By John M. Hayden
New and improved. That sums up the status of a restaurant at the end of Wilton Drive. With a new name and new look, plus an improved menu, the Tropics Grille is stepping up its game.
Some of the OutClique staff recently hit up the spot for dinner to try a few dishes. If you’ve been in years past, when it was just known as just Tropics, you’ll see and feel a difference right away. They’ve knocked down a wall to open up and give the main dining room more flow into the new stage area. There is still the main bar by the door and the second bar back by the stage. The decor is updated and feels fresh and clean. The columns are aesthetically nice, not a focal point but not a distraction either. The back room is still separate from the main area and has a more traditional bar vibe.
But none of it means a thing without quality food to back it up, so we were anxious to dive into the menu. All four of us have very distinct palates so we were able to try a wide range of items and get a good feel for the menu.
We started with some calamari, which was deep fried and the batter kept its crispness. The shrimp cocktail came with several large shrimp, a very good serving for an appetizer. And then there were the meatballs. We’re not talking little two ounce rations of meat in a bit of sauce. These were three giant meatballs, each about the size of my fist. They were served in a house made marinara sauce with a light, ricotta-based cheese blend on top. Along with the calamari, these are great for sharing with your tablemates.
From there it was on to the main courses. Executive Chef, Ricardo Flores, gave us some insight before we ordered, telling us, “We’re a scratch kitchen. Everything here is made from scratch.” That means all dressings and sauces are made at the restaurant. French fries are hand cut, mashed potatoes are peeled and mashed on the spot. The fish is fresh and cut every day and the produce is delivered daily. They may have a freezer in the back, but it doesn’t sound like there is much use for it.
We tried a couple of steaks, a tuna dish, and a pork entree. The steaks were cooked as ordered, and the gorgonzola cheese melted on the filet added a fresh taste to a traditional steak. The tuna was very pleasing, and there was more than could be eaten there, even with all of us taking a bite. The pork came with a half rack of ribs and a portion of pulled pork. The sauce was great and the texture was nearly melt-in-your-mouth. It’s clear that Tropics Grille has two goals: quality food for a good value. We all left with take-home boxes so we feel like we got our money’s worth.
And we haven’t even gotten to desserts. The carrot cake is clearly homemade, because while most places are serving up little flakes of carrot in the cake, Tropics Grille has healthy sized chunks. But the thing that had all of our forks fighting for more was the Peanut Butter Mousse Cake with a brownie crust. I think I almost stabbed someone’s hand with my fork while going in for another bite!
So when you’re hungry and ready to hit The Drive, give Tropics Grille a fresh look. Check out the full menu and daily specials at their website, www.TheGrilleOTD.com