Restaurant Review: Bonefish Grill on Merritt Island is an Awesome Dining Experience
By Steve Erlanger // March 16, 2021
Specializes in Market-Fresh Seafood Cooked Over a Wood-Burning Grill
BREVARD COUNTY • MERRITT ISLAND, FLORIDA – This past year, for a lot of us, our usual dining out schedule has been curtailed and when we did go out, more times than not, we weren’t “wowed” like we used to be.
Bonefish Grill, which opened in Merritt Island at 795 E. Merritt Island Parkway at Merritt Square in November 2012, is a chain restaurant but with a twist. At each location, the manager has a fairly large say in what goes on at their location.
We were fortunate enough to dine at the Bonefish that has two of the most experienced restaurateurs in the business.
Upon our arrival in the Merritt Island location, we were greeted by Senior Manager Joel Gray and Culinary Manager Jarad Thornburgh, both with years of hands-on experience.
They make a very good team with each bringing their unique skills, talents and experience to the table.
Let me tell you that over the years, in different parts of the country and in Florida, we have eaten at many a Bonefish Grill and without exception, none have come close to the quality of the food that we were presented on this visit.
We were seated and immediately greeted by Brea, our server. Brea would turn out to be the nicest and most knowledgeable server we have ever experienced. More on that later.
Brea started us out with the standard Ciabatta Bread and Pesto Sauce. There was nothing standard about this starter. I know, you ask what could be so special about Ciabatta Bread and Pesto Sauce?
Let me remind you of what I mentioned earlier about the management team has a lot of leeway at their restaurants. The bread was good. A good Ciabatta bread is always good. The Pesto Sauce….that was incredible.
We have never tasted a Pesto Sauce with the unique flavors that enhanced the taste to this level. This was just the beginning of what we were about to experience.
It truly got to the level that we were almost giddy and we kept saying that it is so rare that when you take the first bite of something really good, the next bite and the next bite continue to get better. It was something that neither of us had ever experienced before.
Along with the bread and sauce, Brea suggested we try one of the seasonal cocktails, the Winter White Cosmo. Suggestion accepted! Wow….just wow. It was as refreshing as it could be. Slightly sweet, slightly tart, very cold and the perfect palette cleanser.
Already as happy as we have been in a long time at a restaurant, next came the appetizers. Having been at Bonefish Grill before my wife already knew what she was going to order. Something that we haven’t been able to find anywhere else, Bang Bang Shrimp.
As I’ve mentioned several times before, “been to Bonefish, never had Bang Bang like this.”
First of all, it was enough to feed both of us normally and we did take care to not fill up on the shrimp as we knew by now that we were in for some more wonderful surprises over the course of the next hour. It was tough leaving several of those fantastic-tasting little crispy guys in the bowl.
A very nice and tasty twist to these Bang Bang’s was the dip that Brea suggested that we get and put on the side. The spicy Asian sauce. It really wasn’t spicy but did compliment the shrimp very nicely.
Due to Brea’s suggestion, I chose the Imperial Dip. To quote their menu: a delicious blend of tender shrimp, lump crab, Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and served with the house-made tortilla chips.
This turned out to be everything as advertised. It was fresh, tasty and delicious when piled high on their freshly cooked chips.
Again, at Brea’s suggestion, we were introduced to one of their most called for cocktail specialties. The SMOKED OLD FASHIONED. May I say it again? Wow!
It is a very unique cocktail and tasted so much better than I expected. (sound familiar?) This drink was literally delivered to our table with a wine glass, upside down over the cocktail glass and full of smoke.
After letting the smoke ferment for a minute or two we released the remaining smoke and a wonderful cherry oak fragrance was released. The smoke had infused itself into the Woodford Reserve bourbon.
The touch of maple and Angostura bitters ran throughout the drink. All served over a Colossal ice cube. I’m not a bourbon guy but if it could taste this good every time I sure could be.
Another very satisfying piece of this marvelous dinner exploration.
Before we get to the main course, let me give Brea a big shout-out. This young lady was the most attentive and helpful server we have ever worked with.
This lady knew everything about this menu. When asked a question, there was no, “I’m not sure” or “I don’t know” or “let me get my boss.” She knew how everything is cooked, what it was topped with, what it went well with and the various ways it could be served. She was truly helpful and a pleasure to have to help us.
Me, being a Midwestern guy, just had to go with the Filet and Lobster tail. I know….you are not supposed to order steak at a seafood place and maybe next time I won’t but for now I just needed a good, old-fashioned piece of meat.
The few times this year that we have gone out to eat, I have been disappointed with the steak that was served to me. This was just what I needed. The steak arrived cooked to perfection, tender, juicy and with lots of flavors. The Lobster Tail was equally as delicious. Tender, moist and when dipped in the heated butter it was the perfect combination.
My wife chose a selection that always was one of her favorites but is very hard to find at most places these days, the Chilean Sea Bass, grilled and served with the Lemon Caper Butter sauce.
She was like a young girl at Christmas. She was so happy to once again be eating her favorite fish dinner. It was flavorful, tender, tasty and all of the other positive adjectives that could be applied.
You would think that by now we would be getting full, and we were, and usually, when you are full, the food starts to not taste as good. Not here. We ended up eating, what for us, would normally be 2-3 meals but as I have said, “everything tasted so good, bite after bite that we couldn’t stop.”
Somewhere in the middle of this feast, we were brought a cup of their Corn Chowder Soup. Let it be noted that neither of us are Corn Chowder fans. Obviously, that is because we had never had Bonefish Grill’s Corn Chowder Soup. This soup was just….delicious. I’m not sure what everyone else is doing wrong but Bonefish has got it right.
To top of this wonderful dinner adventure, we just had to give one of the dessert options a shot, no matter how full we were. Sometimes when you are a little full, a nice sweet treat can cheer up your belly.
We went for the Classic Cheesecake and it was a perfect choice. It was cool and very refreshing and very tasty, what else would we expect. The Melba Sauce and powered sugar gave just the right amount of sweetness to this beautiful, dinner-ending delicacy.
You can go to the Bonefish Grill website to see and review their everyday menu. They also have a special menu that is printed every day to take advantage of some inventory that they were able to acquire.
This menu will include the fish of the day, some daily specials and some daily beer and wine specials.
If you sign up for their “Dine Rewards” program you will get an email with the special daily menu items. Members get advanced notice, so if you want to be on the inside, sign up. You can sign up from your table at Bonefish. You will also be eligible for the cashback program, discount offers and more.
You can order online and schedule a delivery or curbside pick-up.
If you get tired of cooking and you are looking for someplace to order your family or friends a quality, well-balanced dinner at a rate that would rival the grocery store prices, then check out the Family Bundles menu.
These meals serve 4 to 5 people and are priced at $29.90, $39.90 and $49.90 and include main course, salad, signature side, cookies and fresh bread. Bonefish Grill also offers private dining for groups large and small. There is no fee to reserve the room.
Happy Hour is 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. every day and features these specials:
■ $5 House Wines: LaTerre Chardonnay, Sycamore Lane Merlot, and Sycamore Cabernet
■ $1 off Draft Beer: Bud light, Blue Moon, Samuel Adams Seasonal and our local brewery Bugnutty Brewing Company.
■ Discounted Well and Calls Liquor $5-$6
■ 10 percent off special for military personnel
The Merritt Island Bonefish Grill is located at 795 E. Merritt Island Parkway at Merritt Square – a beautiful location with indoor and outdoor seating and staff are all wearing masks.