We spent (and $pent) a fabulous evening here in late March. We contacted the bar by email first (they don't have a phone) to be sure they would allow our 6yo to join us. The response was kids are welcome (thanks Canada!) but not to stay late as it can get a bit rowdy. Not deterred, we showed up at about 8:30 and stayed till closing (midnight, I think).
Our son was initially overwhelmed by the intense tiki decor, but luckily we got the perfect table in the "Castaway Room" basically a largish broom closet perfect for 2, or 2.5 in our case. Once our son fell asleep, we moved out to the main bar. It was a fabulous night, even though we spent a fortune.
DECOR: Nearly Perfect. Amazing, really. Lots of beachcomber type stuff, palm mat awnings over tables to create intimacy in the space (which is really a long, narrow strip with very high ceilings.) My only suggestion for improvement is in the staff attire. Dress code seems to be any kind of tropical/hawaiian shirt with neutral pants or skirt. Some of the servers were wearing pastel polyester tropical print shirts from the 80s, others were wearing the classic red and white aloha cotton shirts. Together it created an incongruous image, better to try to stick with one era. This is a small thing though, overall.
MUSIC: Surf band for the first half of our night. We would live with it at first and enjoy it after the first drink kicked in. Good quality surf band, but that wasn't why we came. When the band stopped, we were looking forward to some tiki-era exotica based on this note from the website "In the tradition of vintage Tiki establishments we have the music at a level where you can enjoy what it adds to the ambience without it overtaking your conversation." Instead, we got low level surf recordings. :( The have a house loop that plays continuously when the band is not on (don't worry, no repeats, it's a long loop), but it was so overwhelmingly surf we were disappointed. Wanting to travel back in time, and finding this the next best thing...we were disappointed to be stuck at a 60's beach party when we really wanted to visit the glamour and mystique of the 1950's tiki fantasy. When we asked the bartender if they ever play exotica, he didn't know what we were talking about.
SERVICE: Very good. Our hostess was very gracious in welcoming us with our son. There were no dirty looks or comments, though I doubt they have many kids visit. Our server popped around regularly but was unobtrusive. There was only a need to flag someone down when we needed to get an order in before last call.
Food: First, we shared the beef stew. The beef was tender but it was made less than delicious with over-spicing. The sauce was gritty with cinnamon, nutmeg and chili powder. We ate it, and my husband liked it more, but I thought the sauce could be subtled-up a bit. this isn't a reflection of the heat of the dish, as I like HOT, just that the overall spicing was overpowering and there wasn't much "meld" to the dish. Late in the evening we ordered the potstickers. I imagine these are factory made but with a house-made sauce. They were good quality pot-stickers for frozen, and the sauce was really very nice. Sweet and salty without too much of either. Presentation was great, on a nice ceramic platter served on strips of banana leaf. At $8 for 8 potstickers, it was expensive, but about on par with the rest of what we ordered, value-wise.
Our first drinks (Puka Puka for husband, Zombie for me) thoroughly knocked us on our butts. This was my first Zombie ever, and I found it complex and delicious. We both agreed it was more interesting than the Puka Puka, which was just fruity with nothing much else going on. On our second round we shared the flaming, glamorous Mystery Bowl, complete with burning sugar cubes in lime peel volcanoes. It was very tasty and was complex as well, like the Zombie. No idea what's in that thing. We split a single-serving drink at last call, and I have no idea what it was or if it was good, so it must have been.... ;)
Overall, a grade A way to throw a bunch of money away. A great reason to visit Vancouver in and of itself.
Prices: 3 single-person cocktails 1 mystery bowl to share, 1 entree. 2 virgin cocktails for the kiddo, one appetizer. Good live music, fabulous atmosphere, all on the local bus line so no worries about designated drivers.Total cost was just under $100 Canadian before tip. That's a lot cheaper than a time machine!
Super Day Out Tip: Visit the Bloedel Conservatory during the day and the Shameful Tiki at night for full day of tropical glory.