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Restaurant Review: Tai Tiki Polynesian Bar Grill & Sushi

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott Restaurant Review: Tai Tiki Polynesian Bar Grill & SushiPhotos by Walker Evans.
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Lots of people have lots of fond memories of The Kahiki. Per the stories, it was an immersive Polynesian experience with waterfalls and birds and indoor thunderstorms.

And while the days of the kitschy light shows are far behind, the menu theme has returned at Thai Tiki in the Short North.

Not just the edible menu, the cocktails too — and drinks are magical things at Tiki bars. The server highlighted the drinkable throwback options, mentioning that they were inspired by the original Kahiki bar menu. That’s important, because it means you can slurp slushies from cups that have eyes, noses and mouths.

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Take, for example, the Zombie ($8). The menu describes it as “rum, rum and more rum”, and that about nails it: rum slushie. It’s served, appropriately, in what looks like a deranged skull head. If that’s not foreboding enough to deter you, all its lethal firepower is evident in the first skinny straw slurp. The only thing that’s not rummy is the fresh pineapple and dark cherry skewered across the top.

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Or, for those who like kinetic drinks, there’s the Smoking Eruption ($10). Thanks to a little glass canister of dry ice perched at its core, it arrives with a billowing trail of smoke. The pink slushie is a citrusy mix of rum and brandy. Although it packs a wallop, it’s also addictive-ly sweet and less aggressive tasting than the Zombie.

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And, the classic Head Hunter ($8) is another option for the sweet and fruity crew. Mixed with rum, it’s served in a cup that’s shaped like a Tiki Head.

You’ll want a little food to wash(?) down those cocktails. The menu is a mix of Polynesian throwbacks and some easy, familiar items too. Case in point: at lunch you can score a Grilled Cheese Sandwich ($10). Its grilled, swirly bread is melded together with a sophisticated mix of cheddar, swiss and provolone that comes in lavish layers. There’s also fat, crunchy fries.

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Or Kobe Sliders ($12). They may be small in diameter (a slider characteristic), but they are uncommonly tall with a thick, good quality burger, swiss, arugula and tomato.

But the favorite edible so far is one that celebrates the Polynesian theme: General Tai’s Chicken ($14 – pictured at the very top). It’s beautiful, served in a pineapple boat, and it features fresh-fried chunks of chicken with an impossibly thin, crispy tempura coating. The chicken mixes it up in a garlic sauce with peppers, onions and fresh pineapple.

The more munchie crew can order from an extensive sushi menu that features classic options as well as house rolls with funky mixes of ingredients such as tempura, avocado and cream cheese.

Tai Tiki’s decor is sleek and stylish, as opposed to kitschy — its sister restaurant is Tai’s Asian Bistro up on Lane Avenue. The new joint fits in with the sophisticated Short North these days. And the service has been warm and helpful. You can check it out at 1014 N. High Street. It’s open Sundays through Thursdays from 11am until 10pm. On Fridays and Saturdays, it’s open from 11am until 11:30pm.

For more information, visit www.taitiki.com.

Photos by Walker Evans. Photos are taken at a different time than review, so discrepancies between photos and review may occur.

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