Last month I had the opportunity to try a new local restaurant, Bonefish Grill. This nationwide franchise opened its doors in mid-November to its first Massachusetts site at the Shops at Wayside Commons in Burlington, MA.
When I received the invitation from Bonefish to attend a private dinner for me and one guest, I was excited because the invite was for the evening of 11/14. This was the day of our health fair at work, and I knew that I would be craving a dinner out with Tim where we could relax, celebrate with some wine, and recap the day’s events.
I will admit that I felt a little hesitant about actually liking a restaurant that has locations in 34 states. Tim and I are kind of food snobs, and typically we prefer restaurants that are unique to only one or a few locations as opposed to something that seems “chain” like. However, the minute I walked into the door of Bonefish Grill, I felt better about it. We were greeted with a warm welcome and seated in a spacious dining room with a big city bar feel.
My first priority was a celebratory drink for achieving such a great turnout at our health fair. I ordered a glass of the Hess “Allomi” Cabernet Sauvignon. This totally hit the spot.
Next we took a look at the appetizer offerings. We were torn between a few different items, but the imperial dip special won us over. I mean, how could we turn down a dip with all our favorite seafood items in it?
Before ordering our meals, we asked our waiter to tell us a bit more about the fish on the menu. Bonefish Grill is known for its market fresh fish and wood grilled specialties, but we wanted to know how the various locations all over the country ensure consistency with one other while maintaining freshness as well. We learned that only the grouper, salmon, and tuna are the same on every Bonefish menu, and even then they may differentiate a bit depending on the part of the country. The rest of the fish is hand-picked and grilled by a manager at each location. This prevents the need to have a giant frozen warehouse of frozen food like most other franchise restaurants.
After hearing that, we both decided to order seafood meals. I got the sea bass with mango salsa, and Tim opted for the salmon special topped with spinach, bacon, and gorgonzola cheese. We also both got spaghetti squash for our sides.
Our food was cooked perfectly, and I definitely savored every bite that I ate. We also got to try a second side dish aside from our spaghetti squash, so we decided to order the pumpkin ravioli off the seasonal menu options. I guess it was kind of weird to order pumpkin ravioli along with my sea bass, but because fall was/is coming to an end, I just had to try it. It was calling my name, okay?
I wasn’t able to finish all that food (it was a ton!), and I didn’t have a speck of room left in me for dessert, but the folks at Bonefish insisted we take something home. This flourless macadamia nut brownie was the perfect treat after my long fitness conference at Mania that same weekend.
Everything we ate was excellent, but I would say that what made our experience top-notch was our server. He was friendly, funny, attentive, and spot on with his recommendations throughout the night. Tim and I also enjoyed hearing about how Bonefish Grill was started (in St. Petersburg, Florida) and the story behind the unique fish themed artwork on the walls (it originated from a homeless man!). The art is another thing that differentiates between locations.
Our server was one of the corporate trainers and has likely moved on from Burlington, but he truly exceeded our expectations as a server. At work when I facilitate some of our new hire superior service trainings, I always encourage staff to think about an experience that really stands out in their mind as being great as opposed to just average or good. Doing this helps our newbies draw a parallel to the type of service our customers at work expect from them, and it gets them thinking how they can start applying some of their customer service skills. After my dinner experience at Bonefish Grill, I think I know what my new personal example is going to be from now on.
Readers, let’s chat. Have you ever eaten at a Bonefish Grill before?
Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this post, but Tim and I were both provided with free meals in exchange for writing this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.