Sometimes we don’t give chain restaurants enough love, but we should. Case in point, Bonefish Grill at the Boulevard Mall.
Gift card in hand for what’s known as the “Bloomin’ Brands” restaurants — Bonefish Grill, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Outback Steakhouse and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar — we visited on a mundane Tuesday night to celebrate another mundane birthday. (That’s what you do when you’d rather be counting backward.)
Prices for seafood on the regular menu can range from the mid to upper $20s, which made a birthday visit on Hooked on Tuesdays fortuitous, as a special Tuesday menu offers three course meals at different price points — $14.90, $17.90, $20.90 per person that include salad, entrée and dessert.
Entrées vary among the tiers offering a nice variety for different budgets. At $14.90 choose from cod piccata, a chicken teriyaki bowl or a 6-ounce sirloin steak. For $17.90, choose from a 6-ounce ahi tuna steak, a cold water lobster tail or 8-ounce Atlantic salmon.
Because it was a birthday, we went the $20.90 route. Entrée choices included grilled scallops and shrimp, a pecan Parmesan crusted rainbow trout or a 6-ounce filet mignon. All entrees include a choice of two sides — garlic mashed, potatoes au gratin, jasmine rice, French fries, steamed broccoli, French green beans or sautéed spinach. The chicken teriyaki bowl comes with fried rice.
Things couldn’t have started better as a highly addictive warm bread with olive oil dipping sauce arrived along with our scrumptious drinks (a sweet red sangria and Moscow mule).
Bonefish Grill also helpfully leaves a big glass bottle (that looks like an old milk bottle) full of water at each table.
We added an appetizer The Wagyu beef and ginger pot stickers with crispy onions and soy arrived after a short wait; we made quick work lapping up the delectable dumplings.
What surprised us about Hooked on Tuesday was the generous course sizes. Our salads — the Caesar and house — filled a larger plate. The house salad’s crisp romaine, grape tomatoes, hearts of palm and Kalamata olives were tossed in a delicate citrus herb vinaigrette applied with a judicious hand.
Entrees arrived at a nice pace giving our stomachs time to rest after the appetizers and salads.
The pecan Parmesan crusted rainbow trout was succulent, done with a simple lemon butter sauce and the added bonus of artichoke hearts. Garlicky mashed potatoes and crisp French green beans filled out the plate.
My entrée had a few minor missteps. Au gratin potatoes ran out due to the large unexpected Tuesday crowd, so I had the good but somewhat dry jasmine rice. The simple sautéed spinach was good, and served in a side dish so as not to weep all over the plate.
The tomatoes and the tang of lime juice I envisioned on the grilled scallops/shrimp were missing, but by then I had already eaten a nicely grilled shrimp. No biggie, it was still tasty. I just mixed the rice into the sauce and kept going. Other sauce choices include mango salsa, herb pesto or pan Asian sauce.
Stuffed, we forced ourselves to take a couple of bites of the full-sized desserts — a light, flourless macadamia nut brownie with ice cream and Jen’s Jamaican coconut pie with Meyer’s rum sauce. (Cheesecake was a third option). The leftovers came home.
Service was excellent and the ambiance was warm. The grand total for our night out (without tip) for two cocktails, appetizer, salads, entrée and dessert was $78.30. It would have been less had we selected from a lower tier. A pretty good bargain in our book, and one worth remembering for the next mundane birthday that comes along.
The Bonefish Grill
1247 Niagara Falls, Blvd. at the Boulevard Mall, Amherst
Hours: 4 to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 4 to 11:30 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Lunch is served Saturday, brunch on Sunday.
Specials: On the back of our specials menu was a Dine & Discover Dinner For Two special available for a limited time. Included for $55: Bang Bang Shrimp to share, choice from two special entrees (four seafood offered) and a dessert to share.
Happy hour: Starts daily at 4 p.m. featuring dollar off draft beers, $4 house wines, $5 select spirits, $5 martinis and cocktails, “Bar Bites” at $6 each. Bang Wednesday has $6 Bang Bang Shrimp. The bar is set up for dining.