Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Tommy Bahama food for an island lifestyle
The luxe plantation hale-style interior of Tommy Bahama Restaurant.
BY NADINE KAM
The power of a brand can be measured in how much it can repeat its success over different platforms. If true believers like your clothing, why wouldn’t they like the accessories, the home furnishings, music, airline or hotel associated with your brand, your taste, your style?
Tommy Bahama is one of those powerful lifestyle brands that make it easy for you to envision what various aspects of the business might be like if they existed. Knowing nothing about Tommy Bahama Restaurant you’d probably envision a breezy, tropical, upscale-casual environment and food to match. And, you’d be right.
The boutique opened on Beach Walk Avenue in Waikiki last month, along with a rooftop bar and second-floor restaurant with an interior reminiscent of stately Manoa homes, with indoor-outdoor spaces and living walls of lush greenery that embraces the notion of the ideal life being one that balances modern-day creature comforts and nature.
The restaurant, of course, is heavy on the creature comfort aspect. As soon as you step into the dining room, your eyes will alight on the enticing dessert tray waiting at the top of the stairs. You’ll see the chocolate and brulée-filled pineapple before you see the hostesses.
Another prominent feature of the dining room is its central bar, graced with a recycled glass countertop, the color of ocean shallows. Reclaimed monkeypod, mango and mahogany trees were used to produce all the outdoor dining tables.
Many clothing brands are able to branch out in compatible categories like accessories and jewelry, but few are able to make the leap to running restaurant, a whole other beast. In a bit of magical thinking, I wished that clothing sales would defray the cost of a meal, but the reality is, more square footage equals more rent so in some instances you will pay a Waikiki premium to cover the 10,000 square feet of restaurant space that more than doubles the retail space.
The menu might be thought of as Hawaii as imagined by a band of outsiders for mainstream diners, with nothing too scary or challenging, unless you fear raw tuna.
Tommy Bahama is at 298 Beach Walk. Open daily from 11 a.m. Call (808) 923-8785.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.