This Trader Vic’s at the Crowne Plaza on Sheikh Zayed Road is the original and the very first Trader to launch in the Middle East. Believe it or not, that was back in 1994 – how time flies. And it doesn’t seem like they have changed anything inside since then. That said, the ‘island look’ interior still looks good. It’s even more believable now that it’s used and lived in; the newer branches, JBR in particular, look a little too Disneyland to me.
Going to a Trader Vic’s and not ordering one of their famous rum-based cocktails is like going to a steakhouse and ordering…um, salad. Remember, Trader Vic’s started as a saloon and still claims to be the home of the original Mai Tai. I wholeheartedly believe them and order as many as I can knock back while I am there. Be forewarned though, Trader cocktails are notoriously…potent.
The food at Trader is equally good. I find the Asian dishes too sweet, like PF Chang’s. Their curries are better. But their steaks can rival some of the big names in town. And that’s because they’re made in their woodfired oven giving them a unique smokie flavour. That said, I prefer to enjoy their cocktails with an assortment of (what they call) Island Titbits, basically finger food, my favourite of which are the amazing (must have) Indonesian Chicken Skewers. Also worth trying are Crispy Prawns and Tempura Calamari.
The service at Trader Vic’s is renowned for its friendliness and attentiveness, and the team at this original branch did not disappoint; we were treated like returning regulars (which I suppose we were) from the minute we walked in. There is always a live Latino band at Trader’s and as a result, a little salsa dancing is expected if not encouraged. All this happens around the popular bar area where smoking is still permitted (including cigars).
I am a big fan of the Trader Vic’s franchise. To me, it’s still well worth a detour – even this, the oldest of their three branches in Dubai.
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Xerxes physically dines at, or orders from, each and every venue he reviews. He pays in full for whatever he and his companions eat, drink, take away or occasionally throw at each other. Xerxes accepts no money, gifts, discounts or free meals in return for reviews or favouritism. What you have read was NOT influenced in any way by the venue.
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