Archive for August, 2011

Tiki Review: Trader Vic’s PDX

It’s probably been a couple of years since I’ve posted a tiki review, but then again tiki joints are pretty few and far between. That makes it all the more amazing folks are opening new tiki establishments. For decades, Portland had a Trader Vic’s on Broadway in the space now occupied by El Gaucho. I believe that location finally called it quits in 1996, probably due to shifting tastes and a patron base that was continuing to move to the suburbs. Not sure why Trader Vic’s decided to open an outpost in a relatively small market like Portland, but I would like to believe it has something to do with our collective love of tiki here. I suspect the rationale probably had more to do with closely studied demographics. The new Vic’s location is in the Pearl, ground zero for affluent NW retirees. Based on my observation from dinner at Vic’s PDX last night, the patron mix certainly did skew older, so their calculation are probably spot on.

So how’s the decor? It’s pretty awesome as one might expect. Lots of tikis of various sizes. Glass floats hanging from the ceiling. Just about every flat surface covered in bamboo. Tables all have tiki candle holders and tiki salt and pepper shakers. Even the menus are in the old Vic’s style. Of course the drinks are fantastic and numerous. The food is pretty spendy if you’re in the dining room, but the lounge offers cheaper, and smaller, dishes. The big advantage to being the dining room is the service, which is pretty great. It’s refreshing experiencing efficient and unobtrusive service in a Portland restaurant. This aspect will especially be appreciated by the older crowd I imagine, who undoubtedly are nostalgic for a time when service was more of a priority. The food was, not surprisingly, good. Nothing shockingly adventurous or memorable, but it was exactly what one would expect from Trader Vic’s. I enjoyed the spareribs from the famous Vic’s Chinese Oven, but our Caesar salad was also really great. Entrees are crazy expensive, but that’s what you get for sitting in the dining room. Really, I imagine you’re paying a premium for the service. Overall, I’m super-excited Vic’s is back in Portland. I’ll probably be spending the next couple of years working my way through the cocktail menu.

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