The first time I discovered Tommy Bahama had restaurants was in Hawaii.
I mean, I knew there Tommy Bahama stores, obviously. But restaurants?
I was in Hawaii on a press trip, we were shopping (as you do) at The Shops at Mauna Lani on the big island and a fellow travel writer suggested we have lunch at Tommy Bahama.
Really? They have food?
Yes. Yes they do.
We went upstairs into one of they most idyllic locations for a meal I have ever seen. It was open-air, like many restaurants in Hawaii, and a warm ocean breeze wafted over us as we ordered.
In all honesty, I can’t remember what I ordered aside from the cake. They have this cake. This totally amazing cake. It’s called Pina Colada Cake and it’s a vanilla cake with Myers Dark Rum, diced pineapple, white chocolate mousse and toasted coconut. I really didn’t need dessert but the description sounded so fabulous, I had to order it. It was absolutely delicious but astonishingly huge. We were leaving the next morning and I had absolutely no business getting the rest of that cake to go but I did it anyway. I carted that to-go bag right onto the plane and I inhaled that leftover cake in the middle of the flight and everyone around me was drooling with envy.
So. No Tommy Bahama restaurants for several years.
There are not a lot of locations and there just didn’t happen to be one anywhere near where I was traveling until. Until February when I went on a girlfriends getaway to both Destin and Sarasota and both locations had a Tommy Bahama restaurant. It was time to contact that PR person who had been asking me to visit a location and tell him I would finally be near one and, well actually, I would be near two and could totally visit both of them if he wanted and this is how I managed to eat two equally wonderful meals at two completely different Tommy Bahama restaurants and unreservedly recommend both.
Our first visit was to the Sarasota location on St. Armands Circle close to Lido Key, Siesta Key, Longboat Key, and Ana Maria Island. Since we were staying on Siesta Key, it was an easy drive for us and was located in a really nice little village with lots of upscale shops which we enjoyed browsing. This is the only restaurant that is not in the same location as the store but you can enter it through the back of the store or around the corner though its own private entrance. We were shown upstairs to the second story dining room which had a really nice view of the area through the large windows.
The island style furnishings were a pleasure but it was the friendly service that really made our meal memorable. Our waitress absolutely could not have been nicer and the general manager, Thai Branton, came out and spent quite a while just talking and visiting with us. We thought nothing could top the lovely experience we were having and then they brought out the food. The food. First, I had the Crab Bisque. Now, I’m pretty picky about my crab bisque. It has to be not too crabby/fishy and have just the right amount of cream and sherry. This was perfect. Hot, creamy, and wonderful.
Next, the Coconut Shrimp. The first time I had coconut shrimp was in Key West and it was perfect in every way so all coconut shrimp has to measure up to that experience. This measured up with no problem. I actually took a bite before I remembered to take the photo!
Then the main dish. This was quite a quandary as their menu makes everything look delicious but our waitress highly recommended the Parmesan Crusted Sanibel Chicken. Thanks heavens I took her advice. With herbed cheese, red pepper cream sauce (which was very mild), whipped chive potatoes and brocolini, it was the height of deliciousness.
Then, of course, even though there was absolutely no way I could eat it, I had to order the Pina Colada cake to go. It was scrumptious the next day.
A few days later, we found ourselves at the Destin location. Actually located in the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort where we were staying, it was the perfect evening out. On Grand Boulevard in the Town Center, it’s conveniently near a movie theater and lots of little shops. They have a gorgeous patio which we would have chosen if it hadn’t been chilly and rainy. Maybe next time!
Once again, we had a great experience with the staff. Our waitress was sweet, friendly, and helpful and the General Manager, Mario Mardones, came out and visited for a while. Even though everyone was wonderful and the restaurant was lovely, my dining experience this time was not as great but that was totally my fault.
I managed to order everything that was hot and spicy, even though I’m not a fan of the hot and spicy! I started out just fine with a wonderful Lump Blue Crab and Avocado Salad. I was really expecting a green salad with chunks of crab but this was even better. More of a tuna or chicken salad idea, it was full of wonderful crab perched on chunks of avocado and was wonderful.
Then I ordered the Jerk Chicken Tacos. It was my own fault that I didn’t realize that jerk chicken is not sort of barbecued chicken like I thought but actually a very, very spicy chicken. With my first fiery bite, I realized this was not the dish for me and handed it over to my spicy loving SIL. I knew they would take it back in a minute and bring me something else but she enjoyed it and I was fine. I still had my entrée to come. Tiger Shrimp Pasta. Mmmm. I love shrimp and how can you go wrong with shrimp and what looks like just macaroni and cheese. Then I took a bite. OK, this time, I can’t blame myself because the menu did not say the shrimp would be extremely, extremely hot and spicy. Again, I passed the dish to my SIL. Actually, just the shrimp because the pasta was fine. At this point, I was full of crab salad and had plenty of pasta so again I didn’t send it back even though I’m sure they would have happily served me something else.
I can’t believe I didn’t get a photo of the Triple Chocolate Cake which I got to go but I can only assume I inhaled it quickly without remembering to take one – always a problem with me as I get excited about the food and forget the photo sometimes. However, I found a photo for you in all its chocolate decadence.
I had the warmed up pasta for dinner the next day and it was delicious. So, really I only had two too spicy experiences. Just remember to check when you order if something is spicy. Otherwise, you will absolutely enjoy every minute of your culinary experiences at the Tommy Bahama restaurants. Now you know Tommy Bahama has restaurants. Check out the locations and be sure to stop by the next time you have one in your vicinity. And order that Pina Colada Cake. You will not be sorry.
Full disclosure: Our meals were provided by Tommy Bahama Restaurants but as always, we will share my honest opinions about any travel experiences we have.Pin It