Call us crazy, but it looks like the Trib’s dining section has a new theme-driven MO. Last week pretty much the whole section was devoted to delis (with a brief sojurn into casino steakhouses), and this week it looks like everything is all-Tiki, all the time — this in honor of the re-opening last weekend of Trader Vic’s.
• In a little bit of a head-scratcher, Phil Vettel actually files a story on the recently-opened Vic’s, reminiscing about its time in the Palmer House (it’s now located at 1030 N State), and sort of unofficially-officially renders a verdict on the appetizers (good) and drinks (also good). We’re not so much begrudging the man his opinion — we’re more curious why it is that Vettel, who’s the real-review guy, fires off what is essentially a First Look of a place that’s been open less than a week. But it is also possible that we are the only person in the entire rapidly-expanding universe who cares.
• Vettel’s real review is of Chicagoland’s non-Trader Vic’s tiki restaurant, The Tiki Terrace (1591 Lee St., Des Plaines, 847 795 8454), where Polynesian food shares the marquee with an actual Polynesian floor show. Phil doesn’t go into too much detail — the review reads like he only visited once, which we’ll forgive since this entire Dining issue is a gimmick — but skip the pot stickers, and try to ignore the O’Hare-bound planes flying overhead.
• Monica Eng does an inspired bit of investigative reporting, ordering four different restaurants’ pu-pu platters and chronicling the contents. The entrants range from the plentiful and delicious (enough to feed three from China Dragon) to the bland and tasteless (*cough*Empire Restaurant*cough*).
• The Trader Vic’s schtick apparently qualifies Trine Tsouderos’s Hawaiian shirt-related Q&A; (okay, it’s with the proprietor of Hala Kahiki 2834 River Rd., River Grove, 708 456 3222), a tiki bar, so it’s vaguely dining-related). Trine asks if the owner of the bar’s ever been to Hawaii, and gets a vehement no: “I hate the beach. I hate the sun. I don’t like the outdoors.”