We’re used to casual dining in the East Valley, and with the recent opening of Bonefish Grill, we now have a “polished casual seafood restaurant,” which is how the creators of Bonefish describe their dining concept.
My mission: to determine what “polished casual” means and check out the food, too.
The Florida-based restaurant chain, which opened its first Arizona location in February on Superstition Springs Boulevard in east Mesa, serves dinner only and specializes in fresh fish grilled over an oak-burning grill with a selection of sauces that range from light (lemon butter sauce) to tangy with a bit of a bite (lime tomato garlic sauce).
We are early diners at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, and we aren’t alone.
The dining area is split into two spaces — tables and booths on the left; on the right, more booths and a spacious bar area where two flat-screen TVs show sports programs. The hostesses evenly place the dozen or so diners through the restaurant, which comfortably seats about 265, including 21 at the bar.
The decor is a blend of golden hardwood and glass, with interesting three-dimensional metal sculptures placed on walls in the dining room. The dining room itself is dimly lit, giving a sense of intimacy. Music blares (a bit too loudly) and makes it difficult to carry on a conversation.
Or hear our attentive server respond when asked what two sauces accompany our tasty crab cakes appetizer ($10.60), two thick crab cakes surrounded by, we find out later, a wasabi herb cream sauce and sriracha (pronounced see-RAH-cha) that, when mixed together, give just the right amount of “bite.”
Our other appetizer choice: flavorful bacon-wrapped sea scallops topped with a mango salsa chutney ($9.90) that I’d definitely order again.
The menu is eclectic, with 10 grilled fish entrees listed, although not all are available year-round. There are also saute and grilled specialties. We choose Atlantic salmon ($15.10), which is a bit underdone for my taste, and mahi-mahi topped with warm mango salsa ($17.40), which is grilled to perfection.
All entrees are served with a basket of warm fresh bread, and a Parmesan-pesto sauce mixed with olive oil that tastes more oil than Parmesan-pesto. Entrees are accompanied by a seasonal vegetable garnish (ours is a tasty squash) and a choice of sides: our first choice, garlic mashed potatoes, isn’t available, and when asked why, one of the roving hostesses smiles, apologizes and says something about the restaurant only being open a few days and they are dedicated to serving only quality food.
We’re talking mashed potatoes here. But we settle for the potatoes au gratin, which taste starchy with the cheese stringy. The broccoli stands out in the steamed vegetable medley.
As do the desserts. Our deep-dish Key lime pie ($5.50), made with a graham cracker and roasted pecan crust and topped with fresh whipped cream, offers just the right amount of tartness.
Not on the menu, but available the night we are there, is strawberry shortcake ($6.50), with a mound of fresh strawberries, cream anglaise and topped with 3 inches of whipped cream.
So what is “polished casual”? At Bonefish, it’s a dining experience where the food is good, the atmosphere friendly, and the resulting bill doesn’t melt your credit card.
Appetizer: Coconut crusted shrimp (six jumbo wild gulf shrimp served with tangy sweet dipping sauce), $8.20
Salad: Florida Cobb Salad (crisp chopped greens tossed with spicy jerk chicken, avocado, mango, tomatoes, Danish blue cheese, pine nuts and citrus herb vinaigrette), $9.90
Grilled fish: Sea scallops and gulf shrimp (served with fresh seasonal vegetable garnish and choice of side item — garlic mashed potatoes, potatoes au gratin, angel hair with marinara, island rice or steamed vegetable medley), $16.50
Saute: Pistachio Parmesan Crusted Rainbow Trout (sauteed and topped with artichokes and a lemon basic butter), $16.80
Grilled specialties: Lily’s Chicken (fire-roasted chicken topped with chevre goat cheese, wilted spinach, artichokes and a lemon basil sauce), $13.20
6538 E. Superstition Springs Blvd., Mesa
Hours: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday; 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 4 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
Prices: appetizers $8.90-$15.90; soups and salads, $5.50-$10.90; grilled fish, $15.10-$30; saute, $13.70-$17.40; grilled specialties, $13.70-19.90.
Info: (480) 981-3474 or bonefishgrill.com