Tommy Bahama Opens in Laguna Beach
Tommy Bahama will open its 13th restaurant on Friday. I had a chance to preview the new restaurant and retail store last weekend. We started lunch by making our own cocktails. I opted to try my hand at a lemondrop. I think they should offer making your own cocktails as a brunch option. It was so much fun!
I’ve been to the Tommy Bahama in Palm Desert before and this space in Laguna Beach is quite different. Perhaps because it was by the beach, which in fact you had views of the ocean from across the street, but it felt much more casual. I recall the Palm Desert one being a bit more upscale but that’s possibly because I had dinner there.
The retail store is separated from the restaurant by a short flight of stairs. It was explained the architect measured the stairs on the nearby boardwalk. When you walked on them, there was that distinctive thumping I have heard only when walking such stairs. What a triumph to be able to recreate that sound!
The space is quite beautiful with handmade furniture. The waiting area looks like someone’s living room, it’s so inviting. I really enjoyed seeing the photographs for Laguna Beach’s yesteryear. Framed old-fashioned swimming costumes line the walls. These swim suits were rented out decades ago to beach goers and they were purchased from a private collector back East. How marvelous they made it home to LB.
Tommy Bahama is committed to serving seafood and meat that’s locally sourced and humanely raised whenever possible. Instead of selling bottled water, they serve Natura house-filtered sparkling and still waters. This helps reduce the waste from plastic and glass bottles.
We started off with the Shrimp Avalon which was very much like a ceviche with Dungeness crab and chilled tiger shrimp. There were some nice fresh veggies as well. We enjoyed the Avalon with house-made chips.
The Ahi Tuna tacos were served with wonton shells instead of traditional tortillas or taco shells. Personally, I believe crunchy tacos have a time and place and being by the beach is that time and place.
It’s not easy to get me out of L.A. to Orange County. This BLT may be a good reason. Unlike most foodies, I don’t necessary go gaga over bacon. But this is Nueske’s applewood bacon which is topnotch. Combined with the lemon basil aioli and fresh shrimp, this simple sandwich on La Brea Bakery sourdough is transformed. There’s also avocado in this sandwich which gives it another edge. The other two courses also has avocado which was fine by this California girl. The fries were perfect.
It seems to me that artic char is trying to replace salmon as the fish to order. It even looks a bit like salmon. But unlike salmon, I like it when it’s cooked. When I looked through the Monterey Seafood Watch guide, salmon seemed problematic. The best fish would be wild fish but only if caught from Alaska or Washington. With artic char, I was surprised to learn that most artic char is farmed in the US and considered very safe. Artic char for me then!
Tommy Bahama served it with a sweet pea risotto and an apple fennel slaw. The risotto may change with the seasons. I liked the bit of cumin in the apple fennel slaw, very different.
Next we had mini versions of the three desserts. I would love to see this trio of desserts offered as a sampler platter.
I really enjoyed the banana cream pie. It was more like pudding.
I can’t remember the last time I had an ice cream float. Maybe when I was 10? In any case, I loved this one with Abita root beer.
The chocolate cake had three different kinds of chocolate and had four layers. It is definitely meant to be shared.
400 South Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Note on parking– there’s a metered lot behind the building. Don’t try to park across the street in what looks like unmetered, unpainted curb. Apparently it’s a tow-away zone. The only signage is after all that unpainted curb in front of an alley with a tiny bit of red paint. Yes, I’m almost got towed.