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Easter Sunday night, my girlfriend Sara and I head to Trader Vic's in Emeryville, reservations for 7:45. We show up a little early, sit at the bar. I get the usual starter (S.F. Mai Tai), she goes wuss on me and gets an Irish Coffee. There's nothing like watching a bartender lay down 3 coffee beans on top of the cream with such delicacy.
We get seated, and the Maitre'd, Claudette, hooks us up with a table next to the window with the most gorgeous view of the bay. Sara has the clam chowder, which is insanely good, and I have the Bongo-Bongo. I don't know how they do it, but it somehow oysters and spinach became the best thing I had ever tasted... yet.
Main course, I have the seared Ahi-Ahi, my standard, with a bit o' the Navy Grog. On the Captain's recommendation, she has the Filet of Beef that, I swear to goodness, was about the best thing I have ever had in my life. Not jokingly, but seriously. Best meat ever. Those ovens make magic, I tell you. Dessert was a Blood Orange Sorbet with raspberries. Uber-yum.
As we leave, Claudette gives Sara her business card, and I tell her thank you so much for the lovely seat, and she hooks me up with a little Trader Vic's glass. Such an awesome gesture from such an awesome place!
Just had to post about the special evening I had at a beautiful place with a beautiful lady. My best date ever... I think it won her over. Since this seems more a rant/rave than a topic, share some of your positive experiences with Polynesian/Tiki themed restaurants! That should be fun...
Love, the tikimonkey (eep-a-ula)
I have a positive story about our dinner at the Tonga Room a couple of weeks ago...
Tikitronic (the new! Husband) and I recently took a trip that included a weekend in San Francisco. It wasn't our honeymoon exactly, but the San Francisco part of the trip was kind of the psuedo-honeymoon-until-we-can-afford-to-go-on-the-real-one. We planned to go to the Tonga Room on Friday night, but we ended up deciding to go right at 6 on Saturday instead. I figured we could get away without reservations since it would be early.
Saturday night we lit out for the Tonga Room, and then spent about 20 minutes circling the area looking for parking (we could have walked from our hotel, but I misjudged where the Fairmont would be, and was under the impression it was much farther away from us than it really was.)
We arrived at 6:15, and the maitre'd was really snotty, since we
The maitre d' was extremely snotty while being simultaneously very polite, but allowed us to sit down and have dinner, with the proviso that we "vacate the table" by seven-thirty. (The maitre'd later confirmed our feeling that he was a toady by dancing sycophantically around some obviously-wealthy old people who looked perpetually-ill-tempered.) However, once we were seated, the two waiters who served us more than made up for the snotty maitre'd! The servers were two very smiley Asain gentlemen, who brought lots of water, gave us wonderful drinks with paper umbrellas, and good food (the vegetarian stuff is not nearly as overpriced as the other stuff). They made silly jokes and were very attentive. One of the waiters even offered to take our picture—for free! (The Tonga Room offers “Keepsake” photos that you must buy, but will not start taking photos until 8pm. The couple next to us asked their waiter to take a photo of them, and was told “no”—so I did it!)
We had a very nice dinner, which we both enjoyed tremendously, and got to experience the Tonga Room and sit through two “rainstorms”! It was great, especially since I was expecting a much more overpriced, unfriendly experience!
Claudette rules!!! She lives close to me and (since she knows how famous I am) wants to visit the UGH house tiki bar.--bruce
Trader Vic's Emeryville are very nice people. I was there weekend before last delivering a redwood pole to a local girl. They didn't mind us doing business, 2:30 in the afternoon. Had a couple Mai Tai's and a Navy Grog. I asked the bartender if I could buy the drink menu. He says he wouldn't care if I walked out with it. I told him I couldn't do that. He walks over to the mater dee and says something, then comes back and takes away the menu. A couple minutes later he comes back with a drink menu in fair condition and gives it to me. Very nice gesture from very nice people.
Trader Vic's and the Tonga Room both
These tiki palaces also appeal to the purient, unrestrained feelings.
As stated in the Trader Vic's menu:
"Why the Pacific stuff? It intrigues everyone. You think of beaches and moonlight and pretty girls without any clothes on. It is complete relaxation."
I have only been to the Emeryville Trader Vic's and the Tonga Room once each (so far). Both are quite nice, and, for me, my fav is Trader Vic's overall.
Customer Service and attitude at a restaurant are very important to me, and the staff at TV's was great! After visiting TV's, I kind of thought of Claudette as that favorite aunt that slips you a couple of bucks after visiting her so that you can go buy some treats or toys (drinks & mugs!).
As for the Tonga Room, it was nice, but I thought the staff should stop looking and acting like they are smelling one gigantic fart.
Just my 2 coconuts worth.
Perhaps our waiter at Trader Vics was having a bad night—overall, I felt like we got better, friendlier service from the Tonga Room staff (excluding the maitre'd) than we did at Trader Vic's, where our waiter was grumpy and exuded disapproval at us the whole time. I think he was annoyed we had the audacity to come & sit in the bar area for dinks & dessert, rather than an entire dinner. I know waitstaff tend to take umbrage at drinks-and-dessert-only, although I’ve never understood exactly why, since I would think it would be less trouble, and we still tip decently...ah, well. We’ll have to give them another chance the next time we’re near a TV.
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