Why: When I discovered that Tommy O’s opened a location in the historic Camas Hotel, I had high hopes. Tommy O’s has been somewhat of an iconic restaurant for Pacific Rim cuisine in downtown Vancouver. A few years ago, a second location on 192nd Avenue closed, and a few months ago, a drive-through location off Highway 14 made a short go of it. After my recent dinner visit, it’s obvious that Tommy O’s has found its perfect second location. I am confident the restaurant has the recipe for success.
What I tried: To start, my dining companion and I decided on the Crispy Calamari from the appetizer menu. For our entrees, I settled on the Ahi Caesar Salad and my dining companion had the Mac Nut Halibut. We finished our meal with the key lime tart and the pot de creme. We also tried the Lahaina Lemonade from the house cocktails.
If you try the calamari from the small plates, you will likely be as excited as I was when it arrives at the table. Instead of the typical and tired fried rings, you will be presented with a katsu-style (that is, panko-coated) fillet of calamari fried to a golden crisp that sits on a bed of cabbage and is topped with green onions. Dipped in the zesty aioli served alongside, each bite is a marvel of flavor and a promise of things to come from the larger plates.
I had the blackened-ahi version of the Caesar salad. Atop chopped, fresh romaine lettuce tossed in the house Caesar dressing and Parmesan sits a perfectly seared portion of ahi with just the right amount of blackened seasoning. It does not detract from the clean goodness of premium ahi flavor or the smooth texture. Housemade croutons are added to the salad, providing a pleasant, crunchy element.
My dining companion had nothing but praise for the halibut, which she reluctantly offered for me to try. But that would mean sharing some of my entree, so I declined and confidently took her word for its caliber.
We could not have hoped for more from the desserts. They were scrumptious and completed our meal at Tommy O’s just as perfectly as it had begun.
The Lahaina Lemonade is a refreshing, light-tasting cocktail that is excellent for someone who is trying to avoid a syrupy-sweet cocktail.
Menu highlights beyond what I tried: Small plates include pork belly bites, lobster pot stickers and Thai garlic chicken drumsticks. Among the large plates are a Kalbi salmon and a miso-sake butterfish. The menu also includes land-based options: a 16-ounce ribeye, teriyaki chicken and kalua pork.
Atmosphere: When I walked in, I was so relieved to see that a classy restaurant once again fills the sophisticated space at the hotel. Not since Oliver’s occupied the hotel has the ambiance been so perfect. Dark wood handsomely trims the doorways, encases the front alcoves by the entrance and returns a stately presence befitting of the hotel. An island theme is tastefully carried throughout with plants, bamboo, art and a vibrant color palette below the ivory-painted coffered ceiling. Ceiling fans and simple, elegant pendant lights are both practical and decorative.
Other observations: The waitstaff is professional and personable. Our server was attentive without being intrusive, and she was very knowledgable. “Outstanding” sums up my dinner visit to Tommy O’s. Everything was spot-on. With a full house, the noise level can make conversations a bit hard to hear.
Cost: Dinner starters are $3 to $17. Salads are $11 to $18. Large plates cost $10 to $31. Dessert is $9. House cocktails are $10. Wine by the glass starts at $4, by the bottle starts at $21. Beer is $6 for draft and $3.50 to $5.50 for bottled options. Sandwiches are on the lunch menu for $13.50 to $14.50.