at the Beverly Hilton Hotel
9876 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Trader Vic's at the Beverly Hilton
I have some very strong opinions about the state of real estate here in La La Land, but I will keep them to myself because Mom always told me that if I have nothing nice to say, I should bottle it up inside, let it fester in and onto itself for months until it finally explodes in ugly, vicious rage somewhere on a blog post that is totally unrelated to the orginal topic. OMG, like now!
I silently screamed about the one bedroom condos in the building next to mine that are $800-somethingthousand about a month ago, but now I get to erupt into hateful hellfire like the angry tigress I am. I swear I will write about food somewhere in this post and yes, in some strange convoluted way, it will be traceable back to real estate in LA.
The last, and I mean lastlastlast, thing this city needs is another luxury condo development that will take months numbering into the double digits just to prepare a hole in the ground that’s big enough to swallow the whole thing up if ever there were an earthquake. Then, it will take another howmany months to actually build the monstrosity of concrete and glass and imported marble, causing all kinds of sawhorsed-off construction traffic nightmares in an area that is already congested enough as it is. Wait, which area?
I don’t know why I rant, because the plans are already in motion. The only thing I can hopefully look forward to is a flooding of the market with “luxury” housing that will finally pop this ridiculously inflated bubble and drive prices into the ground. Then perhaps I might actually be able to afford a teeny tiny corner of a cardboard box of my own. In about eight years, instead of eighteen.
And it sure will be nice to have more housing for all those homeless people in Beverly Hills! Thank God, now I’ll finally be able to walk down the street without hving to trip over someone sleeping with yesterday’s Variety as a comforter.
Anyway, we already know that the place is doomed. Thus, I am writing about Trader Vic’s in Beverly Hills before Mr. Armani Suit Developer Guy crushes it as part of this tidal wave of totally unnecessary luxuy condo development on the Westside.
I ended up there for drinks a little bit of a late night bite after an event at the Beverly Hilton – no, it wasn’t the Golden Globes, but it was just as awesome and prestigious and cool, unless of course, the economic future of the planet isn’t considered glamorous.
We stepped into the bar and sat down at the only open table amongst an odd mix of “regulars” for the past 40 years, guests at the Beverly Hilton, economics geeks like us who had drifted over from the conference, and tourists and LA-nOObs who must have mistakenly read in Frommer’s that Trader Vic’s is a good place to spot celebrities.
The drink menu is, of course, heavy on the tropical cocktails. Having had one too many sips of my Mom’s strawberry daiquiris and pina coladas at Red Lobster when I was little, I am not too fond of rum-based, fruity blended, Island-inspired drinks. Because it was purportedly invented by Trader Vic himself, the Mai Tai takes center stage, but those of us who know our stuff will go for the Scorpion, which is probably the strongest liver poison this side of the Pacific. Made by pouring 27 different alcohols into a bathtub with a little orange juice for color, the Scoprion could dissolve the wad of tangled hair and dead skin in your pipes faster than Drano. There were a few more days of the conference left. I went with the Mai Tai.
The food menu at Trader Vic’s is exactly what you would expect from a Polynesian-themed restaurant. It’s heavy on the Island ingredients like seafood and fruit that are inspired by pan-Asian flavors. In the bar, the offering is Pupu style – appetizers like Crab Rangoon, Coconut Prawns, Satay, and Fried Calamari. A small selection of sushi updates the menu to oh, about 1996.
We ordered the Spicy Tuna Roll. It tasted like just about every other Spicy Tuna Roll I’ve ever had, but it was served on a cute little Trader Vic’s dinnerware. The dinnerware was about as exciting as the food got.
You see, as much as Trader Vic’s is an LA landmark, it doesn’t really deserve to stick around on its food merits. It doesn’t really have any other than the fact that they have a section on the menu called “Continental,” which I can’t help but love because I miss “Continental cuisine.” Otherwise, Trader Vic’s is too over the top cheesy with its faux-lynesian décor and over-priced for under-decent tasting food. Yes, I have tried the food in the dining room before.
The only things Trader Vic’s has going for it are its history with The Glitterati and its killer drinks. It will be sad, of course, when the place is demolished, as farewells are alw
ays emotional, but the black and white photos of the Rat Pack et al will be archived, and you can make a Scorpion in your bathtub. As for the food? If you really think you'll miss it, you can go to the 40 other locations.
** a year ago today, i didn't have to fly to cuba (versailles)