Tiki Bar at the Waldorf Reopens

One of North America’s oldest Polynesian-inspired bars and an East Vancouver institution will relight the torch when Tiki Bar at the Waldorf officially reopens its doors to the public at 1489 East Hastings Street on Saturday, December 15.

More than 60 years after it was first launched, the iconic nightspot will unveil a new menu of signature exotic cocktails and Polynesian-inspired fare as well as refurbished tropical décor that features bamboo, palm trees, a collection of Edgar Leeteg black velvet paintings, wood carvings and a half-domed twinkling twilight ceiling that brings a little piece of South Pacific paradise to the city.

Originally known as the Tahitian Cocktail Lounge when opened by former owner and US Marine Bob Mills — who became enamoured with Polynesian culture while stationed in Bora Bora following World War II — Tiki Bar at the Waldorf became the first tiki room in the Pacific Northwest when it began shaking up Mai Tais, Daiquiris and Piña Coladas in 1955. Since 2013 it has been owned by Viaggio Hospitality Group, which also operates such local destinations as Ancora Waterfont Dining and Patio, UVA Wine & Cocktail Bar and Cibo Trattoria.

Behind the pine, Bar Manager Aimée Corvo (UVA, Homer St. Cafe and Bar, Maenam, The Acorn) will offer an inspired selection of handcrafted cocktails that pay homage to old classics culled from the Caribbean, Pacific and all points south with unique libations like the Mezcal-and-Cachaca-fuelled ‘Cobra Women’, sour-inspired ‘Trés Trés Tik’ and Pisco-and-tequila-powered ‘Beach Party’. The menu of tiki tipples also features signature shooters and retro boozy bowls perfect for groups that are served aflame and pack a true tiki punch.

On the food menu, Tiki Bar features Polynesian-inspired fare including highlights such as tiki wings (teriyaki glaze, five spice), tuna poke stack (Hawaiian tuna poke, fresh avocado, wasabi aioli), tequila lime prawns (tequila marinated tiger prawns, grilled pineapple salsa), tiki burger (teriyaki glazed ground chuck, grilled pineapple, caramelized onion, tomato & teri-mayo) and Maui ribs (full rack, Maui-inspired glaze).

“We want our guests to be instantly transported to a lush piece of Polynesia when they walk through the doors or order one of our signature cocktails,” says Tiki Bar General Manager Brenton Smith, who joins the Tiki team following positions at Granville Island Brewing and Whistler’s O&R Entertainment. “This spot has long been a favourite for locals and visitors alike and we’re excited to keep channeling that tropical feel and providing an exotic escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.”

Tiki Bar at the Waldorf is open Tuesday to Saturday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. with happy hour food and drink specials on offer from 5 to 7 p.m. as well as live nightly entertainment featuring a rotating roster of local musicians and DJs. On Wednesdays, the Tiki Bar will take guests on a trip to the bygone Hollywood era of Tiki with karaoke hosted by Awesome Entertainment.

Cuchillo – Serves Up Creative Latin American Plates

Cuchillo, opened a few weeks ago in the heart of downtown east side where Railtown meets Chinatown. They have seen their share of protests so I decided to go and show my support. Cuchillo serves up creative Latin American dishes that are meant to be shared.

Cuchillo long table
Cuchillo long table

Unfortunately, they were just vandalized a few hours before, so they had to board up one of their windows. Don’t let this deter you from going though, this restaurant is worth a try.

They have this beautiful tall table parallel to the bar and in the back they have lounge area with comfy recliners. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxing, décor is similar to the Diamond in Gastown, except Cuchillo’s service is far superior, everyone was welcoming and staff was knowledgeable.  The service I received at Diamond was so bad that they were added and moved up to the top of my blacklist, the only restaurant on this list because of poor service, the others I was due to food poisoning. I will save that story for later.

They serve my favourite mojito’s in town. I like my classic drinks to stay classic. I stay away from any berry infused drinks. Cuchillo topped their mojito’s with dark rum. Yummy! My friend said it was too minty but, I I thought it was the perfect hit.

mojito topped with dark rum
mojito topped with dark rum

Antojitos and Taqueria’s – small plates and tacos

Corn bread azul with guajillo chili butter $7 was made out of blue cornmeal resulting in a grainier texture. It was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Corn bread are usually very dense, Cuchillo’s was fluffier and moist. The chili butter gave it some nice heat.

Corn bread azul with guajillo chili butter
Corn bread azul with guajillo chili butter

White bean parmasean fundido $8 with corn chips is quite filling. It is essentially a white bean dip, with pumpkin seed, cotija Monterey jack, sardo parmesan and two other Argentinean cheeses. The cheese was sharp, heavy on garlic and the bean was a perfect consistency. You’d need an appetite, this is a heavy dish

White bean parmasean fundido
White bean parmasean fundido

Mixto Traditionale, octopus, sidestripe prawn, rockfish, mussels, clams, sweet potato puree. $14. After having the last two dishes that had huge flavor, the ceviche was relatively light. The seafood was fresh but, I would have liked more seasoning.

octopus, sidestripe prawn, rockfish, mussels, clams, sweet potato puree.
octopus, sidestripe prawn, rockfish, mussels, clams, sweet potato puree.

Mole Lamb albondigas, sardo parmasean browned garlic popcorn $8. This was my favourite dish, the lamb which was served in a lamb-ball was amazing. Think the lamb mixture was mixed with beef, I don’t get the intense gaminess lamb flavor. It was juicey and topped with popcorn which gave it a nice texture. I have to admit I was sold on the popcorn first before our server even mentioned lamb.

lamb taco
lamb taco

Morita chili bbq pulled pork. This pulled pork taco was pretty run of the mill. The bbq sauce was very nice, sweet, not overly savoury and the pulled pork wasn’t drowning in the sauce. I’ve had so many pulled pork dishes that I getting sick of it. This would be my last pulled pork dish for the season.

Morita chili bbq pulled pork.
Morita chili bbq pulled pork.

My two cents on DTES Gentrification Protests…

My two cents on the protests
My two cents on the protests

As for this bullshit about it being expensive, well it is more expensive than Everything $5? Yes, the quality of the food is far superior, what do you expect to pay for quality ingredients, of course it costs more. Share plates range from $6 – 14, you get two decent sized tacos for $8 and, entrees range from $18 – $24. The prices are a little lower than what you would find in the heart of downtown and the food is crazy good. It’s not an Applebee’s, you won’t get bottomless fries and a heaping plate of pasta bigger than your head, that’s just nasty. So before you whine that it’s too expensive, go out to comparable restaurants around town to get some perspective.

DTES is not exactly a tourist attraction but, some parts of Gastown isn’t either. If I never venture out then I would not get a chance to experience gems like Pidgin and Cuchillo. Try it out yourself before you turn up your nose at these restaurants because of their location.

Cuchillo on Urbanspoon

Cuchillo, Gastown