Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Quick Restaurant Review - Trader Vics

I've long heard of Trader Vics. It's legendary. They invented the Mai-Tai. And I've often meant to end up at the one here in Atlanta and see what all the hubbub is about. Yeah. So when Sporty suggested we try it out I was with it. It's supposed to Tiki island decor and all that, so was ready to put on my Hawaiian shirt and get jiggy with it.

I'm sorry I just wrote that.

First, Trader Vic's is in the basement - yeah, funny thing - the basement of the Hilton. No idea why. None. And there are no real signs, just a little thing over the elevator door that says Trader Vics and the writing on the button. And the Hilton has this really funny elevator bank, with elevators on all sides...but only on two opposite sides do they go down. Which they don't tell you, so I'm standing there for like three minutes wondering why the light keeps going off but the doors on the side I'm looking at aren't opening. Genius!

So I get downstairs and it's...a bar. Um...a bar?

Okay...let me tell you what I expected. Some place ill lit, with a long bar worked by with guys in formal Hawaiian shirts. A series of dark and darker rooms, flame pits (or at least charcoal), odd but delicious smells wafting around corners and drinks that looked semi lethal being carted about by Polynesian style Hooters girls. What I got was a stiff Applebees with a Tiki motif. Hey I enjoy a tourist spot as much as the next guy...but this was tourist circa 1950. The music was okay but the rest? Er...

No matter, I came for the company. Sporty and I settle in and get the appetizers for two instead of the usual crab cakes and couple of Mai Tais. These drinks were big AND strong. And then I found out something else. Trader Vic's is a Chinese restaurant! Okay, not strictly Chinese, more Polynesian Asian flair, but still, our entrees were in the "from our Wok" part of the menu. Rice in a bowl with chicken and shrimp for her, beef in bowl with veggies and rice for me. We got fortune cookies to finish.

We talked about the mundane: house stuff, work stuff, why she only had on one earring. Or at least we did till we got to the second round of Mai Tais. Then we talked about more philosophical things. And stress. Her leaving has me extremely stressed - eating wise, sleep wise, energy wise. She told me I need to just let go of my stress - but then doesn't appear to realize she is the cause of it. We got in a conversation where we danced around the issue, and if she wasn't occasionally the most wonderfully oblivious person I know I would have thought she was toying with me. I have a tendency to hang onto things in my soul. I want so much to tell her this...but it won't change anything and will only cause grief. She told me to pray on it, and I have been. Only when I pray I'm not praying for my happiness...I'm praying for success for her.

A third round of these and we'd have had to get a room to sleep it off. And it would have gotten ugly because I was already breaking a drinking rule, so we stopped. The service was swift, a bit of the beef undercooked, the "stuffed" puffer fish looked dusty and the bill for two plates of rice and couple of drinks was steep. On the upside they do validate.

Barkeep...water with umbrella. Man them Mai Tai's was strong.

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