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Bob's Blog: Blown Away in San Fransico!


Posted by : Food Network Canada, Thu, May 10 2012

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 One of the coolest things about The Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar is that it means such different things to so many people. Some take it at face value while others love it for the kitsch appeal. And those who have been around for a while see it as a nostalgic romp back to their salad days. For me it is a little bit of all these things. 


I first went to the Tonga Room 20 years ago after a wedding in San Francisco. Back then, it was pretty run down, but the vibe was basically the same (though I am pleased to report that the food these days is infinitely better). I remember marveling at the surroundings when the band climbed onto the pontoon at the far end of the lagoon. Suddenly the heavens opened up and it started raining—which is pretty surprising and impressive the first time you see it happen. Then, as if a tropical storm inside an old tiki bar isn’t enough, the pontoon floated out to the middle of the lagoon as the band kicked into a high-energy rendition of the old B.J. Thomas classic “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head”. I laughed so hard that I cried—right into my pina colada. 

This time around it was even more fun because they rolled out the red carpet—and a suckling pig—for us. And the group of regulars who agreed to be part of the shoot really embodied the spirit of the room (the fact that we were picking up their drink tab might have had something to do with the extra hoots and hollers). They danced, limboed, and ukuleleed the night away like there was no tomorrow. In fact it was their contagious enthusiasm, with a little added encouragement from my Mai Thai that enticed me to jump into the lagoon at the end of the night. 

Unlike the snobbish attitude and red velvet ropes that accompany many chic hotel bars these days, the folks at the Fairmont Hotel recognize and embrace the fact that the Tonga Room is a much-loved institution of the people. They go out of their way to make sure that every single person who walks into the room leaves with a memorable experience. If you have a chance to make the pilgrimage, be sure to get there at happy hour. You can eat like Hawaiian royalty for the price of a cocktail. And just one note of warning: if you are tempted to take the same leap that I did, be forewarned, the water is COOOOOOLD!


Posted: by Food Network Canada

Get to know:Galen Drinnan

Hi, my name is Galen and I'm currently interning with the Food Network and Shaw Media! Though I wouldn't call myself a foodie, I certainly enjoy eating the stuff - so this is an opportunity to learn more about cooking, baking, and food. Any questions, please let me know! And for goodness' sake, put the kettle on!

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