There’s a plethora of restaurants here in town, and many of them feature all-too-familiar themes. You have your Italian eateries, your burger joints, pizza parlors, ubiquitous Chinese buffets, and even the taquerias and other Mexican eateries. When we came across a review for the Tropical Bistro, our interest was piqued if only because it was different. It’s rare, if ever, that we’ve been to a Tiki bar and even rarer that we’ve had a chance to try food with a Polynesian flare to it. If you add the fact that there was some hot & spicy entree items, then it was a no-brainer that the Joe & Linda braintrust would be there to give it a try.
To get a little intro about this restaurant, here’s their description from their website:
The Tropical Bistro is a Polynesian-themed tiki oasis tucked away in the Mill Run shopping center in Hilliard, Ohio. The restaurant was founded in 2006 by two former employees of the Kahiki, Theang Ngo and Soeng Thong. The Tropical Bistro successfully captures the spirit of the Kahiki while also creating their own unique vision of a tropical paradise. From the moment you step into the Bistro you are greeted with a friendly lei of aloha. With colorful décor, multi-leveled booths and separate rooms, the Bistro caters to people who long for that magical place to escape.
There are many artifacts from the historical Kahiki throughout the Bistro, from the monkey-pod tables, turtle shells and tiki masks, to the original lights that hang from the ceiling. Traditional Hawaiian music blends well with the surroundings and compliment the tropical ambiance.
Accoutrements aside, what makes the Tropical Bistro so appetizing is the delicious food. The Bistro serves up Polynesian and Pan-Asian cuisines, tapas, and an impressive menu of colorful drink libations including the Smoking Eruption. James Teitelbaum, author of the book Tiki Road Trip recently commented “The Tropical Bistro is the only place within a 350-mile radius of the ground it stands on that serves a decent tropical drink.” Many of the same drinks from the Kahiki can be found here: the Mai Tai, the Suffering Bastard and even the Mystery Drink that serves four people. The food is separated into 3 categories, “From the East”, “From the Islands” and “From the West.” The Bistro has gone one step further by keeping only the best items from the menu and adding ever revolving items to tempt your palate. The Bistro cooks with all natural ingredients and uses no MSG resulting in the freshest food possible.
Modern restaurants need to separate themselves from the pack and the Tropical Bistro delivers.
With all the hubbub about the drink menu, we started out our meal with a couple of libations from their selection of tropical-themed drinks. Joe opted for the quite strong Suffering Bastard, while Linda went for the aesthetically-pleasing Smoking Eruption. You can see our selections below:
The taste of the drinks were a nice intro to our experience there, so we then began the task of deciding what our dinner choices would be. Joe decided he would be the king o’ hot & spicy for the evening, so he opted for the Hot Pepper Chicken, described as Spicy HOT! Diced white meat chicken sautéed with jalapeno peppers and scallions. You can see the dish below:
Joe was really surprised at this. It was pretty darn spicy, but not all the heat was the result of the numerous jalapenos cooked within. The taste was a cross between deep-frying and basting, and the flavor really came through along with the heat. Lots of veggies & meat, with relatively little rice made for a combo that he would gladly try again. The heat was probably a 6/10 or so, and it built a little the more he ate. Yummy!
Linda’s entree choice was less adventurous in heat, but suffered not a bit in regard to taste. She opted for a steak dish (whose description we don’t have) that featured a pair of filets grilled with a layer of cheese in between. Again, it wasn’t spicy…but the steak was grilled to perfection and the accompanying baked potato was a nice add to the meal as well. You can see this below:
A word about some of the other menu options as well. While many of the choices don’t have a hot & spicy bent to them, a few do. They also offer a General Tso’s Chicken and a pair of Szechwan dishes that are deemed as Spicy Hot, and a couple of others have possibilities for enhancement as well. While not a bevy of hot & spicy in terms of quantity of options, the ones they do have are likely to make the trip worth it.
There are a couple of other reviews, for those who are interested: