Tommy Bahama Restaurant – Bar – Store

Another great spot we got to visit during the Restaurant Week Summer 2016. Since we don’t shop at Tommy Bahamas (or I should say that we haven’t shopped there, yet), I didn’t even know this restaurant existed… Which is one of the greatest thing about this Restaurant Week events. We get to discover new restaurant that we didn’t even know until these type of opportunity came along.

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It is a two-story shop & restaurant, located inside the French Building. The first floor is mainly the shop. and the second floor is the restaurant/bar. They have two  entrances; one to the store, which is also connected to the restaurant upstairs, or another one just for the restaurant/bar. If you don’t want to avoid the store and their sales staff, then you can walk pass the store, and go in through “Marlin Bar” door. It open to a rather beautiful Tommy Bahama bar. It might look a bit small at a glance, but it is nice and relaxing space once you walk in.  If you are looking for some drinks and not much food, you can sit here and chill out, or you can go upstairs for some real food.

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There is a nice, large spiral staircase right at the entrance, which leads to the restaurant upstairs.

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Once we made it upstairs, we were greeted by a curtain on the wall made with shells, and two good looking mannequins, fashionably dressed in Tommy Bahama clothes. That was difference and creative, I am sure they get some customers curious about the clothes they sell downstairs. And I sooo wanted to run my fingers through the curtain of shells, but I somehow managed to refrain from doing so.

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Across from the the greeting mannequins was the hostess station, and behind the mannequins were really nice, relaxing looking waiting area. From there, I could see the dining area, all open entirely. The space was massive!

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Now, let’s go back to the other entrance, from the store side. If you want to do some shopping at the same time, or if you arrived a bit too early for your reservation, you can always browse through the store before going up the stairs to the restaurant.

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They had colorful, chilled out, comfortable styled clothing and mostly beach/nautical theme. They also had pretty accessories such as necklace and purses. And, most of all, they had THE most chilled out and relaxed mannequins I have ever seen…

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At the back of the restaurant, we found a large staircase that led to the restaurant. They had just a little more merchandise at the top of the first flight of stairs, and then, there are second flight of stairs to get to the restaurant.

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Since this is the back entrance, there is no hostess station here. But we were greeted by a staff, who told us to go around to the hostess station. So we walked by a bar which was facing a large kitchen, and found the main entrance area with the mannequins by the waiting area.

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Since we got there when the restaurant just opened, we were the first customers of the day. The hostess took us to the table, and we absorbed the atmosphere of oasis. The wooden floor had that Sun-baked color, with tan or sand colored furniture, and large green plants. They also had a large ceiling fans which emphasized even more of the beach-y feeling. The chair and the bench was surprisingly comfortable, the large pillow behind the bench was super fluffy.

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The restaurant was basically a very large donut in a rectangular shape, with a bit opening in the middle. From there, you can look down and see the shop underneath. Again, pretty cool way of triggering curiosity of the dining customers for their clothing store down below, and at the same time, the shoppers can smell the food from upstairs, triggering their hunger and desire for food. Cleverly done, I say.

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Now, let’s get down to the food! They didn’t offer any type of complimentary bread, but we were full at the end, so it really didn’t matter to us. They had their regular menu, and Restaurant Week Lunch menu ($29). For appetizers, we ordered Crispy Rock Shrimp and Tuna Confit Salad. The shrimp came with sweet chili, Island slaw, and lime vinaigrette. It was very plump, great flavor of the sweet and spicy, and the lime vinaigrette was refreshing. I really enjoyed this one. The tuna salad came with Heirloom cherry tomatoes, micro greens, and lime vinaigrette. The tuna chunks were big and moist, no comparison to a tuna can. They use the real stuff here. It was meaty and fresh, better than I expected it to be, which was great.

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For main course, we ordered Korean BBQ Burger and Blackened Fish Tacos. We came here for seafood, but when I saw the Korean BBQ Burger, my curiosity got the best of me… Besides, they only and one more seafood option, salmon, which I recently had at another restaurant. I wanted something different.

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The Korean BBQ Burger came with Hoisin mayo, kimchee, bill lettuce, and fries. It was huge, with good amount of kimchee, but I believe they did something to the kimchee, for non-Asian customers… It was not spicy at all, and in fact, it lost the real flavor of kimchee, which was really disappointing. But, the burger was cooked just the way I like it, and was super juicy. Other than the lack of “Korean” flavor that I was looking forward to, it was ok. The fries were really good, lightly fried, soft and very potato-y.

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The Blackened Fish Taco came with tomato relish, chiptle aioli, Asian slaw, and lime sour cream. What it didn’t say on the menu was that it also came with fried plantain in a coconut dipping sauce. When I looked at the tacos, at first, I was thinking “where are the ‘fish’ in this fish tacos???” But after one bite, I realized it was everywhere! Chunks of white fish, soft and moist. I felt like it also needed more flavor, but it was still good tacos. The plantains were nice addition, the coconut sauce had great flavor, silky and creamy.

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For dessert, we ordered Key Lime Pie and Macadamia Almond Brownie. I was glad to see the Key Lime Pie in its natural color, without the food coloring to make it look lime green. It was velvety, rich, and yet creamy enough to melt in your mouth. It had nice lime flavor without being too strong. The crust was nice and thin, and had just the right amount of sweetness to it.

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The brownie was really decadent, super moist. It was brownie of all brownies. It was heavy and very chocolate-y. This is the dessert made for real chocolate lover.

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We also ordered cappuccino ($4) to go with our desserts. The foam was smooth and creamy, which I really enjoyed. I think some cappuccino comes with a foam that is too “foam-y” and don’t play with the coffee. This one was a good cup of cappuccino.

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They have a bathroom near the back entrance. I was glad to see they didn’t sacrifice the bathroom space to make the dining area larger, as most of NYC restaurant would do. It was spacious enough, with elegant fixtures and darker colored design.

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We had a nice lunch here, but didn’t really get that whole “seafood experience” we thought we were going to have. The portion was reasonable, the burger was huge, but lacked some flavor that would have made them memorable. The shrimp appetizer had the most flavor from the sweet chili sauce. The atmosphere was really nice, we didn’t know there was such large, relaxing space in the middle of busy 5th avenue. Our waiter (who was also a bartender) was very polite and helpful. He made sure to check on us often, it was good to know he was always around when (and if) we needed him. There was also a manager on the floor, who also kept walking around the restaurant and make sure each and every customers were well taken care of. Our dishes were picked up as soon as we finished, water was always filled, very good service! This is a nice spot to take a break from the crowds or shopping/walking around. We might go back to try a nice cocktail or two in the future at their bar…

Tommy Bahamas – The French Bldg, 551 Fifth Ave, New York, NY 10176

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