Thursday, August 2, 2018

Not a Boneheaded Move Going to Bonefish Grill - CLOSED

Bonefish Grill
3040 El Camino Real
Tustin, CA 92782

The options for seafood when I was a kid was either H. Salt Fish and Chips or frozen fish sticks when we were going to be babysat. I can remember the first time my parents brought home some swordfish steaks, I must have been about seven or eight. I was surprised they did not have a breading and that my dad was barbecuing them instead of taking them from the freezer and warming them up in the oven. That fresh swordfish opened my eyes to the wonderful world of seafood, and I have been a fan ever since.

Nowadays seafood can be found more readily than when I was growing up. Not just at restaurants, we would consider fancy anymore. Seafood restaurants run the gamut from fast-casual places, to restaurants that feature valet parking and near triple-digit entree prices. We were recently invited to a place that is comfortably in the middle of these two extremes, Bonefish Grill in the Tustin Marketplace.

Bonefish Grill kind of gets overlooked because they only have two locations in California, but I was surprised to learn that they have close to 200 locations in 32 states. They must be doing something right to be able to operate all of those locations, and we were pretty excited to come in and partake in some of their summer specials, including their Bangin' BFG Sandwich that we have heard so much about.

We arrived at Bonefish Grill at 5pm on a recent Saturday. A little earlier than we like to eat, but we had a prior commitment, and knew there would not be great food there, so we stopped at Bonefish first. The restaurant was fairly full when we walked in, but almost all the tables were filled up during our visit. This used to be the site of the former Black Angus back in the day but is now unrecognizable from those times. The casual/modern decor reminded me of the feel of maybe Paul Martin's or a brighter more lively P.F Chang's.

The menu is predictably seafood-focused with many grilled options, signature favorites, and handhelds dotting the menu. Not a fan of creatures from the sea? There are three steak selections for you to choose from, along with a burger which I've heard good things about. We were here to try their new sandwiches from their specials menu, which on this evening also featured a delicious sounding Spinach, Bacon, and Blue Cheese Grouper that I'll have to come back and try next time. For now, let's see how this visit went.

Every meal at Bonefish Grill starts with their fantastic bread service, which is hard to resist. It came out warm and fresh with a side of olive oil and pesto for dipping. They were not shy about refilling this frequently, as Katie and I could not stop eating this. We finally managed to stop at two loaves, but the struggle to have more was real.

Katie is almost an addict when it comes to ahi, so she had to succumb and give their Ahi Tuna Sashimi ($15.50) a try. This is listed as a starter but could easily be an entree option for some of you lighter eaters. The sushi grade tuna was seared to a nice rare and was sesame crusted. It was presented on a bed of greens and topped with Bonefish Grill's signature Bang Bang sauce, which is one of the better sauces around, as it has a nice creamy texture and provides a kick of spice at the tail end of it, without being too overpowering. Katie was very satisfied with this starter.

I went without an appetizer on this evening, instead opting for this Classic Caesar Salad ($4.50 with the purchase of an entree). This was a nearly perfect simple Caesar. It came out on a nicely chilled plate, with plenty of chopped romaine, garlic croutons, and plenty of grated parmesan. I would have liked a tad more dressing on this though, but still pretty solid.

Now on to the real reason we were invited here, to try their Bangin' BFG Sandwiches ($19.90). They offer three varieties to choose from; grilled, fried, or the one that Katie selected, blackened. At this Tustin location, they use rockfish as the centerpiece for this sandwich. It is joined on the very well made bun with sliced tomato, coleslaw, and the Bang Bang sauce that was used earlier on the tuna appetizer. Katie loved this sandwich, calling it delicious. She liked the spiciness of the blackening seasoning and felt that the bun really held up well. She thought the fries were done nicely.

Not surprising to longtime readers of this restaurant blog, I went with the fried version of the Bangin' BFG Sandwich. I liked that the breading was not greasy at all, which allowed the natural flavor of the mellow rockfish to shine through. The breading did have a good crunch to it, but the sandwich was a little hard to eat, as the piece of fish was too big for the bun and fell out frequently. I eventually just ate the rockfish with a fork dipping it into the addictive Bang Bang Sauce. Even though the menu said this was served with fries, our server told us we could pick any of their signature sides to go along with this sandwich, so I selected the Potato Au Gratin, which was fine, but I liked Katie's fries better.

Fresh Strawberry Shortcake ($8.30) was offered as the lone dessert on their specials menu on this evening and that just happens to be one of Katie's favorite desserts, even though it's not one of mine, but we got it anyways. Sometimes I can be a good husband. This utilized a split shortcake biscuit which was topped with strawberries, whipped cream, and creme anglaise for a little sweetness. Katie enjoyed that Bonefish Grill did not feel the need to douse the strawberries in a heavy syrup, which made this a lighter summer dessert that you can feel less guilty about eating.

This visit to Bonefish Grill has reopened our eyes to this wonderful seafood restaurant which we have in the past overlooked for one reason or the other. Not only were the Bangin' BFG Sandwiches good, but we look forward to coming back again real soon to experience their popular Bang Bang Shrimp appetizer, some of their signature seafood offerings, and maybe their coconut pie for dessert. Our server Brett was fantastic on this evening, as he met our every need and we got to know him a little bit. We also had a great visit with Managing Partner Donna Maniscalco who was working the dining room to ensure that every guest was enjoying their visit. We enjoyed our chat, Donna. I also am happy that seafood has evoved from when I was a kid, and there are tons more options than way back in those long ago days.

For more information about Bonefish Grill and to keep track of their specials, head to their website here:

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