new comic book series "Neon Future." (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas Smith & Wollensky opens at The Venetian
After 18 years, the Smith & Wollensky location on Las Vegas’ south Strip closed in 2017, to be re-born two years later with a rib-cutting — instead of a ribbon-cutting — in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Colin Cantwell, Creator Of Iconic Star Wars Ships Visits Vegas
Colin Cantwell, who created and designed such "Star Wars" ships as the X-Wing fighter, and Death Star, met fans at Rogue Toys in Las Vegas today. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Beauty & Essex in Las Vegas makes an EDC Wonder Wheel
In honor of the Electric Daisy Carnival, Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas makes its Wonder Wheel party-worthy. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Giada talks Vegas Uncork’d
Giada De Laurentiis talks during Aperitivo Hour, a Vegas Uncork'd event, at her Caesars Palace restaurant, Pronto, May 10, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Scenes from Vegas Uncork’d 2019 on the Las Vegas Strip
The 13th edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit brought four days of food, wine, celebrity chefs and parties to town, May 9-12. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three ingredients Gordon Ramsay can’t live without
Bon Appetit's Andy Baraghani interviews the "Hell's Kitchen" chef during a Vegas Uncork'd event at Caesars Palace, May 11, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Uncork’d launches wiith bubbles and a blade
Dozens of chefs representing some of the Strip’s top restaurants gathered Thursday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to launch the 2019 edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bunky the Clown at the clown convention
Bob "Bunky the Clown" Gretton talks about his life as a clown and the Clown Convention which was in Las Vegas at Texas Station this week. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Frying soft-shell crab at Lola’s in Las Vegas
At Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen in Las Vegas, soft-shell crab is breaded and fried and served either as an appetizer, po’boy or platter. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
The Stove in Henderson makes Pecan Pie Pancakes
At The Stove in Henderson, chef/partner Antonio Nunez stacks buttermilk pancakes with pecans and dulce de leche and tops them pie crust crumbs. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vinnie Paul remembered at Count's Vamp'd
The late rocker's favorite table at one of his favorite clubs in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
4DX movie experience at Red Rock
4DX movie experience during a demo reel at Red Rock. (Christopher Lawrence/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What To Do On May The 4th
There are plenty of events going on May the 4th this year around Las Vegas. Celebrate Star Wars and Comic Book Day all at once. The Rogue Toys, the 501st, Rebel Legion and Millennium Fandom Bar are all hosting fun events to help celebrate your geek-dom. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Water Sports Introduces New Attraction At Lake Las Vegas
Las Vegas Water Sports will debut its new aqua park attraction at Lake Las Vegas Days this weekend. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Making the Space Invader at Greene St. Kitchen in Las Vegas
Lysa Huerta, pastry cook at Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms in Las Vegas, starts with angel food cake, Fruity Pebbles ice cream and strawberry sorbet to create a space creature engulfed in flashing lights and swirling mists. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Pools
The M, Park MGM and NoMad are just a few great pools in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jose Andres explains Iberico pork
(Al Mancini/Las Vega Review-Journal)
Inside Life is Beautiful
Craig Asher Nyman explains how Life is Beautiful festival is booked and talks about this year's line-up. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America Pops Up In Vegas
Tattoo'd America, a new pop-up attraction on the Linq Promenade, had their grand opening Friday. The attraction is dedicate to the culture of tattoos. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jose Andres gets key to the Strip
Chef Jose Andres was presented with a Key to the Las Vegas Strip and a proclamation declaring April 26 Jose Andres Day in Clark County by County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on Friday. The ceremony took place at his restaurant Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sadelle’s in Las Vegas makes a grilled cheese with an inverted bagel
Michael Vargas, executive sous chef at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas, inverts an everything bagel and grills it with Swiss, cheddar and Muenster cheeses to make the Inverted Bagel Grilled Cheese. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures
Kassandra Lopez at Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prime rib is carved tableside at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas
Dave Simmons, executive chef of Lawry’s The Prime in Las Vegas, which plans special cuts for National Prime Rib Day, demonstrates the restaurant’s service from rolling tableside carving carts. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making gluten-free pizza at Good Pie in Las Vegas
Good Pie owner/pizzaiola Vincent Rotolo makes his gluten-free pizza.
Rockabilly fans enjoy Las Vegas weather poolside
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender runs Thursday, April 18th through Sunday, April 21st with a huge car show on Saturday featuring The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers and The Coasters. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)