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Beach Vibes: Tommy Bahama Restaurant, Bar and Store

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Tommy Bahama Plano | All photography by Cori Baker

Assuming you like piña coladas and gettin’ caught in the rain, you’ll also like Plano’s new Tommy Bahama restaurant, bar and store.

Part of the fun of Legacy West has been the speed with which its new inhabitants are sprouting up and taking off. Blink and you’ll miss a new restaurant, a new store or even a food hall.

Case in point: Tommy Bahama opened on a Monday. The previous Friday it had been a construction zone. But there’s no sign of stress, either in the kitchen staff preparing for the opening rush, or the retailers decked out in Hawaiian prints and board shorts. It could be the warm—but thankfully not searing—summer air filtering in from the street, courtesy of the blown-open windows at the cocktail bar. Or maybe it’s  the soothing decor: flowers, white booths, wood tables and palm fronds on the walls. Perhaps it’s the dazzling array of lightweight, beachy clothes for sale. It could be the restaurant patio and its view of the Legacy West fountain; while it isn’t as good as the ocean, it’s still lovely to watch.

Or maybe it’s the island-inspired drink menu. Fun fact: Tommy Bahama found that when they provided a restaurant and bar along with a store, sales went up 50 percent.

It’s all about the experience at Tommy Bahama. They hang loose. So yes, you can bring a cocktail into the dressing room with you—though you might have to put your drink on the floor while you try on floral prints. If you’d like to shop while awaiting appetizers, the Grapefruit Basil cocktail is an adept shopping companion with three basic ingredients: Grey Goose, basil and grapefruit. It’s also strong enough to give you whiplash.

If you’d like to keep your head, the Cucumber Smash with Hendrick’s is a little shyer. The crown jewel is St. Germain, a sublime touch that adds the idea of sweetness without overpowering the delicacy of the muddled cucumber. Of course, you also can’t go wrong with a classic Mai Tai, Baja Margarita or a Mojito, the cornerstones of tropical paradise.

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With a name like World Famous Coconut Shrimp, Tommy Bahama’s signature appetizer must be something special. Four butterfly shrimp, crusted generously in golden coconut, stand guard around a pile of island slaw with fried wontons. Each shrimp sits in an individual pool of papaya-mango chutney that easily puts bottled cocktail sauce to shame. Tropical and fruit-forward, these shrimp vanish fast so either commit yourself to hoarding the whole plate or be ready to make your move.

Macadamia-crusted Goat Cheese is similarly appealing. The warm slab of goat cheese sits pretty on a bed of finely diced mango salsa; soy waterfalls over the edges. The sesame flatbread crisps on the side are lighter than bread and won’t fill you up before the main course.

If you’re pausing for a quick mid-shopping lunch, Tommy Bahama has you covered with Blackened Fish Tacos and a side of fried plantains. Simple white fish, blackened for flash and spice, is topped with tomato relish, chipotle aioli and another heaping of island slaw. It’s a simple dish from concept to completion. It neither breaks the boundaries of the fish taco, nor disappoints. The plantains, milder than bananas, lounge in a creamy coconut dip; treat enough to let you skip dessert.

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However, you may want to opt for the Lump Blue Crab and Avocado Salad. Resting on sliced tomatoes, shredded romaine, thin slivers of red onion and feta magically hold together in a round tower with the help of cubed avocado and lime caper vinaigrette. Lump Blue Crab is stacked on top. At first bite it’s obvious this stuff isn’t from the can. It’s plucked straight from the sea, saltwater still clinging, and there’s plenty of it. The capers prove a perfect complement, highlighting the bashful sweetness of the crab.

The drinks keep coming. Bye Bye Blues, a hazy lavender elixir combines Van Gogh Açaí and homemade lemonade, a fat leaf of fresh mint drifting on the surface. Its polar opposite might be the Mango Habanero Margarita. Muddy with mango purée and orange curaçao, its secret weapon is the drowned garnish of sliced habanero that plays tame until you get to the bottom of the glass and then it’ll kick you in the senses if you aren’t careful. To heal the burn, try a Coconut Cloud, stunningly white and sprinkled with toasted coconut. It’s one of the more curious cocktails on the menu, cold and overflowing with cream of coconut.

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The House-roasted Pork Sandwich is doused in blackberry brandy barbecue sauce, island slaw and twisting crispy onions, fries on the side. The fries are basic; the sandwich isn’t. Picture a Sloppy Joe, but one that’s moved to the Caribbean, gotten a better job and a good tan. And maybe a nose job. Tommy Bahama roasts pork with Kahlua in a wrapping of banana leaves until it’s fall-apart-tender before stacking it all on a bun similar to a Hawaiian roll. It’s a beast of a sandwich and while it’s a little messy, it’s defintely not sloppy.

For a lighter indulgence, Macadamia Nut-crusted Snapper, fat stalks of asparagus and almond rice are a pleasant surprise. It’s not the most beautiful entrée, but the nut crust provides something special, as does the sea of Wasabi Soy Beurre Blanc sauce that the snapper floats on. Though I didn’t detect much wasabi, it was enjoyable nonetheless.

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Kona Coffee-crusted Ribeye collides with a thick cauliflower “steak” and actually meets its match. Accompanied by a little salad of lemon arugula, the ribeye has a bitter charred edge that suits it well. The cauliflower “steak” is a great accompaniment. Cauliflower so often subs in for rice and potatoes that it often drowns under the weight of greater, masking flavors. Garlic butter brings out the best in this versatile vegetable without trying to convince me I’m eating a potato.

As the sun sets and the live band starts jiving in the corner, dessert arrives. Tommy Bahama’s crème brûlée wins me over with its presentation alone, served in the bottom of a pineapple with a swirl of whip, strawberries and a pineapple frond stuck through the caramelized sugar surface. Tahitian vanilla bean glimmers throughout. The fruit rind is soft enough that diners can scrape tender pineapple into every delightful spoonful.

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If you’re after a rich ending, you’ll find it in the Malted Chocolate Pie. This is the chocolate-on-chocolate heavy hitter of the dessert menu despite its pretty presentation. A thin cookie crust hems in mocha mousse, turrets of chocolate whipped cream and a final dusting of English Toffee Crumbles. You’ll almost definitely eat more than you planned.

A single slice of Key Lime Pie is as wide as a boat. The filling—with a dash of lime zest for extra kick—is pure creamy goodness. Its character is as wholesome and old-fashioned as the graham cracker crust is crumbly.

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Finally, the Piña Colada Cake is deeply layered and flushed with Myers Dark Rum. It keeps the cake moist and springy around a sunshine-bright pineapple filling, white chocolate mousse and a final shower of toasted coconut. A cake fit for a wedding.

Thankfully, on Plano’s busiest, buzziest street, there is now a slice of perpetual summer where you can browse island fashions without putting down your margarita. You can shoot the breeze at the bar and laze whole days away on the patio with a drink and a slice of Piña Colada Cake.

tommybahama.com

Alexandra Cronin
Alexandra Cronin has a Bachelor's in English (with a concentration in Creative Writing) from Rhodes College in Memphis, TN. After graduation she wrote for The Resident magazine in London, before returning to home. She loves great coffee, good food and average wine.

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