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Wailea Eats: Tommy Bahama’s Tropical Cafe

Moving along to the east side of Maui, on this day we we chose to have dinner at Tommy Bahama’s Tropical Cafe in the Shops at Wailea, an upscale shopping mall located next door to the Grand Walea Resort and Spa.

Unlike most other Tommy Bahama’s boutique shops around the nation which are only retail, the Tommy Bahama location in the Shops at Wailea includes what they call a Tropical Cafe, a full service restaurant and bar located adjacent to their retail shop on the second level of the Shops at Wailea on the makai (ocean-side) end. Go up the courtyard escalator, hang a left and you’re there. Here’s a look inside…

It was a clear, calm night, so we requested a table outside on the lanai…

While it doesn’t mention it on their website, I’m told Tommy Bahama’s Tropical Cafe food concept is what’s coined as “Floribbean” – obvious as it sounds, a fusion of Florida and Carribbean cuisine.

Lucky us, we were on Maui during Restaurant Week Wailea, taking place from May 24th to the 30th, where Tommy Bahama was offering a special Prix Fixe menu for the occasion. Here’s a look at the selections on that limited time only offer…

Their regular dinner menu can be seen at their website here. With so much to choose on the regular menu alone making deciding what to get a bit of a challenge, the selections on the Prix Fixe menu sounded tantalizing and well-matched, so we both immediately opted for that. Besides, it was a good cause, with $1 of every Prix Fixe dinner sold going to the Maui Food Bank.

For starters, we chose the Loki-Loki Tuna Poke and Little Cayman Lollipops…

and the Big Island Goat Cheese and Tommy’s Coconut Shrimp…

A warm basket of the house dinner bread, served with honey-cinnamon compound butter…

For the entree, we chose the Filet Mignon…

and Tommy’s Baby Back Ribs…

For dessert, we chose the Pina Colada Cake…

and Blackbeard’s Butterscotch…

How was it? First dish I tried was the Loki-Loki Poke…

This is described as fresh Ahi tuna, soy and sesame oil layered with freshly made guacamole and served with Tommy’s flatbread and tortilla strips.

While this worked with the flatbread, I still say crispy wonton strips are a better match, not only with the poke, but also the guac’. I’d give this 3 out of 5 SPAM Musubi with the flatbread served, yet almost guaranteed I’d give 5 if they used crispy wontons instead. May we remind though, this is “Floribbean” cuisine, where Wontons don’t fit into the concept, and it’s just fine as is.

Then we have the Little Cayman Lollipops…

These are grilled chicken drumettes with a mango BBQ glaze and jerk remoulade. These were AWESOME. So moist and tender inside, with those charred markings on just the right places to punch out the glaze’s flavor through caramelization. Next to fried, chicken just doesn’t get better than this.

Then there’s Tommy’s Coconut Shrimp…

These are Crispy coconut encrusted jumbo shrimp served with papaya-mango chutney. That papaya-mango chutney, which looked more like a sauce than a chutney is what really made the dish. Like the Little Cayman Lollipops with it’s Mango BBQ Glaze, this is another triumph in savory-meets-sweet with the Papaya “sauce” complimenting the deep-fried coconut crusted shrimp just beautifully. Perfect marriage.

The Big Island Goat Cheese is described as macadamia nut encrusted goat cheese served with mango salsa,

Tommy’s flatbread and a sweet soy glaze.

No matter what I order, wherever it is, when it comes to wine, I’m all about red, and this time I went with a glass of 14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon, which worked out splendidly with everything this evening, including this exquisitely-prepared Big Island Goat Cheese. I want another serving of it and a glass of that wine, like, NOW!

Now we move on tothe entrees, starting with the Filet Mignon, where here we have it cut open for a doneness check…

Char-grilled to with prominent sear markings, done inside to medium-rare perfection, leaning more rare, which is how I prefer all my steaks done. They nailed it! Not quite “mooing”, but at least reddish-pink in the very center. Being Filet Mignon, of course these two medallions were tender and packed with flavor, taken to notches unknown to mankind (in the words of Emeril) thanks to that deep Demi Glace Port Wine reduction sauce and roasted garlic, along with that pungent dollop of Maytab Blue Cheese on it. Bam! I also LOVE asparagus with my steak, and that was the perfect vegetable accompanyment with this dish.

We both love us some good ‘ole lip-smackin’ BBQ baby back ribs, and when we seen that on the Prix Fixe menu, we just couldn’t resist trying Tommy Bahama’s take on it…

These are described as grilled baby back ribs glazed with Tommy’s own blackberry brandy barbeque sauce.

Served with whipped chive potatoes and Asian slaw.

It was falling-off-the-bone tender, with still enough grab to give that proper “pull” of the pork from the bone to give your choppers a challenge. Know what I mean? That blackberry brandy barbecue sauce, however they make that is AWESOME. I wonder if they sell that stuff bottled in their retail shops? I’ll have to check their website later. Gotta’ admit, these give our favorite rib joint in Waikiki, Tony Roma’s, a run for the money. Another winning dish at TB’s.

The slaw was very light and refreshing, with no bells and whistles, but just crispy and fresh, which is all I ask of a good slaw anyway.Notice there’s rice on the plate, which was requested in substition of the whipped chive potatoes.

Closing out the meal we have those scrumptious desserts, which because of the carefully portioned starters and entrees, we still had room for!

Here I’ve just dug through one of the Blackbeard’s Butterscotch cups…

These are described as dark brown cane sugar, butter, cream, vanilla and scotch whiskey blended and served chilled. Garnished with chocolate ganache, “from scratch” caramel sauce and fresh whipped cream.

Rich, buttery, creamy, chocolatey, cool, creamy, rich, buttery, creamy, crunchy candy cup, rich, buttery, creamy, chocolately, cool, creamy, rich. Yum. Yum. Yum. Yum. Yum. Yum. Oh, sorry, I was in bliss there for that one moment reliving the memory. lol

Then there was that Pina Colada Cake, which is described as moist vanilla layer cake with Myers Dark Rum and chopped pineapple, covered with white chocolate mousse and toasted coconut.

I’m not a cake fan, prefering pies myself, but this cake was indeed moist, with texture and flavor contrasts going on throughout the slice. Take a bite of that, then chase it down with a spoonful of the Blackbeard’s Butterscotch was again, BLISS.

The service on our visit was excellent. Starter and entree dishes arrived in a timely and orderly fashion, piping hot and beautifully presented. Spirit and water glasses kept full and overall, our server was attentive and very friendly. Couldn’t be better.

If you’re on Maui and looking for something a little different than the many Hawaiian and Pacific Regional Cuisine restaurants that make up a majority in the hotels and waterfront locations, consider the tantalizing, exotic tastes of Floribbean Cuisine at Tommy Bahama’s Tropical Cafe. Highly recommended.

Tommy Bahama’s Tropical Cafe

The Shops at Wailea

3750 Wailea Alanui Dr

Wailea, HI 96753

(Maui)

(808) 879-7828

www.TommyBahama.com/TBG/Cafes

The Tasty Island rating:

Related links:

Tommy Bahama’s Tropical Cafe (Wailea) – Yelp user reviews

MauiOnline.com – Watch the Maui Visitors Channel 7 at this site to learn more about the many attractions Maui has to offer!

More tidbits around (east) Maui, we go for a stroll on Big Beach and Little Beach in Makena….

Big Beach in Makena, Maui

Look at how crystal clear and blue the water is where this person is snorkeling…

These photos were taken from the cliff that divides “Big Beach” from “Little Beach”.

Here’s the path on that cliff that goes to Little Beach…

In case you’ve never heard of Little Beach, read the sign on that tree to the right and you’ll get an idea what this place is all about.

Here’s Makena’s Little Beach…

Little Beach in Makena, Maui

Lots of “natural beauty” going on here! lol Sundays afternoons for the “jam session” is the best time to visit Little Beach. Man, like totally, like, GROOOOOOVY, man. lol

Here’s Molikini Atoll, a volcanic formation just off the coast of Makena…

Molikini Atoll, Maui

Off in the distance (unseen in this photo due to VOG) beyond Molokini is the uninhabited island of Kaho’olawe. Molikini Atoll is a popular place for experiencing Maui’s rich ocean life, with activities including snorkeling, snuba and scuba diving. On my next trip to Maui, I’m so doing that.

4 thoughts on “Wailea Eats: Tommy Bahama’s Tropical Cafe

  • June 7, 2009 at 7:01 am
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    Pomai, that pina colada cake and Blackbread Butterscotch is to die for. Wonder what kind of breads do well for a restaurant with a Carib. theme? Most places make the coconut shrimp with sweet coconut which I can’t stand. How the one you ordered?

    Reply
  • June 7, 2009 at 8:59 am
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    Pomai, saw on Tommy Bahama web recipe for pina colada cake and will try it out after seeing in your entry. Coconut shrimp is also another one I will make with mango and pineapple chutney maybe I use papaya instead of pineapple.

    Reply
  • June 7, 2009 at 9:23 am
    Permalink

    Everybody into Tommy Hilfiger’s fashion here in San Franicsco but there no Tommy Bahama only in Southern California or Nevada area. Try to find Blackbeard’s Butterscotch (funny Michael type O) recipe.

    Reply
  • June 8, 2009 at 9:01 am
    Permalink

    Pomai, I contacted Red Lobster regarding their Coconut Shrimp. It the worst ever due to they use sweet coconut instead unsweet coconut on it. The sweet type is mainly for pastries. Been to one in Honolulu other food OK.

    Reply

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