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Trader Vic's, Dallas, TX (restaurant)
Theotherchad
Member

Joined: Apr 19, 2006
Posts: 3
From: Texas
Posted: 2007-05-24 2:55 pm   Permalink

So are there any comparable places in the Houston area? I would love to find a cool tiki bar to frequent without driving for four or five hours. The only place I can think of is a little open air thatched roof tiki hut in Galveston on the seawall called Captain Jacks htat sits in front of the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort. But that's really not the same thing at all.

 
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Kenike
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 24, 2003
Posts: 1204
From: McKinney, TX
Posted: 2007-05-24 4:57 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2007-05-24 14:55, Theotherchad wrote:
So are there any comparable places in the Houston area? I would love to find a cool tiki bar to frequent without driving for four or five hours. The only place I can think of is a little open air thatched roof tiki hut in Galveston on the seawall called Captain Jacks htat sits in front of the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort. But that's really not the same thing at all.



I don't believe there's anything you could call "comparable" but I do know Trader Vic's is on the hunt for a suitable location in Houston. Maybe some of the local Houstonians on TC can direct you to the next best thing.....?
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Theotherchad
Member

Joined: Apr 19, 2006
Posts: 3
From: Texas
Posted: 2007-05-25 10:55 am   Permalink

Thanks, I appreciate the quick reply. It seems that all of the tropical themed places I know of are more Caribbean than Polynesian. We've got a nice Tommy Bahama's with a beautiful bar in the Woodlands just north of Houston, but it's not in any way tiki themed. Excellent three rum pina coladas, though!

 
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Kenike
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 24, 2003
Posts: 1204
From: McKinney, TX
Posted: 2007-05-31 7:04 pm   Permalink

The old Moai that formally stood guard in front of Dallas Trader Vic's has been officially declared "beyond repair." Those of you who have seen it recently know what kind of shape it was in...not good indeed. TV hired an outside company who is going to make a mold of it and build a replica that will take it's place out front sometime in the future. The old tiki (which officially tipped the scale at over 4000 lbs.) will eventually be auctioned for charity.
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Unkle John
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 22, 2003
Posts: 1217
From: Middle-of-the-Ocean, TX
Posted: 2007-06-02 10:10 am   Permalink

Thats good to hear Kenike!
Son of Moai is better than no Moai at all.
Atleast the old one will get a good home with a cherished collector. Maybe one of us

[ This Message was edited by: Unkle John 2007-06-02 10:11 ]


 
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Kenike
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 24, 2003
Posts: 1204
From: McKinney, TX
Posted: 2007-07-26 06:51 am   Permalink

BOOOOO!

From the August edition of D Magazine.


Tepid Tiki

by Teresa Gubbins

Bad news first: the 3,000-pound tiki man that stood tall on Mockingbird for 40 years in front of the original Trader Vic’s might not make it. He is currently on life support with a terminal case of termites, and a full restoration appears impossible.

SOUTH PACIFIC: Tricked-up sea bass is seared “Polynesian style.”
But nearly everything else about Trader Vic’s, the kitschy Polynesian-fusion restaurant that recently reopened in what is now the Hotel Palomar complex at Mockingbird and Central Expressway, has remained miraculously intact.

It’s a great tale of unintentional preservation in which the place sat untouched for nearly 20 years while under the ownership of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s organization. Formerly a Hilton hotel, it was bought by Realty America Group and remodeled into the chic Hotel Palomar. A Trader Vic’s franchise was obtained and, as tiki fans around the world held their breaths, a restoration launched.

Anything that could be retained was: weathered lamps, glass balls, carved beams, handpainted wallpaper, bamboo rods, jade-green ceramic room dividers. It feels a little like Disneyland, but since so many of the fixtures are vintage originals, it possesses an authenticity that a newly constructed equivalent would not. Renovations, such as the raising of the floor in the main dining room, have been artfully applied. Though true to the era, the furniture is new, and so are portions of the carpet, reproduced from a pattern similar to the original.

Also new is the cozy bar called Hinky Dinks, named after the original branch in Emeryville, California, with flat-screen TVs that run nonstop showings of Gilligan’s Island and Bikini Beach. Bartenders wear Hawaiian shirts and, like the rest of the staff, are better at exuding good cheer than delivering great service.

A healthy percentage of the clientele appears to be “original” as well. Trader Vic’s must have been one hell of a scene back in the ’70s. Because the surge of nostalgia is so intense that, from day one, hordes of middle-class baby boomers have mobbed the bar and besieged the dining room, sometimes with teen offspring, to relive their glory days.

THE GOOD NEWS: The Kobe sirloin was one of the best dishes, and the bar, Hinky Dinks, is beautifully restored.
The food sure isn’t the draw. Not that there’s anything wrong with Szechwan prawns, gingered beef and Chinese broccoli, or lamb curry. They’re well-prepared, skillfully seasoned, admirably procured. Trader Vic’s has even installed a chef with a capital C: Mickie Crockett, who previously worked at Gaylord Texan Resort and Culpepper Steakhouse, among other places.

But to comprehend fully what a minor role the food plays in the Trader Vic’s experience, all you have to do is order those $24 prawns to go and place them next to a comparable $5.99 takeout from your favorite local Chinese spot. Not that much difference.

To give Crockett her due, she’s done an okay job of updating some of the funkier options of old. Crab rangoons, for example, held a solid dose of lump crab within their fried wonton shells, and they weren’t too greasy. Crockett has also added modern-sounding items such as the big-eye tuna poke, a ceviche-like mixture of chopped raw tuna in a soy-chili marinade topped with sliced avocado and served with crisp taro chips. The Caesar used Romaine hearts and fine Grana Padano Italian cheese, and those were fresh oysters and fresh spinach floating in the creamy bongo-bongo soup.

Starters and stir-fries were more reliable than the steaks and chops slow-cooked in the restaurant’s two wood-fired ovens. The survival of these two huge Chinese ovens, a good 4 feet high, was tremendous. But in practice, they seem to present difficulties in terms of gauging doneness. A slight undercooking might not be a problem with the restaurant’s signature glazed Chilean sea bass, accompanied by baby spinach, hearts of palm, and charred orange. But it’s obviously no good to be served an underdone version of the pork chop Hawaiian, its center still alarmingly pink. And the “grilled pineapple” with which it was served consisted of a single circular slice; give me a break.

Although they were willing to modernize the food, for some reason they’ve not updated the drinks. Admittedly, Trader Vic’s bar menu is infamous, with its hokey names—Scorpion, Samoan Fog Cutter, Doctor Funk of Tahiti—and schlocky glasses to match. They’re potent for sure, but they don’t taste that good, and the bartenders’ habit of pouring frozen blended drinks over larger ice cubes makes for an unpleasant drinking experience. These days, we have access to fresh fruit juices. You can only take nostalgia so far. 5330 E. Mockingbird Ln. 214-823-0600. $$$.




Update the drinks to what? Kool-Aid and Bacardi like every other bar in Dallas? I bet she'd like the Schooner Mai Tai at Joe's Crab Shack. Now THERE'S a drink with an un-hokey name.

Oh...forgot to mention...the Scorpion Bowl was voted one of the 8 best drinks in Dallas in the same issue.
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[ This Message was edited by: Kenike 2007-07-26 14:17 ]


 
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Unkle John
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 22, 2003
Posts: 1217
From: Middle-of-the-Ocean, TX
Posted: 2007-07-26 12:49 pm   Permalink

Lets hope we have enough faith in the owners they don't take that suggestion by her to heart. I think it was a decent article, but I feel with those comments, she missed the point of why it has "resurged" as a icon.
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rugbymatt
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Jun 03, 2005
Posts: 1202
From: Sacramento
Posted: 2007-07-26 1:30 pm   Permalink

Maybe the misguided Ms. Gubbins needs to see the Dallas TV through the eyes of one of the local ohana to truly appreciate it. Volunteers?

 
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Rumbuddy
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Apr 09, 2007
Posts: 21
From: Dallas Area
Posted: 2007-07-26 2:04 pm   Permalink

I had only read my issue as far as the Scorpion being pictured and named in the top drinks, that was good enough for me! Anyone who mentions they are going out to eat, I ask if they've been to TV yet, and everyone says no - I tell them they HAVE to go! Say, do you think it's safe to go back, maybe they've forgotten me by now? My birthday is coming up...
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Unkle John
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 22, 2003
Posts: 1217
From: Middle-of-the-Ocean, TX
Posted: 2007-07-27 10:08 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2007-07-26 14:04, Rumbuddy wrote:
Say, do you think it's safe to go back, maybe they've forgotten me by now? My birthday is coming up...



Naw I doubt they will remember.

When is you b-day?
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Kenike
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 24, 2003
Posts: 1204
From: McKinney, TX
Posted: 2007-09-22 09:59 am   Permalink

In response to the article in the August issue of D Magazine, I wrote a letter to the editor. To my surprise, it's printed in the October issue in it's entirety:


Totally Wrong About Trader Vic's
Also in August, Teresa Gubbins' less-than-enthused review of the renovated Trader Vic's ("Tepid Tiki") prompted several e-mails questioning her food judgement, including this one.


Trader Vic’s has had several glowing reviews since they opened in March, so I was quite surprised that Ms. Gubbins’ review was lukewarm at best. I’ve been to the restaurant many times and have experienced most of the menu myself. Not once have I left disappointed. Although there are plenty of restaurants that serve excellent food in Dallas, this is not the main reason I frequent Trader Vic’s and I believe this is where Ms. Gubbins really missed the point.

First, visiting Trader Vic’s is experiencing a unique slice of American pop culture the way it was 40+ years ago. As Ms. Gubbins pointed out, the original restaurant has been painstaking restored to its former glory. This, in addition to the attentive staff, helps to create a fun tropical atmosphere where the exotic rum concoctions help to satisfy an insatiable longing for an escape from the world outside.

Ms. Gubbins’ assessment that Trader Vic’s drinks “aren’t that good” was surprising, especially since the Scorpion Bowl was voted one of the 8 best cocktails in Dallas in the same issue as her review ("The Best Of Big D"). You won’t find Kool-Aid and Bacardi Mai Tai’s here, just the good stuff. The bar menu has been a staple for decades and is what Trader Vic’s is probably best known for. “Hokey names” for drinks served in “schlocky glasses” is part of the appeal, and only adds to the overall fun and exotic atmosphere. Nothing gives me more pleasure than sipping a Zombie while the 40-year old tiki carvings glare in approval.

Her statement that the original clientele from years ago have “mobbed the bar and besieged the dining room” makes it sound like a retiree booze cruise. Sure, Trader Vic’s is frequented by those who remember the days when it was more socially acceptable to drink a Suffering Bastard and not feel silly, but they are certainly outnumbered by the younger and curious who have only heard and read the stories until now. I should know because I’m one of them.


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Unkle John
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 22, 2003
Posts: 1217
From: Middle-of-the-Ocean, TX
Posted: 2007-09-23 10:13 am   Permalink

Excellent reply Dennis!!

 
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Kenike
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 24, 2003
Posts: 1204
From: McKinney, TX
Posted: 2007-11-04 11:36 am   Permalink

Here's a good reason to go on Wednesdays or any day between 4:00 & 7:00



Mai Tai's and Zombies are usually $9.50. Bahias are usually $10.00. I never drink beer at Trader Vic's so not sure how good those prices are.
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Unkle John
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 22, 2003
Posts: 1217
From: Middle-of-the-Ocean, TX
Posted: 2007-11-04 11:58 am   Permalink

When we come down for thanksgiving.. we'll meet you there between 4 & 7!!

 
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arwIII1970
Member

Joined: Nov 11, 2007
Posts: 2
Posted: 2007-11-11 07:32 am   Permalink

I just moved from Dallas after 7 years. I lived for the last 3 years across the street from the Palomar Hotel in Mockingbird Station, so I watched the old hotel and TV's get revamped. I even bought two old chairs from the old Trader Vic's a couple years ago - each bamboo chair was $10 if you can believe it. Anyways, I've been to the new Trader Vic's dozens of times in the past 6 months. Obviously, I love it and I've gotten to know the chef and the bartenders pretty well. I've been a TV's fan since going as a 5 year with the parents to TV's Houston in the old Shamrock Hotel (this was the creepiest and funnest tiki bar ever, if anyone was ever there), then later to TV's Chicago. (I liked TV's Chicago, but the drinks were almost undrinkable IMO, and the decor in need of a thorough cleaning, but still worth it). It is a ton of fun to go to the Dallas TV's since they put a lot of money into the renovation and the attitude of the people that work there is outstanding. Dallas is a pretty competitive restaurant and drinking market, so they want to make TV's work again. Anyways, there are some older types that go to TV's for dinner and memories (talking 70/80 year old types - btw this hotel is where wealthy HP types have long conducted afternoon affairs). But TV's is mostly filled with curious newbies - a very wide ranging age mix. I met so many groups of girls in there - they were curious about the drinks and decor and went there on a "girls night out", which for me was great since I knew so many of the drinks. I always liked the "girl-friendly" and funky-offbeat vibe of the place. Your typical macho Texan guy might avoid TV's - which has always been fine by me. You also get a bit of the international types in there too. Some tiki bars are a little dodgy (TV's Chicago in the final years for example), but the Dallas TV's is definitely upscale. Lars is a great bartender (from East Berlin!) and concocts several off the menu drinks, including "Henrik's Delight" which is outstanding. The Scorpion is a great drink and rightly in the Dallas Top 10 Drinks. The overall decor is nice and authentic, but not stuffy or moldy or dusty. I've taken several friends and groups of friends here, and mostly we cannot remember what happens as we walk out the door. The drinks are sneaky strong. Around the bar are several tables and booths. But if you go, I would suggest going up and sitting at the bar and talking with the bartenders. Most people who are going to TV's are not familiar with the history - these bartenders have to instruct "mojito" and red wine ordering girls to maybe try stuff on the considerable drink menu. Every time I go, I would hear some girl order a "vodka redbull" and i would just have to instruct them in "The journey of the jungle drink" (...start with Mai Tai and go from there). The music in the place is a little updated too, which works - one night I heard a cool techno-chill-acoustic version of Message in a Bottle - which, when you are getting a perfect buzz on and talking with gorgeous girls and you hear your favorite song.....man, that when life is beautiful. So if you go through town, stop at TV's and go sit at the bar, it is worth it. I've relocated north now and there isn't shitte like this around. Trader Vic's is actually needed more up north too - cold winter nights, earth tone clothes, beer joints, and unfunny "ultra-lounges", etc. I hear a new Chicago Trade Vic's could be coming. I dearly hope so.

 
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