One of the things you have to get used to living in a landlocked area is that there’s generally not a truly superb seafood restaurant. Oh, you can find fish and chips and other fried stuff. Plenty of salmon to go around, too. Lots of stuff drowning in sauces. Crab cakes. Shellfish. But nothing like you’ll find a relatively short drive Northwest. Still, you make do with what you have, and one of the things we do have is Bonefish Grill.
Now Bonefish Grill is a chain, to be sure. They’re brought to us from the fine folks who give us Outback Steakhouse (yeah, I don’t like Outback either, but bear with me). The most direct competition they have here would probably be Red Lobster, but Bonefish is considerably better, in my not-so-humble opinion. I took my mother there because she shares my love of seafood, and also to take advantage of what they call “Tuesday Tales of Lobster”, which features lobster dishes that aren’t on the normal menu and ones which are but are sold at a reduced cost on Tuesday. The inside is pretty much what you’d expect: subdued lighting, dark wood, lots of fishy artwork on the walls.
Mom insisted on starting off with an order of Bang Bang Shrimp, which is kind of their signature dish. It resembles nothing more than deep fried shrimp tossed in a spicy mayonnaise, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. There’s a decidedly Asian flavor to this dish, I would guess Thai chili sauce and perhaps even a little sriracha. I don’t know, but it’s surprisingly good. The most impressive part to me is that the batter on the shrimp was able to maintain any crispness while being suffused in mayo, but somehow it does.
We both got lobster tails, Mom for her entree and myself as an add-on, so I didn’t get a picture of her main dish. That being said, let’s spend a moment on sides. Mom chose a Caesar Salad for hers, and yup, it’s a Caesar Salad. Perhaps one with a bit more dressing than is strictly necessary, but in the end neither really good nor really bad.
I chose broccolini because, well, I’d never had it before. The presentation is kind of indulgent, it was wood-grilled and tossed with a garlic herb butter. I love broccoli and I loved this. It’s definitely something I’d order again.
For my main course I chose the Chilean Sea Bass, mainly because I’d never had that before either. For being something you see on cooking shows all the time, I’ve seen it on surprisingly few menus. But before we delve any further into that, let’s get the lobster tail out of the way. The first thing you have to realize is that it’s not fresh. Bonefish serves quite a few lobster items but no whole lobster, which pretty much has to mean that they’re getting these things frozen. Either that or there’s a tank somewhere with a lot of mutilated lobsters in it. So taking that into consideration, it was very decent and a reasonable size for the price. There was also a little bit of veg on the side (zucchini is always welcome with me), and then a hunk of the aforementioned sea bass. Bonefish wood grills pretty much everything they can (the lobster tails are steamed), and you get to choose between having it simply served with lemon or with one of a variety of sauces. I made the mistake of choosing the lemon butter sauce because that’s a combination that goes well with so many fish. It’s really not necessary with this particular fish though, as the meat has a very buttery texture on its own. Plus, I was getting pretty buttered out. My side was tossed in butter, the lobster was served with butter, the sea bass had a butter sauce, you get the idea. Still, the fish was very tender and moist, and came apart in large flakes. At nearly thirty dollars a plate it’s tied with the two lobster tail dinner for the most expensive thing on the menu. Yes, it’s a bit of an investment, but don’t you ever get tired of the usual cod/salmon/trout/halibut/tilapia/mahi mahi? I know I do.
Food: Surprisingly good, and a decent selection of simply prepared options to let the seafood shine on its own merits. The lobster tails could have been a little more tender.
Value: Seafood continues to be pricey for those of us not living on a coast.
Service: No complaints.
Atmosphere: If you spend enough time in enough different restaurants, you can just feel the chain touches. I would have sensed I was in one even if I hadn’t known it beforehand. Still, it could be worse. There’s always the aforementioned Red Lobster.
Final Grade: B+