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Features Director Andrea Thompson, visits the newly renovated Trader Vic’s, on London’s Park Lane.
Trader Vic’s is something of an institution. London’s first Polynesian-themed restaurant and tiki bar, it has hosted everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Elton John and Kylie Minogue. It’s just undergone a huge renovation to celebrate its 50th anniversary so if you want to soak up the party atmosphere, now’s the time to go.
Hotel restaurants have a tendency to be stuffy and humourless but Trader Vic’s, is anything but. Enter via a narrow staircase in the corporate-looking Hilton hotel lobby and suddenly you’re in another world. Cheerful bar staff sporting Hawaiian shirts are mixing exotic cocktails while Polynesian-themed waitresses glide by with trays of huge sharing cocktails. The vibe is up-market beachside tiki bar, a look much imitated by clubs such as Mahiki.
Trader Vic’s main claim to fame is that it invented the world famous Mai Tai cocktail (known as Paradise in a Glass) so we kicked off with one of those and a Rum Giggle (4 rums and ameretto) as we sank back in wicker chairs by the famous tiki bar. The restaurant’s new look takes inspiration from island sunsets and lush foliage, complete with shells, carved wood statues and Oceania artwork. Our drinks arrived beautifully presented in their signature oversized chunky glasses adorned with tropical fruit and little wooden statues – instantly evoking that holiday feeling. Both were delicately flavoured, refreshing but packed serious punch – the perfect mid-week sharpener.
The restaurant is also famous for its enormous Chinese wood-fired oven, which sits in the centre, where meat and fish are cooked slowly using ancient methods, which makes them incredibly tender. We opted for the succulent peri peri prawns in sweet chili-yoghurt sauce and the melt in your mouth tender BBQ spare ribs made to an original 1972 recipe, with a secret slightly sweet Trader Vic’s Glaze, which apparently has been known to turn many a vegetarian.
To follow, we’d highly recommend the generously portioned, moist and excellently cooked Ginger Lobster with fresh ginger, spring onion, and steamed rice and the Beef Malagasy – the restaurant specialty, a 200-gram fillet steak gratinated with Malagasy butter, sautéed mushrooms and roasted vine tomatoes.
If you can manage dessert, the warm chocolate pecan pie with bourbon toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream is to die for, but remember the real entertainment starts at 10pm when the DJ takes to the decks and live music starts, so save some room to dance. Perfect cocktails, good food, great atmosphere – and music until the early hours. What more could you ask for. It’s a must visit.
restaurant is open daily from 6 p.m. – 11.30 p.m. For Trader Vic’s, call +44 020 7208 4113 or email email@example.com