We like to try new restaurants and although this was not new, it is not a place we would think of ever going (or ever again for that matter). We had a deal on that looked great, 3 courses and a cocktail for £40.
We booked a date and quickly forgot about it until the week before. It suddenly occurred to us that we did know where Trader Vic’s was and it was that shabby rather 70’s wooden restaurant in the Hilton underneath the glamorous and unforgettable Galvin at Windows which we previously reviewed.
We made it to the hotel and descended the pine wood stairs to the underground restaurant. In the restaurant we handed in our coats to the pine wood clock room (you will see this pine wood trend is a little OTT and it really was in life) and we shown to our table. The restaurant is huge and dark with sections separated by pine wood bars and reeds. It really was a large restaurant but was very quiet although to be fair we ate pretty early.
We were seated by a lady in a blue flowery tropical dress and we given the menu. We were quickly asked to ordered a cocktail and we made an on the moment decision. We also ordered a bottle of red malbec to go with our food after. The cocktail bar was in the centre of the restaurant and was made of…wait for it… pine wood and looked very 60/70’s. The cocktails came out and were good -fruity, sour and strong – just as we asked.
The menu was from a set menu and that was to be expected from this pretty good deal. We ordered the prawn skewers and the asparagus tempura. The tempura was greasy and served with a bland pink dip (I have no idea what this was and didn’t dare ask). The prawns were rubbery and I wished I had ordered the tempura. Make of that what you will…
We finished our starters and were swiftly cleared of our empty dishes. At this point a few more couples entered the restraint. There was a reed door separate or just by me which if moved aside looked over a ‘private dining area’ that was anything but private (to be honest drew attention to it!). Couples who were seated later than us were served main courses and we waited and waited…
I got irritated after 30 minutes without our main after finishing our starts and asked the manager if it was on its way as others were served ahead of us. In a blink of an eye our mains were served (which showed that dished were clearly pre prepared). We both ordered the sea bass with a Turkish couscous. The presentation left much to the imagination but was tasty (I did have to pick out their raisins as that is my pet hate) and the sea bass was well cooked.
We had a crème brulee and sorbet for desert that came out a lot quicker than the main but that is not saying much; efficiency is clearly not their strong point! The crème brulee had a good crack but lacked flavour and sorbet was good; good but not great.
We left disappointed but the price was good and we went to somewhere we would never ever of thought of. My mother summed it up saying ‘oh I read Paul O’Grady’s autobiography and he used to eat there in the 70’s’. Pine wood included I am sure. As a result we give Trader Vic’s :
Food Atmosphere Service