Thursday, October 28, 2010
Julie Reiner, the owner of Clover Club and Flatiron, has brought New York City a new cocktail lounge in Soho. Lani Kai, the Polynesian-styled lounge is Reiner's attempt to bring together her two favorite places--Hawaii and Manhattan. Reiner explains, "Lani Kai pairs the tropical beauty and flavors of the Pacific with the pulse and edge of Gotham" I think she does a great job because the idea of Hawaii and tiki bar could be very gimicky and cheesey but Lani Kai doesn't go there. Lani Kai transports guest into a Polynesian atmosphere while also reminding us we're in New york. The concept focuses on cocktails as their beverage menu is much more extensive. After reading all the cocktail descriptions, I guarantee you have not heard of some of the ingredients used.
My buddy Jared is an up-and-coming mixologist with an impressive resume, so it seems right that he would be on the opening team for the new cocktail lounge. Giving him the OK, he made us an assortment of drinks throughout the night. We tried cocktails such as the Hotel California, Leilani's Fixx, La Tropicalia, and Crystal Skull to name just a few. Each drink was more intricate and delicious than the previous. It was fun to sit at the bar and watch the bartenders work their magic, recreating these well crafted cocktails.
Overshadowed by cocktails, the food at Lani Kai is awesome. We got the Pupu platter, which was our choice of four of the small plate options. Although all the options sounded fantastic, we went with the duck potstickers, crab wontons, chicken wings, and squash tempura. The platter was served on a spinning, wooden plate that spit fire from the middle. Talk about that "wow" factor that many restaurants look for. I thought this was a great way to serve the a combo platter. Everything on the platter was delicious, but my favorite had to be the Crab Wontons. The wings were a close second as they were spiced rubbed which was a good change as most restaurants stick with the tradionally buffalo wings. The duck potstickers were also good and my least favorite had to be the squash tempura because I felt like the tempura batter could have been a little more crispy. The flavor was there, but the texture was not.
I would definitely recommend this place whether you're hanging with some co-workers or on a date. Or even if you're looking to grab a drink by yourself and pick the bartenders brain. They could educate you on the various syrups/bitters than line the bar or how they use different ice cubes for different drinks. Definitely a cool spot and it definitely helps knowing the bartending as your bill could get pretty pricey as the drinks go down easy.