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The Gossiping Gourmet: A breezy new Tommy Bahama

November 17, 2010|By Elle Harrow and Terry Markowitz
  • The Shrimp Avalon at Laguna's new Tommy Bahama restuarant.
The Shrimp Avalon at Laguna's new Tommy Bahama restuarant. (HB Independent )

Tommy Bahama's maxim is, "Life is one long weekend." Only a fictional character could adopt this as a motto these days, but the folks behind this brand would like to make it a reality … at least when you spend a little time with them, shopping and dining. Their latest endeavor, in Laguna, is offering a more "beachy" approach to the "Bahama" experience. Rather than the faux tropical paradise vibe, they are trying to capture historic Laguna in a casual café/bistro rather than a fine dining establishment. Flip-flops and beachwear will be welcome at this beautifully renovated space located in the historic Heisler building in downtown Laguna.

Hand troweled concrete floors, hand-crafted furnishings, natural wood shutters, expansive doors and windows framed in dark mahogany, recessed lighting and abundant natural light all blend to create an open, breezy, casual ambiance. The fresh white walls are adorned with old black and white photographs of historic Laguna Beach. A large bar area dominates the front of the house where you can be served inventive special cocktails like the Cant-e-lope Tonight, as well as the full dining menu.

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The clothing store, a few steps up from the dining room, features a unique line of casual wear especially designed for the Laguna Beach store (less emphasis on Hawaiian prints).

The menu is also unique to Tommy Bahama Laguna, with more burgers and sandwiches, lots of starters, fewer entrées, a selection of large salads and a some interesting sides such as lobster mac 'n' cheese.

The tempting starter menu, with dishes meant to be shared, ranges from a kicked up corn dog made with lobster to tuna tacos in wonton shells. The classic iceberg wedge is gussied up with Nueske's applewood bacon and Maytag blue cheese. Their version of a shrimp cocktail has chopped tiger shrimp, Dungeness crab, cucumber cubes and fresh tomatoes spiked with a bit of tabasco. It's served as a dip with crispy tortilla chips to use as scoops. The flavors are fresh and light. We were looking forward to the corn dogs but found them disappointing. The delicate lobster is overwhelmed with the doughy, bland batter and the two intensely flavored dipping sauces — sriracha mustard and mango ketchup.

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