LIFESTYLE-BRANDED DINING

BY DOUGLAS KING | PHOTOGRAPHY BY HOLGER OBENAUS

The mango BBQ chicken lollipop appetizer comes encrusted with macadamia nuts and with a jerk remoulade.

There are certain restaurants you visit to enjoy an exemplary meal. There are others that transport you to exotic destinations as they tantalize your taste buds with foreign flavors. Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar is just such a restaurant and experience. Possibly best known as a tropical island lifestyle brand (see our Curated article), Tommy Bahama is also a fun and lively dining experience. The latest location is nestled in Legacy West, a luxury shopping and dining hub of north Plano. Offering patio and bar seating and a dining room, as well as a private room for events and parties, Tommy Bahama Plano seats 200 in a comfortable and tasteful tropical-themed environment. This is no tacky tiki hut, this is an aesthetically pleasing interior with a laid-back island vibe.

The blackend fish tacos are served with tomato relish, chipotle aioli, island slaw and lime sour cream.

Anyone who has spent time in the tropics knows that the mai tai is the go-to cocktail, and Tommy Bahama has crafted one that puts the others to shame. Mixed with Flor de Caña 4-yearold rum, orgeat, orange curacao, lemon, lime and pineapple juice with a dark rum float, one sip of this cocktail and the mood is set for an island adventure.

It is a moral imperative that you order the coconut-crusted crab cakes when you visit. The generously portioned lump blue crab cakes are served with a Thai chili sauce. After an order, or three, or Tommy Bahama’s famous coconut shrimp, plated with a papaya-mango chutney, it is time to consider your entrée.

Every Tommy Bahama menu has brand-wide offerings, but individual restaurants also serve locally popular dishes, which for Texas means red fish. The featured “Fresh Sheet” menu changes daily for lunch and dinner and is created by executive chef Jay Potterfield, who has been with the company 15 years. There is a gluten-sensitive and vegetarian portion of the menu as well.

The cilantro- and ginger-crusted mahimahi is plated on top of a crispy fruikake rice cake covered in sautéed squash and carrots with chile oil and in a shrimp broth.

The desserts are impeccable, including the pineapple crème brûlée, which comes in a hollowed out caramelized pineapple.

Texas meat lovers should not hesitate to explore incredible offerings such as the smokehouse bacon burger, Cuban sandwich or the Kona coffee-crusted ribeye, plated with a house specialty: the cauliflower steak, plus lemon arugula and garlic butter.

To truly experience the Tommy Bahama lifestyle, order the cilantro- and ginger-crusted mahimahi, a thick, flaky white fish. The way it is prepared, with a crispy furikake rice cake, sautéed squash and carrots, and chile oil, is amazing. The ultimate kicker, which places this dish in superstar status, is the addition of a shrimp broth, providing a splash of salt flavoring. This entrée is well balanced with complementary flavors, making it a signature dish.

Another equally popular entrée is the blackened fish tacos, served with tomato relish, chipotle aioli, island slaw and lime sour cream. Often, when ordering fish tacos, what you receive is a tortilla filled with cabbage and a sliver of fish. That is not the case here. A thick filet of mahimahi resides on top of the island slaw, and the sauces are so flavorful that changing any ingredient threatens to ruin the mastery of the meal. A special note must be made about the tortilla itself. This taco is made with a corn and flour mix, providing a surprising crunch and further enhancing the delicious dish.

The macadamia-crusted goat cheese appetizer sits on a bed of mango salsa and sweet soy, accompanied by flatbread.

There is no cocktail that says tropics better than a mai tai and Tommy Bahama serves one of the finest.

The dessert menu could be considered a second entrée menu; the selections are so amazing and the serving sizes so large. Half orders are available upon request.

The best presentation award goes to the pineapple crème brûlée. A cored pineapple is caramelized and served as the edible bowl for the Tahitian vanilla bean custard. To say this dish was created as an Instagram- able moment might not be farfetched, except that it has been on the menu longer than Instagram has existed.

The piña colada cake is a signature dessert that features vanilla cake, Myers’s dark rum, diced pineapple, white chocolate mousse and toasted coconut. For chocolate lovers, you can get your fix with the malted chocolate pie, made with a chocolate cookie crust, mocha mousse and an English toffee crumble. Finally, what would a tropical-themed restaurant be without a key lime pie?

A visit to Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar is a vacation for the mind and palate. While dining in Texas you can dream of sun-kissed beaches and swaying palms while your taste buds enjoy the sensation of island flavors. Sip your mai tai and envision yourself with toes buried in the white sand. Bite into a crab cake and picture an oceanside cookout. Taste the mahimahi while fantasizing about sunsets over the ocean. Savor the key lime pie while you dream of moonlit walks along the surf. Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar transports you there with every bite.