Chain Restaurants 3

Bonefish Grill Coral Gables (a/k/a Fish-Farm Grill)

Frodnesor | Apr 5, 200806:25 AM

Tried the (relatively new) Bonefish Grill in Coral Gables for lunch earlier this week - my first visit to this new seafood chain.

I don't remember what was here before, though clearly it was something else. It looks somewhat dated and 70s-ish though there's a nice-looking, long bar and a space with a couple big high communal tables (where we sat with a large group).

I was somewhat baffled upon first looking at the menu, as I scanned it several times and, aside from some several seafood-based appetizers (all shellfish, we noted as one of our party is allergic to shellfish), couldn't find ... any fish. I see burgers, I see pastas ... ahh, up here in the right-hand corner, it says something about the wood-grilled fish specials. "Can we have the specials menu please?", we ask - there we go (an odd oversight by our waitstaff).

So, what are the "specials" today, the "finest fish and unique offerings from all over the world"? Atlantic salmon (farmed), Chilean sea bass (farmed and prone to illegal fishing), tilapia (farmed), a scallop and shrimp skewer (shrimp likely farmed, scallops surely not divers), and dorado (a/k/a mahi mahi - are they farming these now too???). Sheesh. Hands down the most unexciting (and unhealthy, given the issues with fish-farming) lineup I have ever seen in a seafood restaurant.

No options as far as prep (it's wood-grilled, or wood-grilled) but you can choose one of four sauces (lemon butter, mango salsa, chimichurri, asian). Also a choice of one of several sides (rice, asian slaw, vegetable "medley", etc.). Prices for the fish ranged mostly around $15 for lunch. We got a few apps for the table - a "bang bang" shrimp, a fried calamari, and a "Florida" cobb salad, and I got a dorado special with a topping of scallops & shrimp (note the incredible variety of ingredients).

The shrimp were yet another variation on the increasingly ubiquitous creamy spicy tempura shrimp thang, a little gummy-textured but not bad. The calamari were decently fried, came with 2 dipping sauces, a marinara which was overly sweet, and a "Thai sweet hot sauce" which was also sweet. Seems the chain restaurants have noticed that America has a bit of a sweet tooth, and is going to get us some sugar wherever it can. The Florida cobb salad was advertised as coming with jerk chicken (along with avocado, mango, blue cheese, pine nuts...), but I couldn't detect even a hint of jerk seasoning on the chicken.

We waited 30+ minutes for the apps to come out (we were a large group but had ordered only the 3 apps), and then literally no more than 2 minutes after the apps hit the table, our main courses started rolling out. Not exactly the best time management I've ever seen. The dorado was decent if unexciting, with a lemon butter that seemed to coat my mouth for about an hour afterwards. They had a little trouble getting the right plates to the right people at our table, though in fairness we were a big group, and all that farmed fish pretty much looks the same. The sea bass, which one of our group ordered, was distinguishable in that it was sliced wafer-thin (which would seem to eliminate one of the best qualities of the fish, its large flake). The asian slaw was OK, though little wonton crisps had been mixed into it and consequently had gotten semi-soggy. A little portion of a ratatouille-like veg prep also added to the plate was pretty good.

Nothing that I ate was actively bad, but nothing was particularly good either. I found the place just sort of depressing, soulless and uninspired, and the incredibly heavy reliance on farmed product is really disappointing.

One positive - the drinks menu had several specialty drinks, all priced around $8.

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