I don't like avocados. As a result, I also don't like guacamole. So perhaps the following statements are tinged with bias.
Or perhaps I am more objective about this matter than your average guacamole enthusiast.
Either way, I am hear to report that the recent trend in restaurants for waitstaff - armed with mortar and pestle - to make the guacamole right at the table (table-side seems to be the trendy word used to describe this service) is stupid.
For reasons that I will never understand, people seem to love watching men and women smash avocados in a faux-volcanic mortar while they watch. They think of this as a special treat. An added bit of service. A pulling back of the curtain to get a view of the work normally done in the kitchen. They consider this a guarantee of freshness. A kissing cousin of the farm-to-table movement.
It's none of these things.
The way to determine if your guacamole is fresh is to taste it. If it tastes fresh, isn't that the only relevant data point to consider? If the guacamole made at your table tasted less-than-fresh but the nine day old frozen guacamole tasted fresh and delicious, which would you prefer?
In the end, it's it our tastebuds that make the determination of freshness?
And if you're concerned that the restaurant might serve you less-than-fresh guacamole, why did you choose the restaurant in the first place? Do you normally eat in restaurants that you don't trust?
And what about the rest of the food, being prepared somewhere in the depths of the kitchen? How are you guaranteeing its freshness?
In addition, the making of guacamole table-side is actually detrimental to your dining experience, for two reasons:
1. While the person makes the guacamole at your table, conversation often comes to a grinding halt. Your attention is drawn to the mortar and pestle, and it's suddenly like watching the Food Network instead of spending time in conversation with friends.
I hate it.
2. The poor restaurant worker turned performance artist who must stand at your table and make your guacamole could be more productive if he or she were in the kitchen, making a larger batch of guacamole for everyone who has ordered the foul substance. Instead, the restaurant either hires multiple guacamole makers (requiring them to raise prices), temporarily strips the kitchen of a chef (slowing down food preparation), or forces you to wait for guacamole until the waitstaff is finished making guacamole for tables 7 and 9.
Years ago, I went to dinner with a girlfriend and her friends. Between courses, the waiter wiped the tablecloth clean with a small, white scraper. When he left, one of the women leaned in and whispered, "That's what makes this place fancy."
Forget the tastiness of the food or the promptness of service. It was the use of a small bit of plastic - a bauble - that impressed her.
Table-side guacamole is a bauble. It's unnecessary and purposeless ostentation. It's an unneeded and unappreciated interruption. it's the illusion of special or fancy.
It's stupid. Make the food in the kitchen. Bring it to the table when it's ready. I'll be busy chatting with friends.