Trader Vic’s has long been on my bucket list of restaurants in London that I wanted to visit, sitting in the basement of the Hilton Park Lane, I knew it had been well chosen and was in good company with other restaurants in the hotel including Michelin-starred restaurant Galvin at Windows and Podium.
Descending the stairs in to the restaurant I found myself transported to a carpeted tiki hut with a bamboo bar and garish patterns decorating the walls. The music playing helped to create a more immersive experience that made me feel like I had been transported to a genuine Hawaiian diner. The bar has a solid cocktail menu and is worth visiting just for that alone as Trader Vic’s claims to have invented the popular Mai Tai cocktail. I couldn’t help but try one of their cocktails although I ventured away from their famed drink for the Potted Parrot – light rum, curaçao and juices guarded by a (not) real life parrot.
The menu is Polynesian with lots of nods to seafood, meats and fruit. The Tuna Poke starter consisted of fresh Ahí Tuna & avocado tossed with a signature soy chili dressing was a superb dish with mini Taro chips to scoop up the deliciousness into manageable bites. The Luau Brie Dip was warm Brie topped with pineapple chili compote & toasted country bread – a nice twist on a more typically English offering with the chili near undetectable, ideal for my sensitive palate.
The beef & reef threw me by surprise as it looked more like a curry dish slathered in sauce and chopped vegetables instead of just a steak. It was aromatic and aesthetically pleasing though with the beef and prawns offering a powerful taste. The Trader Vic’s Signature Curry is a unique blend of curry spices & vegetables simmered together and served with a flavour condiments dish so you can add in little bites of gherkins, raisins, banana and much more to suit your tastes. I found the curry a little spicy for my liking even though I was assured by the waiter that it wasn’t spicy, it would probably not even factor on a normal person’s tongue though.
As a side the Potato Lyonnaise cake seemed a little out of place but I was un-phased as big carbs fan plus when it came out I knew I had made the right decision as it was akin to dauphinoise potatoes without the creamy sauce. The layers of potato were well flavoured on their own and I enjoyed it greatly.
To finish things off we went for the Fried Banana Fritters in a Malacca sauce and a warm Apple pie – both nice dishes but nothing special. They both came served with blobs of cream which didn’t quite fit and we asked for ice cream instead that was a vast improvement.