Trader Vic's Review: L.A. LIVE's Tiki-Themed Eatery
“To eat is a necessity, to eat intelligently is an art.” La Rochefoucauld.
Decked out from top to bottom to the theme and exuding an attempt at a luau essence from the moment you enter, overall the atmosphere of the restaurant is relaxed and pleasant, aside from a few issues with seating.
While the furniture does stick to the theme that doesn’t exactly make it comfortable. The bottom line is that you have a choice of sitting at an unusual table or an unusual chair. What I mean is that half the tables in the restaurant are in rigid leaf shapes and, while the chairs that go with these tables are comfy, they are too low to the ground so your food is practically at eye level. The other seating options have normal tables, but awkwardly shaped chairs.
The food at Trader Vic’s does not fall entirely into any category that would allow me to rate the restaurant as superb, average or bad. The fact is that different dishes were delicious while others were disappointing.The appetizer portion of the menu was the least exhilarating part of the meal. Among the many appetizers we tried, (including the calamari, duck tacos and cosmo tidbits), none were impressive. They were all just ok, and personally I prefer not wasting calories on food that is just okay.
Another problem we had with the appetizers was that they were no longer hot. The servers brought us our appetizers and main courses at the same time, which means two things. Number one, we had to hurry and eat all of our food at once. And number two, the appetizers were sitting out for a while and cooling to room temperature before they were brought to us. However, when we brought this to the server’s attention she was every apologetic and accommodating. From then on the food began to redeem itself.
The first main course we tried was the “Big Kahuna” Chicken Sandwich. It was pretty decent, but the sweet potato fries that it came with were sublime. Crispy, hot and tasty, these fries were super addicting and one of our favorite parts of the meal.
Trader Vic’s definitely saved the best for last though. The two desserts we tried were the Banana Fritters and the Polynesian Snowball.
The Banana Fritters were quite good. They were served with fresh berries, a scoop of ice cream, and enough whipped cream that there was no need to ask for extra (an atypical situation for desserts in restaurants, by the way). As for the fritters themselves, they were great. They were crispy and fried perfectly. Fritter desserts are often tricky because they can easily be too hard or too doughy, but Trader Vic’s fritters were just right.
Unlike most sundae-type desserts, the toppings on this one did not overpower or drown the ice cream; they were well balanced. After a meal that was very heavy, this dessert was perfect because it was not too complicated, thick or rich. It was just the right amount of sweetness.
While Trader Vic’s food was not overall a home run, the service, atmosphere, and experience were nice and there were some pretty tasty dishes. So while I wouldn’t call it a “stretchy pants” kind of place, it is definitely worth giving a try.
Contact staff writer Geanna Crisanta here.