Trader Vic’s – London Hilton on Park Lane

IMG_3769

After checking out the Moai and other antiquities at the British Museum, we had planned to meet up with a friend at Trader Vic’s. This was the first overseas location of the chain, opening in 1963 in the London Hilton on Park Lane. (Trader Vic’s once had a franchise partnership with Hilton hotels, but most of those restaurants have closed.)

IMG_3792

The entrance itself is kind of magical, with a giant chandelier and beautiful tapa cloth wrapping around the staircase that takes you down to the restaurant. Also at the top is a display case with some of the standard Trader Vic’s souvenirs, but at prices that will make you cringe if your currency is on the weaker side (£20 for the coconut mug!).

IMG_3846

There was a close call this summer when the hotel suffered a fire in the basement kitchens, but luckily Trader Vic’s needed only minor repairs. They were only serving a limited menu while we were there, and had closed off the lounge area on the right. (The restaurant is scheduled to fully re-open on November 1.)

IMG_3799

We were seated up on the left in the dining room. The decor is topnotch, with carved tiki poles, suspended outriggers, fish floats, large shells and bamboo, but I particularly liked the nautical touches of the lanterns, model ships and small yacht club flags along the wall.

IMG_3896

Between these spaces is the bar, where an amplified acoustic guitar player was performing. Alas, the music was too loud and the wrong style (Latin) and detracted from the ambience. Earlier in the night it was filled with businessmen sipping scorpion bowls. (But sadly no werewolves drinking Pina Coladas…)

IMG_3869

In recent years Trader Vic’s has censored their original menus by making the ladies much more modest, so it was amusing to find this saucy sign.

IMG_3874

I always like to order the signature drink of that particular Trader Vic’s, and here it’s the London Sour (£9), which Trader Vic himself made for the restaurant’s debut. It’s composed of Scotch whisky with orgeat, orange and lemon juice. (At other Trader Vic’s, it’s made with Bourbon and dubbed the Eastern Sour.) I don’t drink much Scotch so I was a bit hesitant about this one, but I loved it. The balance between sweet and sour was just perfect.

IMG_3886

Now if only I had quite while I was ahead. Instead I was intrigued by the section of the cocktail menu that went beyond the Trader Vic’s classics and ordered the Wanilla (£13.50), made with St. Aubin vanilla rum, pineapple, “a touch of Mandarin” and Prosecco. I had hoped for something fruity and bubbly, but there was an artificial taste to this that was a total turnoff.

IMG_3888

Minor missteps aside, it was such a thrill to visit one of the original Trader Vic’s. It was also great chatting with one of the friendly hosts about Trader Vic’s—he seemed impressed by my enthusiasm. :)

IMG_3849

Trader Vic’s is located in the Mayfair district just east of Hyde Park and is quite convenient to slake a thirst after sightseeing. Plus, Mahiki is less than a kilometer away so you could turn the night into a tiki bar mini-crawl. (Definitely hit up the Mahiki first, though, for reasons that will be explained later.)

Trader Vic’s
London Hilton on Park Lane
22 Park Lane
London, W1K 1PN, United Kingdom
020-7208-4113

Trader Vic's on Urbanspoon

About these ads

5 responses

  1. cool! Thanks for posting some pics to go with the recap of your Trader Vic’s London adventure.

    Forget Big Ben- Whenever I finally get to London, TV’s and the Mahiki are on my “Must-see” list.

  2. The live music is great!!! I’m a regular client there and I love their music. They have all sort of artists performing every night. Shame you don’t like latin music, you just need a couple of tequilas!!!

  3. I’ve been to almost all the Traver Vics and the London is my favourite!!! the drinks…the live music….just great!!! Love the latin music… Mai Tai + latin music = great night !! ;)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s