Lani Kai may overcome the Bermuda Triangle.
We have a term for nightspots that just never succeed: Bermuda Triangles. They’re locations of restaurants and bars that were once legendary, then, not. New place moves in, and die. Then another, and another….Doomed zone. The newish Polynesian restaurant and bar at 525 Broome Street, in downtown New York–Lani Kai,–is in “one of them.” Over 20 years of being a bar and basement lounge, the spot just seems to have a “moment,” then the doors close, and two months later, some new ephemeral joint hangs its sign. Stir, repeat. There are problems at this atmospheric, and well-designed space, with an upstairs eatery and downtown whatever they do down there. Although the reputable owner, Julie Reiner, was born in Hawaii, and knows her stuff, the drinks are too expensive ($13 and up), and the glasses are too often filled with semi-crushed ice, so that you feel like you’re slushing a New Orleans “snowball,” not a boozy elixir. We’re onto you, Lani Kai bartenders: Less liquor, more ice, save money, lose customers. No way to run a business. BUT…the Mai Tai is one of the best Room 100 has ever tasted. As are so many of the other natural-ingredient cocktails hailing from the Trader Vic days. And we’ve returned for the baby-back ribs and fried duck pot-stickers. Listen: Add a damned happy hour, people, and don’t act so “mixology”-purist, and you might make it. Oh, and there’s a drink there called…a Bermuda Triangle. Let’s hope it’s not an omen.