Show of hands: Who's heard of Tommy Bahama? Of course you have; the line of casual apparel is featured at department stores nationwide, and it has 160 standalone boutiques across the globe. Nearly everyone recognizes the clothes — the eponymous flora shirt, likely tucked into a pair of khaki pants, and capped off with a pair of white New Balance kicks.
Another show of hands: Who knew that Tommy Bahama had a restaurant? Count us among the hands-down crowd until we saw the news that Tommy Bahama's combination store/restaurant/bar would call Plano's Legacy West home.
"A lot of people may not know, but the first four Tommy Bahama stores all had restaurants," says Rob Goldberg, executive vice president of restaurants, bars and food concepts for Tommy Bahama.
Until recently, most of the more than a dozen restaurants were attached to stores in coastal or resort destinations. But Tommy Bahama is starting to expand the concept to more urban and suburban areas such as midtown Manhattan and the Woodlands outside of Houston. The Plano spot is the company's 18th restaurant. Tommy Bahama looks for locations that have residents living and working in close proximity, Goldberg says, and Legacy West fits the bill.
"We've found that there's a real sense of pride for both our employees and our patrons in being in Plano," Goldberg says. As he gave us a tour of the restaurant and store, Goldberg explained how the company believes its retail store and restaurant fit together.
"For us, the restaurant is a great way to continue sharing the message of our brand," he says. That message is "living the island life," and looking around the space, it's easy to see Tommy Bahama's efforts to impart an upscale tropical vibe. Warm white furnishings and earthy tans and browns rule the design, and a large bar divides the indoor and outdoor dining areas.
"We wanted the indoor and outdoor and outdoor space to feel residential," Goldberg says. "Our mission is to inspire you to relax, and when you think about where you're most comfortable, it's when you're at home and able to relax."
At the bar, there's a distinct focus on crafted cocktails that use fresh fruits and juices. We tried a key lime martini ($12.50) that tasted just like the tropical dessert, complete with a glass rimmed with crushed graham crackers. The pineapple-yuzu mojito ($11.50) was a refreshing blend of Cruzan citrus rum with muddled pineapple and mint mixed with a housemade yuzu syrup and soda. Not too sweet and not too tart, it's a perfect summer patio drink.
On the food front, Tommy Bahama's menu touches a lot of bases. We found the macadamia-crusted goat cheese ($12) nearly impossible to step away from. There are several Caribbean standbys, such as ahi tacos in a wonton shell ($12.50) and coconut shrimp with a mango papaya chutney ($11.50), both solid choices. But culinary director Don Donely isn't afraid to put the Tommy Bahama stamp on classic dishes, either.
"Everybody does a ribeye," Donely says. "But not many people dust a ribeye in Kona coffee."
Another twist is found on the pork ribs ($19.50), which get a jerk seasoning dry rub before smoking and are finished to order with a blackberry brandy barbecue sauce. The sweet sauce gets tempered by heat from the jerk seasoning that comes on after a few bites, and the ribs were nearly fall-off-the-bone tender.
Tommy Bahama's food service started this week; the grand opening is Saturday, Aug. 19. We came into Tommy Bahama's with somewhat low expectations, expecting a hokey, Hawaiian-print-laden eatery that felt like a living dad joke, but were pleasantly surprised at the effort put into the food and drinks.The dining scene at Legacy West continues to fill out, and several other chains are also choosing the area to make their first forays into North Texas. And unlike tucking your tropical shirt into your khakis, that's a decision we can get on board with.
Tommy Bahama, 7501 Windrose Ave., Plano