a Tommy Bahama style celebration

I was in charge of organizing dinner for my friend’s birthday a few days ago. She didn’t know where to go and after several suggestions, I said “let’s just go to Tommy Bahama’s Bar & Grille“.

I’ve always loved this place because I love Chef Jacqueline Nabong, but besides the food, the staff are simply amazing! I’ve always experienced outstanding service here. On the evening of our visit, the staff created a space complete with balloons for my friend who was just expecting dinner out with some girlfriends, but instead, was made to feel like a princess.

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We started with some cocktails. Included are Leap of Faith, a Tanteo Jalapeno Tequila with grapefruit, agave nectar and lime ($11.50) which was my drink. Be My Clementine ($12), on the special menu was dangerous because it was so easy to drink. Muddled Clementines, Grey Goose L’Orange, Cointreau, lemon and sparkling wine made this everyone’s favorite of the night.

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The restaurant is doing a special crab menu until the end of the month so I highly suggest going in and partaking in this. There will also be a few items from this menu featured on the menu during Valentine’s weekend as well.

We got some Crab Tacos ($9.50/2pc) to share. Crispy corn tortillas were filled with watercress, avocado cream, mango salsa, chipotle aioli, and topped with a heaping amount of sweet crab meat. SO GOOD!

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Everyone wanted the Crab Bisque ($9.50/$6.50) but I suggested we ask for a sampling in espresso cups because it was a rich soup and I didn’t want to fill up. This luscious bisque contained lump blue crab, sherry and cream — so decadently delicious it silenced the room. When every last drop was in our tummies, the words out of everyone’s mouth was how divine it was. Days later, they are still talking about it.

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Before our entrees arrived, Chef Jackie sent out an amuse bouche of a piece of succulent crabmeat on top of avocado and sprinkled with tobiko (flying fish eggs). A single mouthful experience, it was a teaser which made us crave for more.

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Wagyu New York Steak & Jumbo Prawns ($35) a surf and turf if you will, served with, smoked bacon Brussel sprouts. The meat was nicely seared and the prawns, succulent and flavorful.

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We couldn’t go without ordering something off the crab menu. Blue Lump Crab Cake ($29) was a hefty portion. I’m always impressed by how much food you get here. The crab cake was perfectly textured and there isn’t any fillers in there so I could really taste every morsel of crab meat. Cranberry nut and cauliflower kale slaw is refreshing and makes this a pretty low carb entree.

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I don’t normally like halibut because when overcooked, it is horrible. I should have known that Chef Nabong would prepare it perfectly — yeah, stupid me — so when I tasted the Peri Peri Dusted Halibut ($33.50), which one of the gals ordered, I regretted not ordering it myself. The Pinot Grigio beurre blanc was luxurious yet light. and the accompanying fingerling potatoes and brown sugar glazed rainbow carrots were nice hearty sides.

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I was in the mood for seafood so Thai Shrimp and Scallops ($25.50) immediately caught my eye. Perfectly seared scallops and beautiful shrimp with a good snap were so tasty in the mild coconut curry broth. I wanted more sauce to eat with the rice, but just as well because I was so stuffed I couldn’t finish the rice on my plate.

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Girls usually love desserts — not me — and my group wasn’t leaving without some sort of sweets to end the evening. The dessert tray was brought out for us to peruse……

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….. however, since we were celebrating a birthday, Pina Colada Cake ($10/$6) was in order. Vanilla cake, drizzled with Myers dark rum, layered with diced pineapple and white chocolate mousse coated with toasted coconut is light and oh so tropical.

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We also ordered the Butterscotch Pudding ($6) with chocolate ganache, scratch caramel and white chocolate mousse is a chocolate lover’s dream. I only managed a taste but it was devoured quickly by the others.

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I can’t remember the last time a birthday was celebrated SO perfectly! Our server, Em, was knowledgeable, friendly and the perfect person to guide us along towards such memorable meal. It’s only January people, there’s plenty of time for others to wow me before the year’s out, but right now, I’m not sure what can top this incredible night.

Tommy Bahama’s Bar & Grille
854 Avocado Avenue
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Tel: 949-760-8686

Tommy Bahama's Bar & Grille on Urbanspoon

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