Perched on top of a parking garage just a block off the circle in the middle of Towson on Joppa Road, the entrance to “Bahama Breeze Island Grille” off ramps into Towsontown center is easy to miss. Part of a chain with a couple dozen locations and owned by the large Darden restaurant group (parent of Olive Grove, Red Lobster, and Longhorn Steakhouse), “Bahama Breeze” features a Caribbean island theme.
Inside, you’ll find three colorful, large dining rooms plus a long oval bar surrounded by booths plus a large covered patio that can be delightful (when the weather cooperates!). Along with our friends Tom and Paul, we were seated in a spacious booth with a view of the bar and the open kitchen.
The extensive menu includes about 20 appetizers ($5-$12), several soups ($5-$6), several entrée salads ($10-$12), a half dozen sandwiches ($10 – which include fries, fruit salad, tomato salad or black beans & rice) plus eighteen entrées ($11-$20). We liked that half of the entrees offered “Lighter portions” priced dollars less in addition to full size portions. We were all hungry and decided to share two appetizers: “Island Onion Rings” ($8) and Tomato Island Flatbread ($8).
When Marty spied our onion rings coming out of the kitchen piled 8” high on a huge plate, he exclaimed “Oh my gawd!” (which was quickly echoed by the rest of us! We discovered that Bahama Breeze portions are big!). The rings tasted even better than they looked with a crunchy, tasty crust that was surprisingly not greasy earning an unqualified “Thumbs-up”. The flatbread which turned out to be a 10”+ thin crust pizza was equally impressive (and easily could have made for a wonderful entrée).
Our entrées earned “Thumbs-up” from all of us. Bob’s “Buttermilk Fried Chicken” ($12) generated “WOW!”s with several fried boneless chicken breasts stacked high with layers of sautéed spinach, tomatoes and cheese (the menu description just doesn’t do justice to this creation!).
Tom enjoyed his Jerk Chicken Pasta ($16) which came covered in a rich parmesan cream surrounding pieces of chicken, asparagus and mushrooms (and left him wishing he ordered the $12 light portion!)
John’s “Tropical Fruit and Grilled Chicken” salad ($10) included still warm, grilled chicken, fresh fruit, goat cheese and almonds on top of mixed greens; it was wonderfully satisfying!
Bill’s Cobb Salad looked every bit as appetizing (and big!) as John’s Salad:
Marty was amazed by the large number of shrimp nestled in pieces of grilled scallions and fresh tomatoes in his Calypso Shrimp Linguine ($17); again, the portion was so big that he wished he had opted for the “lighter” portion ($13).
Between the combination of the wonderful (and at times creative!) food, pleasant Caribbean feel and our engaging, attentive waitress, our only regret was that we had no room left for dessert!
And the big question we wrestled with as we left: why did it take us so long to discover a “Thumbs Up!” restaurant like “Bahama Breeze”? (Avoid our mistake and give it a try!)
BASICS: Bahama Breeze Island Grille (Towson); 100 E. Joppa Rd.; 410-821-7090; www.bahamabreeze.com; Open 7 days/week; lunch& dinner from 11 am to 12 midnight; Sunday Brunch; Full Bar; veggie options; no reservations (Most recent visit: 12/29/2013)