Special dinner accented by impeccable service
By: Mike sanford, GLOB Editor, with contributions by Lynn Dirk, GLOB Content Editor
When Gainesville's Lunch Out Blog received a generous invitation to sample the Bonefish Grill's Fall Tasting Menu, it didn't take long for GLOB Content Editor and the GLOB Master to make arrangements for an early weekend dinner.
Typically I'm not a big fan of the corporate dining experience. I was interested, however, in seeing how this seafood restaurant was handling the major construction going on outside its front door that made Bonefish the last business standing in a complex that previously included Walmart, a game store, and Outback Steakhouse.
"It was rough at first when it appeared to customers we were closed," said Bonefish Manager, Holly Taber; she added, "We put that giant 'OPEN FOR BUSINEES' sign out front and that helped a lot."
We were quickly seated in a window booth with a large window facing the bright, sunlit parking lot and we noted two columns flanked by two palms with remarkable symmetry. Coincidence or canny landscaping? Only the shadow knows.
I have had several discussions about five-star dining in Gainesville, which, unfortunately, is rare. With the customer friendly, attentive service of Ms. Melinda O'Rourke combined with an excellent dinner, our Bonefish experience had five-star written all over it from the Fall Apple Martini to Ms. O'Rourke's clear, detailed, pleasing, and informative explanation of menu items.
The martini included fresh fall apples infused for 3 days in vodka and finished with a touch of honey and cinnamon sprinkle. The martini was excellent -- not too sweet and not too cinnamon-y. And then we were on our way to a fabulous full course meal.
There has been a lot of conversation downtown about stone crab claws being in season, and we started our dinner off with a beautiful presentation of some very big, plump claws that were pre-cracked for easier crab meat extraction. I do have a rule to stay away from entrees that require pliers, hammers, or their own specific silverware. I did manage to excavate a good portion of the very tasty crab flesh, which was served with an unusual tart and tasty mustard sauce.
The Bonefish House Salad and homemade bread were special, the salad including heart of palm, Kalamata olives, tomatoes, and citrus herb vinaigrette -- a very nice, palette-cleansing bite before our main course. The generous helping of black olives and juicy cherry tomatoes added a vibrant flavor. The homemade bread and virgin olive oil dip was delicious. Ignoring my blood sugar battle, I did enjoy a slice of the soft but springy and airy bread.
Captain Dirk does not normally order seafod because of the over-harvesting of oceans that is occurring. It also helps to maintain this practice, she says, because she does not love the texture and taste of many fish. In this case, she made an exception and decided to try the Fresh Swordfish & Pumpkin Ravioli ($22.9) -- the fish was wood-grilled and the ravioli was topped with crispy onions, crumbled feta and a hint of butter, both complemented by a side of French green beans. Melinda had said the swordfish is more like meat than other fish, and Lynn confirmed: "This is the first time I have had swordfish, and I like the texture and flavor -- it really is more like a tender meat. Also, this dish is very well prepared -- the seasoning is rich and flavorful. The ravioli was also very good and a great counterpoint to the green beans, which were cooked perfectly - bright green with a slight crunch."
Later she checked to find out what the status of swordfish is and learned, fortunately, that "consumers can rest assured that when they buy North Atlantic swordfish harvested by U.S. vessels, they are supporting one of the most environmentally responsible pelagic longline fisheries in the world." That was a great relief to Lynn, and she hopes that this is the source of the swordfish obtained by Bonefish.
I love a good snapper filet and, when Melinda described the spicy sauce that it was served in, the Wild Snapper & Shrimp entree, ($25.9) was my choice -- I wanted to taste the combination of wood-grilled fish with a "soft blackening" spice and three jumbo shrimp finished with a warm chorizo "mojo" sauce. This dish was served with jasmine rice and I was able to have asparagus instead of the usual green beans served with this dish so Lynn and I could share our veggies for variety.
The fish was cooked perfectly and it and the shrimp were coated in that spicy sauce, which conjured up memories of Crystal Hot Sauce. But that was all right because I love Crystal Hot Sauce pretty much on anything.
That was a lot of food GLOBers. While the entrees were somewhat pricey, you certainly get your money's worth. Plus Melinda says they are happy to make your entrée to share with your guest.
The seasonal dessert was Pumpkin Creme Brulee - silky smooth with a wonderful candied carmelized crust on top. The pumpkin flavor was very subtle, so the different textures were the highlight of the dessert.
You can FOLLOW THIS LINK for a complete Bonefish grill, menu. https://www.bonefishgrill.com/dinner-menu/desserts
OMG! What a dinner GLOBers. I know I have already said this, but Lynn and I ate enough food to satisfy four people. This was a special dinner, and I could be talked into returning very quickly. I still want to do a Bonefish Sunday Brunch, especially if I could get a plate of the other dessert option -- Macadamia Nut Brownie. What a breakfast that would be ...