Our family has dined at Trader Vic's for years. In the past, the seafood was fresh, the service was wonderful and the ambiance made this restaurant a place to celebrate special occasions in the east bay. Last night, however, we had the worst dining experience EVER. We were seated for 20 minutes before the waitstaff gave us menus. All of the appetizers and meals did not come out at the same time. Our cocktails were watered down, especially at $12 each ($5 for non-alcoholic watered-down juice). Our meals, though, were the worst part. All of the dishes were DRENCHED in sauce. The scallops, beef and reef, and flat iron steak were all too sweet (overly sweet teriyaki sauce or hoisin sauce). The "medium rare" flat iron steak was RAW. They failed to peel the sticker off the apple before shredding it for the slaw. The crispy duck was crispy.. and dry.. and tasteless. The chicken chow mein had dried noodles (the kind you find in salads) and the caesar salad had more of a vinaigrette dressing with grocery-store croutons to boot.
The service was also sub-par. Empty glasses, bottles, and plates sat on our table throughout the meal. There was a 30-minute lag (at least) between our appetizers and entrees. It took another 20 minutes for us to get our check. While I enjoy a "slow dinner service".. 2 1/2 hours for an awful meal was downright torturous.
For $25 to $50 per entree, our dining experience was a HUGE disappointment and definitely not worth it. I would be hard pressed to recommend this restaurant if the entrees were $10 each. I'm not sure if the owners or the chefs changed but this is certainly not the restaurant we once enjoyed.
One of favorites in the Bay Area. It's not perfect, and it is expensive, but at it's best it's terrific--classic ambience, a menu with both stuff that's been there for decades (Bongo Bongo soup) and new items, and the original Mai Tai. Go here for a little piece of history.
Great customer service.
We also booked via Open Table. We arrived tonight and were seated in a prime location with a view (and a table with fresh orchids...our hostess, Sandy, said that she wanted to get us a nice location since it was our first time there - as I had indicated on the Open Table questionnaire). The attention from the staff was top notch. It was a busy night, but all other patrons seemed to be getting proper, friendly service as well.
We were very happy with the food (I had Mango Chili Beef and my wife had Chicken Chow Mein). Drinks were great as well. After dinner, they brought over a complimentary scoop of vanilla ice cream with coconut and chocolate, and a candle...it was a nice touch.
Trader Vic's is legendary. The decor is not "dated", it is a style of its own that originated over 70 years ago and thankfully has not changed; it still has the great tiki / Polynesian charm. If you're looking for stuffy, high-brow pretentiousness and tiny portions, this is not the place. If you're looking for friendly, attentive service, good food, and a fun atmosphere, look no further. Looking at some of the other reviews it is possible that there had been service issues in the past, however online reviews also tend to bring out chronically dissatisfied people too. Based on tonight's experience there are no problems now. We will definitely come back many more times. Go to Trader Vic's!
Not Worth It.....go somewhere else!. I heard that TV was a great experience and the food was excellent, so my husband and I decided to go out for a nice dinner the eve before NYE; just to beat the crowds. =) I made reservations at Open Table and when we got there, no crowds, probably didnt need a reservation (unless you came later in the evening- we had our reservations at 7pm, crowds came 1 hr later....). The decor is cute, dated, but it has a 70's era appeal...I could see why older crowds are drawn to this place. My husband ordered lobster bisque (which he said was very good) and lamb. His lamb was a bit over cooked and semi-hot/warm....My entree was the chicken curry....smelled great, but my food was semi-WARM/cold. I guess it was cold because my husband's lamb had a disclaimer on the menu that it can take 45-60 mins to prepare....wow! I have never been anywhere where it takes almost 1 hour for lamb....c'mon, it's lamb.....seriously. Other than the food being medicore at best.....the service was lacking. It seemed all the waiters were lost, didnt know who was coming or going. There was a 'manager' who seemed to make an effort to help...still lacked prompt service. After all was said, our check was $100 for both of us, we didnt order drinks. Bewarned....when you tip, the bill states there's a "Waiter" (your waiter) and the "Captain" (the 'manager")....honestly, I have to tip 2 seperate people for the service I got?! I will NOT be returning to TV's nor do I recommend going, unless you're going for drink an over-priced medicore appitizers. There's better options in Emeryville and Trader Vic's is NOT one of them. Happy Eating!
Good Experience. My wife and I and another couple happened on this restaurant early on a Sunday evening. We had heard the name, but didn't know what to expect. We had no reservation, but were seated right away. My wife had a curry dish which had a palette of toppings to add to the sauce (raisins, etc). I had duck which has very well prepared. My mai tai may have been the original, but I've had others I prefer. All the food was good. A nice place overlooking the water.
NOT RECOMMENDED. The view was great (sunset on ocean/yachts)-- everything else was terrible. The drinks were overpriced and tasted like watery powder (extremely generic), the food was absolutely terrible. I didn't even want to touch my own clam starter, I just had some of my date's rather average calamari. The food was unpalatable, dessert was above average, servers were average. The cost came up to $100 for two, for nearly inedible food. Utter disappointment.
Overpriced, mediocre food. While the kitch and the atmosphere make Trader Vic's at least sort of fun, my experience was quite bad, especially for the price. We had a party of 8 people, and everyone agreed the food just wasn't that good--also, one dish was basically inedible. Everything was overpriced ($25-$40 entrees), the food was bad, and the service was very slow and very pushy--the waiter was like a used car salesman, trying to get us to order the most expensive things on the menu. It was obvious that since our tip was going to be automatically included in the bill, the waiter didn't care. We waited 25 mintues for a drink order, which we reminded the guy about 3 times! Overall, the food was mediocre at best, the prices sky high, and the service pretty lousy. I would not recommend this place--there are so many better restaurants in the East Bay!
A must-visit, but no South Seas paradise.
Trader Vic's is the top-of-line when it comes to "Tiki" (Eurasian fusion, with casual tropical island atmosphere) dining, and this is the flagship restaurant in the chain.
Yet that atmosphere is surprisingly cursory, the decor staid, and the management lent a chilly air rather than island hospitality.
Though there were few customers upon arriving, we weren't seated by a window, despite charming views of the Emeryville Marina. We immediately requested one, and after nervous hesitation were granted it. (Later, the manager appeared to speak angrily with the hostess while both glanced at us uneasily.)
The "captain" (yes, that's what she was called on the bill, distinguishing her gratuity from that of the jolly "waiters") took our order. The food quality varied, from exquisite medallions of veal and desserts to mediocre lobster and Boston clam chowder. The chicken chow mein, at thrice the standard price, elevated this mundanity to the sublime.
All things tiki...and food.
There are tikis all over the place, yet I went expecting a more "kitschy" experience. Instead, of goatees and Aloha shirts, there were a lot of older men in blue blazers & khaki pants.
Yeah, but what about the food and drinks?
The bar is comfortable. The drinks are your usual fruity/tropical kind. The reataurant overlooks the marina, so the views are nice.
As for food: I had the Hawaiian Pork Chops, which were tender, juicy, and covered in an amazing sauce.
That said, the accompanying mashed potatoes had the familiar flavor of instant potato flakes. My salad was uninspired, despite it having ingredients that I love (artichoke hearts, mescalin greens); it didn't help that the dressing was flavorless.
Dessert was an upside: I can't remember what it was called, but it tasted like frozen chocolate mousse, and was very nice.
Terrible Service. I went to Trader Vics with my family on mother's day. The place was very crowded and stuffy. The service was by far the worst I have ever had. The drinks took about an hour to come. We had to wait about 2 to 3 hours just to get our appetizers. We repeatedly talked to the waiters, but the service did not improve. After 4 hours we received our food after talking to the manager. The manager was awful. We didn't get anything free, it was terrible. We gave the manager our number but he never called. Calling several times didn't help either. I haven't been there since, and I don't plan on going.
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