Bonefish Grill Staten Island
If I were a paid mystery shopper for Bloomin’ Brands
Inc. or a fake employee on Mystery Diners (that show is so staged, right?) I’d
have to report some underperformance at NYC’s first Bonefish Grill. One could
go as far as saying I’m a Bonefish aficionado (no one should go as far as
saying afishianado) since I’m unabashed about it being my favorite casual
dining chain. Sometimes it even gives me feelings. Staten Island’s attempt,
though, left me feeling that they weren’t quite following New Jersey’s model.
They do take reservations, unusual for a chain, and it’s
an amenity not fully advertised so it’s great for pissing off people who’ve been waiting close
to an hour for their beeper to go off while you get seated straightway (this is
how you induce envy in the suburbs).
So, with said reservations at 8:30pm on a Friday, intentionally
arrived early to scope out the bar scene. The restaurant, a former Carrabba’s
(there’s also no Olive Garden in S.I. which makes me wonder if the
Italian-American contingent won’t abide chains) was far less bustling than its
New Jersey counterparts. And while less crowded, it still felt understaffed. It
took 15 minutes to get a drink, we weren’t given the list of specials (I’m not
going to order a White Winter Cosmopolitan anyway, but you should offer) and I
was asked if I wanted the blue cheese olives in my “Three Olives”
Martini (quotes, all theirs) a not uncommon New York-ism where you order
something as described on the menu and then are asked what you want in it. So,
yes, I want the three blue cheese olives. Of interest, they were serving
Brooklyn Sorachi Ace and lager, a nod to NYC not found at Garden State
I started getting panicky (ok, not really) when the
bread and pesto dipping sauce didn’t automatically arrive after being seated and
I didn’t see evidence on anyone’s table. Once again, like the cheesey olives,
we were asked if we wanted bread instead of it arriving by default. Why do they
not understand that America is about excess? Would Red Lobster ask if you
wanted Cheddar Bay Biscuits? Of course not because the biscuits are the only
reason to dine at Red Lobster. Bonefish’s warm cibatta is no Cheddar Bay Biscuit,
but it’s part of the routine. The loaf eventually came, but naked on a plate
instead of swaddled in the usual white poly-blend napkin in a metal basket. Is
this approved by corporate?
The signature Bang Bang Shrimp arrived minutes after
ordering, suspiciously fast. And suspiciously soft.
I don’t go to Bonefish for pin-pricks of sauce or
tweezered micro-herbs artfully arranged on the plate, but I wouldn’t mind a
little symmetry. My Lobster Thermidor Dorado (a not bad mahi mahi filet smothered
in cream sauce, crab meat and lobster claws) is about to escape off the plate.
True to form, they did play moderately obscure
alternative songs (It was “Shellshock” that originally endeared me)
that now sound adult contemporary like Echo and the Bunnyman’s 1996 past its
prime, “Stormy Weather.”
On the way back to Brooklyn, a Cadillac exploded or I
don’t even know what and a flying hubcap shredded our tire. And then the flat
replacement had a hole. I can’t help but think that waiting two hours for AAA
to do something (they won’t rescue on the BQE, by the way; you must get your
car up an exit onto a service road unless you want to pay extra for the tow) in
teen temps (no surer way to sober up after a few Zombies) was a sure sign that
suburban chains are best left to the real suburbs, just as a Dallas BBQ would
make no sense in Westchester, a working theory that needed to be made concrete.
Go try some of that Times-approved Sri Lankan food, instead.
Bonefish Grill * 280 Marsh Ave., Staten Island, NY