Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tommy Bahama on St Armands Circle

One of the livelier and more eclectic restaurants in St Armands Circle is Tommy Bahama Tropical Café, the restaurant arm of the famous clothing chain. Legend has it that the founders sketched out the idea for Tommy Bahama on a cocktail napkin while sipping Pina Coladas on the beach, fashioning a philosophy of a relaxed and leisurely island lifestyle. True to their vision, Tommy's decor is rich and sophisticated — a fun 1940's faux-tropical island theme with rich warm wood furniture, cane and rattan finishes and wonderful tropical fabrics, complete with oversized wooden ceiling fans revolving gently overhead. Serving excellent island-style cuisine, Tommy's has a fabulous drinks and appetizer menu and an extensive island-inspired lunch and dinner menu for more leisurely dining. Whatever the time of day, Tommy's is always hopping, a popular spot for both residents and visitors alike.

Tommy's delicious Bahama Mama Cocktail

The cocktail list is great fun, and includes such inspired libations as a Coconut Cloud Martini, Baja Margarita, Millionaires Mai Tai and my favourite — the Bahama Mama — a fruity but potent concoction of light, dark and coconut rum, banana liqueur, pineapple and orange juices. I usually only have one.

Loki-Loki Tuna Poke

The appetizer menu is equally inspired with Cayman Lollipops (grilled smoked chicken drumettes with a mango BBQ glaze), Loki-Loki Tuna Poke (a fresh ahi tuna Napolean, with guacamole, capers, soy and sesame oil with Asian slaw) and Tommy's World Famous Coconut Shrimp.

Tommy's World Famous Coconut Shrimp

Usually when I arrive in Sarasota on the 7:00pm flight from Toronto, my parents pick me up at the airport and we head for Tommy Bahama for dinner — it's tradition. The fun and relaxing island atmosphere, the great menu and friendly attentive staff ensure that guests enjoy a delicious escape to toast the setting sun.

San Juan Shrimp & Scallops
Serves 8
Recipe courtesy of Tommy Bahama

24 16/20 Shrimp, peeled and deveined with tail on
24 Sea Scallops 
8 oz olive oil 
1 tbsp kosher salt
¾ tbsp fresh ground black pepper
2 cups Coconut Curry Sauce (see recipe below)
Island Rice (see recipe below)
4 tbsp Arugula Micro Greens
4 tbsp micro greens

Heat 2 large sauté pans over high heat and split the olive oil blend evenly between both pans. Season the shrimp and scallops with kosher salt and black pepper. Gently place the scallops into the pan and sear to a golden brown on one side, then flip the scallops and place pan into a preheated 350°F oven. In the other sauté pan, gently add the shrimp and sear until golden brown on one side, then flip the shrimp and place into the same preheated oven. Allow the shrimp and scallops to cook for 3-5 minutes then remove both from the oven. 
Place one serving of rice onto each dinner plate and pool the coconut curry sauce around the rice. Carefully place the cooked scallops at 3 points on the plate up against the rice. Next, place the cooked shrimp at 3 points on the plate up against the shrimp. Garnish each plate with a sprinkling of the micro greens and serve.

Coconut Curry Sauce:
2 tbsp unsalted butter
½ oz yellow onions, medium diced
1 tsp garlic, minced
2 tsp chipotle peppers
1 pinch cayenne pepper
½ tsp Spanish paprika
½ tbsp curry powder
⅓ cup chicken broth
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
¼ tbsp kosher salt

Add butter to a sauce pot and sauté onions and garlic for 3-5 minutes on medium heat. Add chipotle and spices and cook for 5 additional minutes over medium heat. Add chicken broth and cook for 15 minutes. Then add coconut milk and salt and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 15 more minutes. Remove from heat and place sauce in a blender with the cover over the top. Mix well until incorporated. Reserve in a clean container and reheat when you are ready to serve.

Island Rice:

¼ cup olive oil
2 cups yellow onion, small diced
1 tbsp garlic, pureed
4 cups Basmati rice
6 cups water
4 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
½ tbsp kosher salt
8 tbsp unsalted butter

Put sliced almonds on a sheet tray and place in a 375°F preheated oven. Cook for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove almonds from oven and hold until rice is finished cooking.

Heat olive oil blend in a heavy sauce pot, then sauté onions and garlic for 2 minutes. Add rice and sauté for 1 more minute stirring well to coat with oil. Add the coconut milk and water to the rice in the pan and stir well. Bring to a slight boil then remove from heat and cover pan with aluminum foil. Place in a preheated 350°F oven for approximately 50 minutes. Remove from oven, fold in almonds, salt, pepper, and butter until melted and reserve held warm until you are ready to serve.

Tommy's World Famous Coconut Shrimp
Serves 6
Recipe courtesy of Tommy Bahama

1 1/4 cups beer
1 2/3 cups flour
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup shredded coconut
1 lb peeled and deveined raw medium shrimp
Oil for deep fat frying
1 recipe Asian slaw (recipe follows)
Mango chutney or chipotle mayonnaise for dipping sauce

Put beer, 1 cup flour, eggs, sugar, salt, and pepper in large bowl and mix well to form a batter. Transfer to shallow dish. Place remaining flour in another shallow dish and the shredded coconut in a third shallow dish. Dip shrimp in the dish of flour to coat well, shaking off any excess. Then dip in batter, allowing to drain for a second, then into the shredded coconut, pressing gently so that the coconut adheres to the shrimp. Set aside. Heat oil in deep pan until hot enough to brown a small cube of bread in about 30 seconds. Cook the shrimp in small batches in hot oil for about 3 minutes or until golden brown and opaque. Remove from oil, drain paper towels and set aside and keep warm. Put a generous spoonful of Asian slaw in center of each serving plate. Arrange shrimp around the slaw and serve at once with a small ramekin of mango chutney.

Asian Slaw:
1 large red onion, peeled and cut into very thin wedges
8 oz. green cabbage, shredded
3 jicama, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tbsp fresh lime juice
Large pinch salt
Large pinch black pepper

Put onion wedges in a bowl of ice water and leave to stand for 20 minutes. Drain and tip into a medium mixing bowl. Stir in cabbage, jicama, and cilantro and mix evenly. Add olive oil and lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat the salad well. Cover and keep in a cool place until needed.

Bahama Mama Cocktail
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Tommy Bahama

2 oz Cruzan light rum

2 oz Myers dark rum
3 oz DeKuyper banana liqueur
4 oz Malibu coconut rum
12 oz pineapple juice
4 oz orange juice
4 dash grenadine syrup

Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker, and shake well. Pour into a pina-colada glass filled with crushed or cubed ice, and garnish with a fresh wedge of pineapple.

Tommy Bahama's Tropical Cafe 
300 John Ringling Blvd, Sarasota, Florida 34236
Phone: 941.388.2888