Saturday, April 23, 2016

Restaurant Review: Tom's Oyster Bar

Things have Changed and it's for the Better

Update 8/3/16 below. . .

It's been years since we have eaten at Tom's Oyster Bar. While I love visiting restaurants in downtown Royal Oak, sometimes the food isn't as good as it could be, but why would a restaurant put in that extra effort when they can be jam packed every night anyways?

Tom's Oyster Bar, in my opinion, was kind of boring before. . . Now for those that really enjoy oysters that might not be the case but I like a variety of seafood and oysters just aren't on that list for me. Don't be discouraged though because Tom's is not old boring Tom's anymore. This is a new place.

I had read that the menu had been updated due to a new chef but I kind of filed that away. The impetus to go there was a gift card that I won. Yes, I won a gift card to Tom's Oyster Bar by guessing the closest number to the actual number of Flaming Spanish Coffees sold in January! 

We waited until the first night the patios were open in Royal Oak. The weather was a little crisp but still wonderful to celebrate the official end of winter! A jacket and a cocktail can always counteract the chill in the air on a spring evening.

We started with an appetizer of Calamari which was lightly battered with brown butter, mirepoix, Thai bird chili, garlic aioli and arugula. That calamari featured both rings and tentacles which I think is much better than just one cut. I loved the garlic sauce for dipping which had a little heat. I did think the mirepoix was just a tad too much as I also ordered a salad, it was more of a chopped salad than a garnish. I wanted to find my calamari a little easier but it made for a treasure hunt of sorts. I don't want to be too critical because this was still very good - perfectly fried so it wasn't too crisp or greasy.

The Caesar salad was generous with two wedges of Romaine lettuce. While I have had many wedge salads I haven't seen too many Caesar versions but this was very good as the lettuce was incredibly fresh. I can't stand a wilted salad and this structure could stand up to dressing as well as nice shavings of Parmesan. The wedges were topped with buttercrumb and two anchovies. I will confess I did not touch those little fishies but the salad was very good and I would definitely order this again.

My husband loves fish and chips and these did not disappoint him. This is a generous portion, served in a whimsical metal bucket with newspaper for decoration (it wasn't to blot up any extra grease because they were fried perfectly). Tender and flaky, this was fresh. The fries were delicious as well with a nice outside crust. I personally enjoyed the little side of coleslaw. Cole slaw is either very disappointing or very good to me. This was a good version with a cream base that had just a little bit of spice that complimented the crisp cabbage. This wasn't the least bit soggy which really emphasized the freshness of everything we were served that night.

I saved the best for last. I really thought these scallops were divine. There's no other way to describe them. First, let me start with this was a difficult decision to order these as I was torn between scallops and Fisherman's Stew (I will have to go back). Secondly, I had disappointing scallops the previous weekend elsewhere (and that's my own fault for eating at a well known chain and expecting that the scallops would be good?). These scallops were everything the disappointing ones were not. Perfectly seared on one side, wonderful translucent color that just let you know that they were going to be the most perfect texture. . . yes, that's a lot of "perfect" but it was well deserved. Not only were these scallops so very good, the plating for the entire dish made this just more than scallops and I actually enjoyed everything in that bowl. These gems sat on top of curried carrots, cauliflower (both white and purple), peas, lemon oil and cardamon walnuts. I don't even like peas but I ate every last one that was there. I was hoping for a tiny wedge of bread to scoop every last bit of the sauce that formed at the bottom. I even tried to make roasted curried cauliflower and carrots at home but I don't think I could ever get this right (mine wasn't even close).

Now, it would be completely negligent of me not to try the drink that got us there in the first place right?  While I did have a beer with dinner I thought that it was appropriate to have a Flaming Spanish Coffee to finish up this memorable meal. It did not disappoint either. I have to imagine that the rum is 150 proof to get that nice crusty cinnamon sugar rim. Often I find that coffee drinks can have an overpowering amount of alcohol that does not allow them to go down smoothly. It could just be me. I can hear the retorts right now. This drink was a nice balance and I got the warmth of the alcohol without sacrificing the good coffee flavor or that delicious sugar after-note. Good stuff.

Moral of the story? Give local restaurants a second chance. Often things change and it can be for the better. I am glad we have this place back on the radar and plan on having it be a summer hang this year. Eat local!

Update 8/3/16 

What would possess me to update a perfectly good review? More important information in the form of delicious updates! Pineappletinis! Pineapple infused vodka makes for a summer treat. . . This drink is so light and tropical without being overly sweet. Think of it as pineapple juice with a kick and just remember that even if you don't notice that "kick" it's there. This is potent stuff but oh so good!

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