Featured, Oakland, Travel

Bahama Breeze: Caribbean Flavor in Your Backyard

Bahama Breeze sponsored this post by providing us with a free meal. While it was delicious, and we used it to celebrate our anniversary, all opinions in this review are our own and were not in any way influenced by Bahama Breeze.


 20160803_165658Sometimes things just work out. Due to a number of reasons, Courtney and I didn’t take an official honeymoon after our wedding three years ago and20160803_170911
have taken few trips since then. This year, we decided to extend an end-of-summer trip to Orlando by a few days to overlap with our 3-year anniversary. Filling our days with paddle-boarding, Epcot and snoozing by the pool, we planned nothing but long stretches of relaxation separated by indulging in some delicious food and drink.

When traveling, we both gravitate toward the new experiences found at local, mom-and-pop restaurants over big chain restaurants. On this trip, however, we found a completely new experience at a growing, but very unique chain. Bahama Breeze Island Grill initially offered us a free meal to review two locations they recently opened in the Detroit area, one in Livonia and the other in Troy. We asked if we could visit a location in Orlando instead and combined a little business with a little pleasure. What resulted was an ah-mazing dinner experience on our 3rd anniversary.

Any dinner is made better with a helpful and knowledgeable server, and we had one of the best. A foodie veteran of the restaurant industry, he kept us entertained with stories of this restaurant, other restaurants where he has worked and great meals he enjoyed on travels abroad. I would love to mention him by name, but I lost my notes from the meal and he insisted on giving us all the yummy drinks below to sample. 😉  

Starters

We started the meal with a couple of their signature cocktails and the Island Hopper appetizer platter.

A combination of Island favorites, the Island Hopper features Jamaican chicken wings, crispy coconut shrimp, onion rings and conch fritters. The chicken wings, crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside, paired will with the accopmanying jerk BBQ sauce while the crispy coconut shrimp tasted great with the citrus-mustard dipping sauce.

Courtney enjoyed the Ultimate Bahamarita, a signature frozen Margarita, made with Sauza Tequila, kiwi, strawberry and mango ices and served with a shot of Cactus Juice Schnapps. I enjoyed the One Love, part of the limited-time Reggae Fest menu and made with Malibu Banana Rum, pineapple, orange, and guava juice shaken together and topped with an Appleton Rum floater. 

This was a fantastic way to start our meal.

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When we needed drinks refilled we decided to move to a couple of Bahama Breeze’s signature flights so we could sample as many flavors as possible during our visit. I stuck with the Rum theme and ordered up a Mama’s Hooch and Holler, which featured a Bahama Mama (Cruzan Coconut, Bacardi Black and Castillo Silver Rums, Leroux Banana Liqueur, pineapple and orange juice), Bahamian Sunset (Castillo Silver and Cruzan Coconut Rums, Licor 43, pineapple juice, and grenadine), and a Goombay Smash (Cruzan Coconut, Spiced and Bacardi Black Rums, mixed with fresh orange and pineapple juice).

Courtney went in the tequila direction, lured by the promise of a Key Lime Pie Margarita (that was accompanied by a Hibiscus margarita and a spicy Habanero Margarita).

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For dinner, Courtney went to a can’t miss treat of Lobster Mac & Cheese. I couldn’t decide what I wanted so I asked them to surprise me. I was very surprised when they dropped not only a plate of stuffed Crab Shells in front of me but also brought another sample from Reggae Fest, a Taste of Jamaica Platter. The Taste of Jamaica featured a handmade beef empanada, pulled pork, callaloo, sweet plantains, yellow rice and black beans.

 

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Well seasoned and immensely flavorable, every single dish wowed us. We kept eating well past our limits in an effort to truly taste and appreciate everything in front of us. Having never tasted Caribbean food before, many hours of watching the Food Network helped me imagine my first experience with inside a Miami diner. While Bahama Breeze feels a bit more Restaurant Row than urban hipster, the food did not disappoint.

Well past full, our server insisted we close out the meal with a slice of their signature Key Lime Pie. By slice, I mean a full quarter section of pie. True to form, the pie came with an origin story. Developed by a Bahama Breeze employee almost 20 years ago, it was so tasty that it has been on the menu ever since. I can certainly say it has earned that place on the menu.

Like many other large restaurant chains, Bahama Breeze brings you more food on a plate than you can easily finish in one meal, but that just means you have some tasty, tasty leftovers for the next day.

I expect, and hope, to visit a Bahama Breeze at my next opportunity.

If you’re looking for something different, something to kick you out of your usual rut of pasta places, chicken places, and pizza places, check out Bahama Breeze.

It will not disappoint.

Find a location near you (here).

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