HEARTY COMFORT FOOD TO FEAST ON
The folks at Bonefish Grill like to tout that from the moment you walk through their doors “you’ll know you’re in a restaurant like no other.” I don’t know about that. It’s great to have lofty ambitions but the proof is in the pudding, and at Bonefish Grill, with locations in Valencia and Tustin, the fare is all about hearty comfort cuisine and when it’s good it’s great; when it’s not, well, you may wish you were somewhere else.
During our recent weekend visit to the Valencia location, I was surprised to find a vibrant dinner scene. The vibe is laidback and comfortable. Like everything in “Awesometown”, the setting is in an oversized mall and I have to give the Bonefish Grill team props as the service was first rate.
I was also surprised to find a pretty decent cocktail program. They’re not rebuilding the handcrafted wheel but they served pretty solid drinks. We started easy with the Watermelon Martini, which was sweet, and everyone knows I don’t like sweet drinks, but it worked well. My only problem was that it went down too damn fast. So much so that I had to have two of them. Yeah, I know, first world problems.
We also had to try the Ultimate Infused Dirty Martini with Ketel One Citroen Vodka infused with olives for three full days and served ice cold in a frozen martini glass. Bonefish Grill boasts it’s “the best damn dirty martini ever!” I wouldn’t say that but it was damn good and dirty. This one was a winner.
The Ocean Trust Tropic Heat Martini with Absolut vodka house-infused with pineapples, freshly muddled mango, lemon juice and a thin slice of jalapeño was really nice but you can’t really have more than one. It’s worth noting that $1 is donated to Ocean Trust for each of these martinis that are sold so you’re drinking for a good cause.
I was a big fan of the starter items. Time spent at Bonefish Grill noshing on apps and drinking some fine cocktails makes for a good night out. A favorite item was the Bang Bang Shrimp—think crispy shrimp tossed in a creamy, spicy sauce.
The Lamb Lollipop Chops—three grilled lamb chops, lightly caramelized—are a must for any meat lover. This was some very flavorful cuts of meat.
We also enjoyed the Fresh Oysters. You can have them raw on the half shell or baked Rockefeller style. I say go half and half or just go Rockefeller but then again, I do love baked oysters.
The Classic Caesar Salad with house made garlic croutons was mediocre. I compare all Caesar salads to Dan Tana’s and this one fell well short. As did the Chilean Sea Bass, an absolute favorite dish of mine. This tasted bland and didn’t have much flavor. Sadly, the same can be said for the Pecan Parmesan Crusted Rainbow Trout with artichoke hearts, fresh basil and lemon butter. I was hoping the fish dishes would be excellent but they disappointed.
Fortunately, the Rib Eye Steak was solid. The meat is cooked in a wood-burning grill and the 13-oz cut was so savory. The sides were impressive, especially the sautéed spinach, White Truffle Mac + Cheese, and the Sweet Potato Mash. Needless to say, by the time we moved on to our entrees, we also moved on to wine. The wine selection was fair but it wasn’t too difficult to find a good selection to pair with our meal.
And do save room for dessert as the Macadamia Nut Brownie with flourless brownie, raspberry sauce, vanilla ice cream, and sprinkled with macadamia nuts was decadently delicious and worth all the extra calories.
If you find yourself in Valencia (or Tustin I suppose), Bonefish Grill is a good place to enjoy wonderful appetizers and cool cocktails. I think that’s the best way to go—overindulge on first rate small starter items, which are pretty filling on their own, and pair it with a fine libation. Sounds like a good time to me.
Bonefish Grill is located at 24201 Valencia Blvd., Suite 3210 and 3040 El Camino Real in Tustin.
Story by Jose Martinez
Photography Courtesy of Bonefish Grill