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RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK
This is a national chain in the U.S. and from our several experiences, a pretty good one. Our most recent visit came at their Troy, Michigan branch.
There were 8 of us on a mid-Saturday afternoon. We chose this time knowing that there wouldn't be a crowd, which can be formidable at these popular restaurants. There were four adults, three kids and one infant.
I started out with an order of Cuban black bean soup. My wife ordered fried calamari with the tomato sauce on the side. Our daughter and her husband and kids shared two appetizers -- calamari and an artichoke dip with tortilla chips.
The black bean soup was excellent. Flavorful and seasoned perfectly. However if you're expecting the same thing you get down in Ybor City in the Tampa Bay area you might be disappointed. Down there the soup consists of yellow or white rice topped with thick black beans. Finely chopped onion goes on the top and many places offer a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil as a finishing touch. At Bahama Breeze their rendition is a thin soup with very little rice. Again, however, it was excellent and I'd highly recommend it to you.
The calamari was done absolutely perfectly. Tender, lightly battered and wonderful. I tried a bit of the artichoke dip and it was okay. I've had better at other places.
For our main courses I chose a seafood paella. My wife went with a Cuban sandwich. Our daughter selected barbecued chicken breast and her husband got coconut shrimp.
My daughter enjoyed her chicken. Our son-in-law absolutely raved about his coconut shrimp. They were huge shrimp, fantailed and lightly fried. My wife absolutely loved her Cuban sandwich and my seafood paella was just okay. It came with black mussels, scallops, shrimp, some type of Polish sausage and bits of fish. All of the seafood and especially the mussels tasted a little fishy. The yellow rice and broth, however, was excellent.
The coconut shrimp sure looked good and I had a bite of my wife's Cuban sandwich and it was the hit of the table as far as I'm concerned. They take Cuban bread (kind of like a hoagie roll) and use various cold cuts, cheese, pickles and lettuce. They then put the sandwich in a hot press not unlike a trouser press and heat it up and compress it. It wasn't quite as good as the genuine items I've had in Ybor City (Tampa's Cuban and Spanish Latin Quarter) but it was a good placebo.
As I said before, we've eaten at Bahama Breeze restaurants several times around the country and we've never been disappointed. Oh, I almost forgot. They have some great cocktails including their signature margarita and some really nice boutique beers. I enjoyed a couple of 20 ounce Aruba beers on this visit.
Chances are there's a Bahama Breeze within striking distance of your home or town. Find out by logging onto their web site here.