Dick’s duck’s delish

The Grand Marnier flames and sizzles as the server prepares to pour it over ice cream.

The Grand Marnier flames and sizzles as the server prepares to pour it over ice cream.

Photo by David Robert

The peaks of thick meringue coating the rock-solid ice cream went from snow-white to brown before our eyes as the cognac flames leapt a foot high.

“How do you know when it’s done?” I asked.

“When it’s burnt,” the dessert server said, then cackled like a half-crazed magician laughing at his own joke.

A few minutes earlier, he’d wheeled over a cart with a gas burner blazing and a bottle of Grand Marnier and Kahlua precariously close. His special ladle sat on the fire and sizzled as he poured the Grand Marnier into it. He dramatically poured the flaming alcohol onto the 5-inch cube of fluffy meringue and all over the plate.

He sliced the near-burnt delight in half and served us each a portion. We discovered a layer of mint, a layer of chocolate and a layer of macadamia nut ice cream atop a bed of sponge cake. The dramatic presentation made up for the basic taste.

Baked Alaska ($9.75) comes as a two-portion serving at Trader Dick’s in John Ascuaga’s Nugget.

The atmosphere at Trader Dick’s is fun; it’s all about having a happy, good time. The thrill of the evening was the banging of a 4-foot gong twice for the singing of “Happy Birthday to You” and once for “Happy Anniversary to You.” I can’t wait to visit Polynesia where excitement such as this is certainly bigger, noisier, fierier and more frequent.

Darryl from Hollywood, Calif., served our dinner prior to the blazing Alaska. We considered ordering the chef’s special dinner ($27.50 per person), which was explained as follows: Do you have trouble ordering from a Pan-Asian menu? If so, why not have our Trader Dick’s chef make a big sampling of everything. It includes baked Alaska, too.

I chose the pan-seared Peking duck breast with Asian seasoning spice, crispy taro root and Peking sauce ($20.95). Wow, good duck.

Michael went for variety with the Hawaiian mixed grill ($20.95): mahi mahi, ono, crab cake with fresh ginger-lime rice wine sauce. The fish were delish.

For appetizers we had Vietnamese spring rolls ($6.95). These little gizmos contained prawns, pork, lettuce, rice noodles, basil and mint wrapped in rice paper and served with a spicy peanut dipping sauce. They were lip-smackingly flavorsome.

We also had lightly fried, non-greasy Japanese tempura ($8.95), which included asparagus and sweet carrots in addition to the traditional mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower and onions piled high on the plate. Nothing hits the spot quite like fried vegetables.

Before all this noshing, we hung out in the lounge near the immense bar, sipping on a Scorpion in a kitschy, souvenir vase ($5.25) through 2-foot-long straws. I have no idea what’s in a Scorpion besides rum(s), but Trader Dick’s offers a 46-ouncer, hopefully for sharing. Be sure to request the long straws, though, otherwise you don’t get the full experience.

Other drinks on the bar menu include Rangoon Ruby, Volcano, Zombie and Blue Hawaiian. They’re all strong and fruity and perfect for listening to the keyboardist in the dimly-lit lounge. He’ll tug at your heartstrings with his deeply sincere theme songs, but when he’s accompanied by the red-headed, Anne Murray-ish vocalist, watch out. You can’t keep your eyes off her.