When it comes to consistently tasty food and great service, Bonefish Grill is a pretty solid choice. They offer lots of fresh seafood options in a semi-upscale, casual setting at a price that won’t break the bank. Last fall, we were invited to check out the newly renovated Jacksonville Beach location and to try their seasonal fall menu. We were not disappointed. The fall menu items were packed with flavor and were definitely reminiscent of the season.
Recently, we headed out to the Mandarin location to get a taste of Bonefish Grill’s new summer menu. Just like the Jax Beach location, the Bonefish Grill on San Jose Boulevard has recently undergone some renovations, which added more modern touches to the décor. As usual, the fish logo is emblazoned on surfaces throughout the space, yet the dining room remains cozy, clean, and tastefully done. There is a lot of thought, care, and attention to detail that has gone into the design of the space. The result is a sophisticated look and a warm, casual feel.
We enjoyed our dinner at the Mandarin location on a Saturday around 6 o’clock. It was immediately clear that this was THE place to be on this particular night. There was a long line of people waiting for a table. Despite having reservations ourselves, we also experienced a short wait before being seated. At one point, we heard the hostess advise someone that it would be a 75-minute wait for a table! I’m not sure if that is an indication that there may be a shortage of other good sit-down dinner restaurants in the area or if this Bonefish Grill really is that popular, but there were a lot of people who happily took their pager and headed off for their hour-long wait for dinner. So, I guess the Mandarin Bonefish Grill is doing something right. I will say, it seemed like everyone was in good spirits in spite of the wait, and the staff was doing a great job of directing people towards the open bar area and offering diners drinks while they waited.
Once we were settled at our table, we started off with drinks of our own. I went for the Fresh Strawberry Rosé Martini ($9.10) while, in a distinctly uncharacteristic move, my beer-loving hubby opted for the (very pink) Fresh Watermelon Martini ($9.40). And he actually really enjoyed it! His Fresh Watermelon Martini was light, tasty, and refreshing. My drink was fresh and fruity with its muddled berries and just a hint of floral flavor from the St. Germain elderflower liqueur. The fresh berry garnish was also a nice touch.
For our appetizer, we tried the Lobster Stuffed Shrimp ($10.90). The shrimp were plump, juicy, and overflowing with buttery lobster filling. The lemon butter sauce added a nice citrus accent, while the capers gave a touch of tang and saltiness to the dish. It was a great starter that left us wanting more.
For my entrée, I chose the Wild Sockeye Salmon special ($23.90). The wood-grilled salmon was a generous portion that was flavorful and perfectly prepared. It was topped with fresh sautéed spinach, blue cheese crumbles, and bacon. While the spinach and blue cheese added a lot of flavor and texture to the fish, it pains me to say this, but I felt like the bacon didn’t really need to be there. I know, bacon usually makes everything better, but this case was the exception. This particular bacon wasn’t quite as crispy as I would have liked and lacked the trademark saltiness and smokiness of really good bacon. So, it ended up not really adding any additional flavor or texture to the dish. Surprisingly, what I really enjoyed about my entrée were the sides. I went with the potatoes au gratin and the green beans. Both were really tasty and well-seasoned.
My husband chose the Fresh DayBoat Scallops ($22.90) for his entrée. The sushi-grade scallops were melt-in-your mouth delicious. The corn risotto was a surprise hit, with its creamy texture and slight sweetness. This dish was also topped with bacon, and once again, it seemed like it just didn’t belong. The bacon “crumbles” were far too big and really overpowered the delicate flavor and texture of the scallops. My husband ended up just picking the bacon off and enjoyed the dish a lot more without.
We finished up our meal with a classic summertime dessert – Fresh Strawberry Shortcake ($7.30). The portion size was generous, with more than enough to share. The strawberries were fresh and juicy. Instead of a typical cake, they were layered atop a slightly more savory shortbread biscuit that served as a nice subtle backdrop for the rest of the sweet touches in the dessert. The fresh whipped cream was especially rich and delightful.
Overall, our meal was great. Despite the short wait when we arrived and all the hustle and bustle by the front door while we waited, the service was good. Our server was knowledgeable, friendly, and attentive. Our food came out quickly even though the place was packed. We were impressed that things seemed to be running so smoothly even with the restaurant at full capacity. And as for the food itself, the summer menu seems to be well thought-out, with plenty of fresh, seasonal touches that are perfect for these warmer months. We would definitely recommend giving the summer menu a try before some of these tasty dishes and refreshing cocktails are switched out for more autumnal options. Just make sure to plan ahead and call for reservations – especially on the weekends. Otherwise, just enjoy some yummy beverages, good company, and a beautiful interior while you wait.
Note: From time to time we’re invited out to try a restaurant or to taste new menu items. This meal is usually comped, as this one was. We’re under no obligation to write a positive review or any review at all when we’re invited out to try a place. Every review you see on our site will be an honest review of the place whether or not the restaurant provided us with the meal at their cost.