Some people think of Happy Hour as a Friday night gig. Not the folks at Bonefish Grill. They have that Happy Hour vibe going 7 nights of the week, from 4:00 to 6:30, so you can drop by, have a few libations and some delicious small bites and still be home in time to catch the end of the news.
One thing we’ve learned to count on when choosing to spend Happy Hour at Bonefish Grill is their big city vibe focused on hand-crafted cocktails, market-fresh fish, wood-grilled sliders, and yummy desserts.
Always an innovator, the chefs at Bonefish Grill are the geniuses behind Bang-Bang Shrimp – a tangy appetizer that’s been copied more times than we can count. (There are more than a few Pinterest posts with copycat versions of Bonefish’s recipes.) Now the kitchen has introduced a few new bites, including their Crispy “Au Gratin” Tots that are sure to attract a few copycats. Think crispy tater tots with a creamy, cheesy, buttery center and crispy bits of bacon. Served with a chipotle-ranch sour cream sauce it makes me wonder – how come I didn’t think of that?
We dropped into Bonefish on a quiet Monday after work and saw the joint quickly fill up. That’s to be expected. We grabbed a booth in the bar and focused on the newest additions to the Bonefish Happy Hour menu. . . starting with their two versions of the popular “slider,” a Wagyu Beef Slider (2 sliders come to each plate) and crispy Alaskan Cod Sliders. One word for both . . . WOW!
Jill and I each took one Cod and one Wagyu Slider, which is how I’d recommend everyone share these two appetizers. The cod was Jill’s favorite . . . big, juicy chunks of crispy Alaskan Cod resting on a layer of lettuce and tomato with just the exact right amount of tarter sauce. The fish stayed hot and juicy, the crust crunching around the big juicy flakes of fish. They couldn’t have tasted any fresher if we’d lived in Anchorage! These two sliders are pretty much enough for most people’s dinner . . . and they only cost $6! Actually, all the Bar Bites on the Happy Hour menu are $6.00, even the Crispy Calamari and Mussels Josephine, two of my all time favorites.
The Wagyu Beef Sliders were every bit as juicy and flavorful as Wagyu beef promises to be, and the $6 price point makes them even more unbelievably delicious! Cooked to the ideal medium rare, the flavor of the wagyu beef didn’t need any accompaniment to improve on the taste. This is a big tasting burger delivered in two smaller sized portions. The aforementioned Crispy Au Gratin Tots were a great side to either of the sliders, though you’d just as easily enjoy them on their own.
Another bright spot on the new menu is the Ahi Tuna Poke, essentially a raw fish salad usually served as an appetizer in Hawaiian cuisine. Unlike ceviche, which relies on citrus to “cook” the fish, Poke is seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil and sweet onions, Bonefish’s version came with diced avocado, a side of wonton strips and a sprinkle of sesame seeds, and a divine ginger relish. Our server recommended we mix the poke in the glass and top the chips with them. Yum with a capital Y! The flavor is bright and decidedly Asian, a nice alternative to cold fish salad. Let me just say this . . . If I was Charlie tuna, I’d much rather end up in an Ahi Tuna Poke at Bonefish than a tuna salad. There aren’t many recipes that treat tuna with more respect than Poke. Just saying!
And what would Happy Hour be without a few cocktails? Just the thought makes me unhappy. We headed to the Martini section of Bonefish’s menu, Jill ordered the Ocean Trust Tropic Heat Martini, essentially vodka infused with pineapples, hand-muddled mango, lemon juice and a slice of jalapeno. The Ocean Trust part of the name isn’t Bonefish asking you to “trust them” on this drink, which certainly has a kick to it! It indicates that a portion of the proceeds from this particular drink helps support the Ocean Trust Foundation! Drink up! (Just not like a fish, OK?)
I had a Pomegranate & Sage Martini for my first cocktail. (Notice I said “first cocktail!” I’m no idiot!) This was a sweet mix of 100% pomegranate juice, lemon juice, vodka and fresh sage. Perhaps a little on the sweeter side than I’d normally order, I enjoyed this martini nonetheless. Maybe I’m just not as sweet as I need to be, but this was a nice change for me.
Pro tip: Monday is Martini night, all night, until May! (Read: get over to one of the two Bonefish Grill locations in Sarasota. There’s one at The Shoppes at University Center, as well as our regular haunt at 3971 S. Tamiami Trail!)
Finally, we were coerced (ok, lying . . . no one twisted our arms!) into sharing a Jen’s Jamaican Coconut Pie, which was served with a warm Myer’s Rum sauce and fresh whipped cream, which accented the moist chewy toasted coconut perfectly. This was another “lick the plate clean” dish!
Like the old saying goes…Happy Hour, Happy Life! (I may be paraphrasing a bit, it’s definitely true at Bonefish Grill.)