April 2011

Another blog. About Portland. And other stuff too.

about | archives | twitter | flickr | potma | iphone snapshots | facebook | yelp
rss feed | youtube | links | the burning log


Questions? Comments? Reservations?
anotherportlandblog[at]gmail[dot]com

Another Portland Blog

Saturday, June 23, 2007

 

In the tiki, tiki, tiki franchise

Tiki bars are a rare breed of drinking establishment. Portland is fortunate enough to have two excellent ones, the long-running Alibi Restaurant and Lounge (4024 N Interstate Ave) and new-comer Thatch (2733 NE Broadway St), which opened back in January. Once upon a time, the city once served as the home of no less than four tiki bars, one of which was a Trader Vic's next door to the Benson Hotel. It closed before long before I was old enough to drink and my parents never thought to take me down there for shish kabobs.

Back in the day, Trader Vic’s was a driving force, bringing tiki culture to the masses with 25 restaurants worldwide and a collection of popular drinking manuals. The franchise has been in steady decline for a few decades but the current owners seem to be staging a resurgence. One of their new restaurants/lounges recently opened in Bellevue, just outside of Seattle. I made a pit stop there during a recent trip north.




So how does this new version of Trader Vic's stand-up against the likes of Thatch and the Alibi? Not all that well. There's clearly a reverence for history at work up there. Just past the main doors, the Bellevue branch has a display case filled with decades of knickknacks. The drink menu in the lounge looks like a reprint of one from the 50s, complete with cheesy descriptions of each concoction and fairly offensive native stereotypes throughout. I'm surprised that topless Polynesians in hula skirts and grinning cartoon sailors on the menu's cover still fly with drinkers in the 21st century.




While the restaurant itself is under-themed with white tablecloths and downright boring altogether, the lounge holds up better. The tikis themselves are all elaborate, including a six-foot tall one near the entrance. The walls are loaded with décor and the candles on each table were cool enough for me to briefly plot how to smuggle one out of there. When you're paying $12 to eat a cheeseburger and $9 for a Pina Colada, shouldn't the meal come with a complimentary tiki candle?

Still, the bartenders didn’t skimp on the booze and that Pina Colada was probably the best I've ever encountered. Trader Vic's was supposedly the first place to bring Mai Tais to the states but I was disappointed with the one that was brought to the table after I finished my first drink. It was stronger than a Long Island Ice Tea and bland but maybe I've just been thrown off by years of improperly made, over-sweetened Mai Tais. Trader Vic's prides itself on coming up with the drink first and supposedly doing it up right. Is this what a Mai Tai is supposed to taste like?




The food menu was spendy, in the $$ - $$$ range, and this new Trader Vic's seems bent on drawing the over 40, Lexus-driving crowd. While it's clear that the designers tried to update the tiki theme for the 21st century, this latest incarnation of the franchise looks and feels more like a classic tiki bar mashed into a Cheesecake Factory. Will I ever go back? Probably not, but mostly because I can't think of when I'll be back in Bellevue. The food and the restaurant are best avoided but, if you've got the cash, the lounge is worth an occasional escape from the Seattle area's perpetual clouds to the faux-tropics.

Labels:


Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]



Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home


SEARCH THIS BLOG? SURE, NO PROBLEMO, AS BART SIMPSON USED TO SAY....





www.flickr.com




-archives-

  • October 2003
  • November 2003
  • December 2003
  • January 2004
  • February 2004
  • March 2004
  • April 2004
  • May 2004
  • June 2004
  • July 2004
  • August 2004
  • September 2004
  • October 2004
  • November 2004
  • December 2004
  • January 2005
  • February 2005
  • March 2005
  • April 2005
  • May 2005
  • June 2005
  • July 2005
  • August 2005
  • September 2005
  • October 2005
  • November 2005
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • September 2007
  • October 2007
  • November 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • April 2008
  • May 2008
  • June 2008
  • July 2008
  • August 2008
  • September 2008
  • October 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • January 2009
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • April 2009
  • May 2009
  • June 2009
  • July 2009
  • August 2009
  • October 2009
  • November 2009
  • December 2009
  • January 2010
  • February 2010
  • March 2010
  • April 2010
  • August 2010
  • September 2010
  • October 2010
  • November 2010
  • January 2011
  • February 2011
  • March 2011
  • April 2011

  • Clicky Web Analytics


    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?