Tommy Bahama Returns, Fleming’s Tastes the Future

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The interior of the renovated Tommy Bahama restaurant in Corona del Mar. / courtesy of Tommy Bahama

Tommy Bahama Gets Makeover

How do you revive a classic and make it even better? Ask Tommy Bahama.

The Tommy Bahama restaurant and retail store in Corona del Mar Plaza has been a fixture in the Newport Beach culinary world for 20 years, and it finally got a well-deserved makeover this year.

The restaurant closed its doors for nearly six months while it underwent a transformation. The new Tommy Bahama made its debut last month, and the result is nothing short of stunning.

“We’re excited to debut a new architectural concept that has been completely reimagined for Newport Beach and coastal California,” said Doug Wood, CEO of Tommy Bahama. “We worked to develop just the right look and feel for this new restaurant-retail design. We’ve revitalized the menu and created an open, inviting shopping experience that we know our guests will enjoy.”

New Tommy Bahama facade / courtesy of Tommy Bahama

Anyone familiar with the old Tommy Bahama will note a new exterior with a reconfigured patio and glass door façade that folds back to create a fluid indoor/outdoor space.

Roasted beet salad

The expansive bar and dining area are accented with blonde wood ceiling beams and panels that are awash in light. A tiled floor that resembles wood flows through the entire space. The bar has been repositioned to the center of the restaurant, making it a focal point of the space with seating on all four sides and at adjacent high-top tables.

The patio has fire pits with lounge seating, and a raised terrace offers seating with a view of the surroundings.

Tommy Bahama’s new menu includes Dungeness crab dip with nan bread.

“This is the most we have ever spent on a Tommy Bahama remodel,” Rob Goldberg, executive vice president for Tommy Bahama restaurants, bars and food concepts, told me when I attended a media dinner there last week. “This is one of our flagship locations. We wanted it to be more current. We have a good team, great access to local produce, a very California-centric menu.”

Corporate Chef Andrew Warner was on hand to walk us through new menu items, which included a baby iceberg wedge with mustard greens, roasted jerk bacon and avocado green goddess dressing, roasted beet salad, Dungeness crab dip with nan bread, a smoked salmon board, Alaskan halibut with saffron-braised artichokes, Kona coffee rubbed prime ribeye, and mini bites of five different desserts, including my favorite, key lime pie.

And while these were new menu items, many of the Tommy Bahama classics are still on the menu, including the coconut shrimp and the blackened mahi mahi tacos.

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The event room and video projections at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar’s new wine dinner experience dubbed “Taste of the Future.”

Fleming’s Offers Taste of the Future

Take a dash of Disney, a bit of IMAX, and a heaping amount of creative cuisine and fine wines, and you have the ingredients for Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar’s new wine dinner experience dubbed “Taste of the Future,” a sensory journey up the California coast.

According to Beth Scott, president of Fleming’s, this five-course California-inspired wine pairing menu is a “unique, 360-degree culinary experience that will truly immerse guests using all five senses. Through this unique and memorable event, we will transport guests to the time, place and season that their food is from with sensory surprises throughout the five courses.”

Fleming’s smoked tomato soup with Humboldt fog foam and brown butter brioche toast point paired with Goldeneye’s ten degrees Anderson Valley pinot noir.

Held in the Fleming’s underground private dining room, the venue transforms with virtual panoramic projections and natural sounds of evocative scenes of the ocean, farms and vineyards that inspired the menu selections.

My senses were indeed stimulated when I experienced the inaugural Taste of the Future event last week.

Curated by Chef Partner Kevin Monahan and National Wine Director Stephen Blevins, the menu included a first course of Alaskan octopus with grilled artichokes and squid ink reduction, paired with Freemark Abbey’s Howell Mountain chardonnay.

Before the course was served, videos of an octopus in the ocean and scenic vistas of the California coast were projected on the walls, while a voiceover by Chef Monahan helped set the scene and prepare diners for their first course.

Alaskan octopus

Second course was smoked tomato soup with Humboldt fog foam and brown butter brioche toast point paired with Goldeneye’s ten degrees Anderson Valley pinot noir. The accompanying video projections dealt with preparing the tomatoes, and vineyard views.

The evening proceeded with more wall-to-wall videos and a third course of striped bass with roasted corn, cilantro salad, and creamy avocado puree paired with Robert Mondavi fume blanc To Kalon Vineyard Napa Valley.

Striped bass

Fourth Course was wagyu ribeye medallion with root vegetable medley and red wine reduction paired with DAOU Reserve cabernet sauvignon from Paso Robles.

Fifth Course was fig upside down cake with honey cinnamon glaze and candied figs paired with Dolce Napa Valley.

The pairings were perfect, the cuisine divine. I particularly enjoyed the smoked tomato soup and the striped bass. Overall, it was an unusual, exciting, tasty, visual and creative event.

Guests can enjoy Taste of the Future events the first Saturday of every month through November, with a fresh, new menu and culinary journey.

For guests looking to create a customized event, the Fleming’s private dining director is available to curate private experiences, perfect for special celebrations such as a birthday in Paris complete with a French-inspired menu and visual journey through the European city.

The Taste of the Future event is $200 per guest and space is limited to about three dozen patrons. To make a reservation, call (949) 720-9633. To book a private experience, contact Newport Beach Private Dining Director Christy Kutzinger via email at [email protected].

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