At Trader Vic’s Island Time Bar and Grill, the appetizers wooed me.
By Judi Gallagher
When Ron and Margaret Cook (aka Cook’s Custom Cabinetry and designers of my own gourmet kitchen) tell me to go check out a new place, I listen. After all, they not only know specialty kitchens, Margaret Cook kept us fed with amazing homemade delights during the renovation. So when they were passionate about the new taste in town, I just had to check it out.
The original concept of Trader Vic, which I had hoped for, is a throwback to the ’60s and ’70s, serving flaming Pu Pu platters and sizzling pork with grilled pineapple and Asian duck tacos. This new “American” version focuses on wings, quesadillas, a few Cajun specialties and even a hot dog, perhaps trying to please everyone too much—from sushi rolls to spaghetti marinara. Fear not, fellow Polynesian fans, there are several delicious signature dishes such as Asian pot stickers, Orange Chili Chicken and yes, those infamous Mai Tais.
Best way to enjoy Trader Vic’s–a load of appetizers and a great Mai Tai.
Trader Vic’s is best for appetizers, drinks and gathering with friends. The Caribbean BBQ chicken wings were outstanding and very saucy—I see a take-out order coming our way for Super Bowl Sunday. Beef Cho Cho is Grandpa Vic’s well-known skewered tender beef set in a teriyaki style sauce and presented as a mini hibachi. Creative, and as close as you will get to an original Pu Pu platter.
Spider rolls and sliders on the same menu….it works.
The Luau pulled pork sandwich is a nice fusion blend of sweet and hearty with their own signature Kona BBQ sauce and a better bet than the Six Hour Short Ribs that tasted too sweet for such a hearty winter favorite. Whimsical dessert choice was the creamy banana shake with the warm chocolate cookie. Simple and comforting… and a darn good cookie.
The décor is tropical and “islandy” with a comfortable outdoor space. While I do hope to see more classic menu items on the Sarasota menu in time, Trader Vic’s newest version, Island Bar & Grill, is perfect for a casual good time, especially if you are going by Sam’s Club.
Polynesian style orange chicken…and yes, you can buy a set of salt and pepper shakers.
Foodie season is in full motion. Last weekend kicked off with the Sarasota Food and Wine Festival (stay tuned next week for my blog on the winner; trust me, it’s delightful). This weekend Forks and Corks will offer everything from wine dinners at Cosimo’s and Libby’s to the very high-end gala dinner benefiting Grapes for Humanity with Marchese PieroAntinori (thank you, Arlene Willis, for bringing the very top wine makers and producers from around the world to Sarasota each year). The Grand Tasting on the grounds of the Ringling Museum on Sunday is sure to be tasteful, with samples from many local restaurants and more wine tasting than one could possibly imagine.
And, of course, it is never too soon to plan your weekend for Florida Wine Fest and Auction April 22-25.