Monday, October 12, 2009

A Tale of Two Restaurants: Bonefish Grill and Red Lobster Review

Given the opportunity to review Bonefish Grill and Red Lobster, I leapt at the chance. I love seafood, but the opportunity to be able to afford time and money to go out for a night rarely presents itself. So, when MS&L, on behalf of Bonefish Grill contacted me to check out and compare the two restaurants, I took them up on it without a second thought.

These are my personal findings of the restaurants - presented in a scaled format and are wholly unbiased.

I will say, before heading into the review waters here, that I found the comparison of these two places to be a bit like apples and oranges; they're vastly different in their approach to both seafood and dining, but I will leave you to read and let you know that I will most definitely be back to both places in the very near future. I loved them both.

Scaling is 1 for Poor and 5 for Excellent so the total Perfect Score for any restaurant would be 25.

  • Parking -

    Bonefish Grill 5 - The parking is directly in front of the restaurant and we chose to go at a later time - 8:45 PM, so there were lots of convenient spaces open.

    Red Lobster 5 - Being on a busy corner, the parking for Red Lobster is primarily off to one side, so it can sometimes be difficult to find a close spot. That being said, we also dined later in the evening here and had no trouble finding a good spot.
  • Ambiance -

    Bonefish Grill 4 1/2 - The only thing keeping this from a 5 was the fact that my seat was facing the side door of the restaurant - which was facing the Drive-Thru at Wendy's and the lights from the cars passing through were glaring at times. I liked the booth, it was very roomy and comfortable and the wall hangings and polished look overall was very nice.

    Red Lobster 5 - The very definite nautical feel of the restaurant is something my companiion and I both enjoyed very much. The acoustics were good (we couldn't hear other conversations from our seat) and the lighting was just right.
  • Service -

    Bonefish Grill 4 1/2 - I will repeat this ad nauseum until restaurants listen up: I want to start, continue and finish with the same server - always. We had 5 different servers bring different parts of the meal to us and I find that very disturbing. I don't care if they want us to get our food on time - a single server should be able to do that no matter what. If your servers need that much help, then something needs to change. The servers we did have were very polite and our original server was more than professional - when she was there.

    Red Lobster 5 - At one point our dinner tray was brought out by a server that wasn't our own - I saw the girl carrying it look up at our server, who was across the room and shook his head at her, and then promptly set the tray down on the table adjacent to us. Two seconds later, our server was there and ready to do his job. He was perfect in every way - in fact, I haven't had that level of service from any restaurant in the past few years. It was a refreshing change and my companion and I both appreciated that.
  • Food -

    Bonefish Grill 4 1/2 - This was an easy 5, except for the fact that my companion's scallops were gritty and the side dishes were more of an afterthought than a dish. In fact, what should have been zucchini and tomatoes had no tomatoes whatsoever and I mistook the dish for a garnish. It was only after inspecting it that I realized it was the vegetable of the day.

    I started with the Bonefish House salad, which totally rocked. It was one of the best salads I have ever had; filled with pine nuts, Kalamata olives, hearts of palm and a divine citrus dressing - it was perfect. In fact, I'd go back just for the salad!

    We had a small loaf of bread delivered to the table with what the server called 'pesto'. It most definitely wasn't pesto, but rather closer to a bagna cauda. Either way, both the bread and the dip were delicious.

    My entree was the Ahi Tuna that was impeccably prepared to a medium doneness with a side of Jasmine rice, which was equally perfectly done and my companion had Sea Scallops and Shrimp, which were the proper doneness, but the scallops all still had some grit to them that was rather unpleasant. My companion didn't like the usual sides and asked for fries with gravy. He said the fries were terrific and he was overall a happy camper.

    We finished off with the Macadamia Nut Brownie and I have to tell you, that was the best restaurant dessert I have ever had, hands-down. It was perfectly warm and yet the ice cream wasn't melting at all. It was truly decadent from start to finish, but we only ordered one, and I'm glad we did because there was no way I'd have been able to eat one myself.

    Red Lobster 4 1/2 - I started off with a house salad here, too. I asked for the Caesar and it came piled with freshly grated Parmesan and plenty of croutons, but the dressing was less garlicky than should be for a Caesar.

    My entree was the Honey BBQ Grilled Chicken and Shrimp which came with garlic mashed potatoes and pico de gallo. The chicken was perfectly done, moist and delicious. The shrimp were excellent - they were done just right and the wood-grilled flavor put them over the top. The broccoli side was done to perfection and quite large for a side, as well.

    My companion ordered the Endless Shrimp in Teriyaki and Cajun flavors and he had 50 shrimp by the end of his meal! He didn't like the french fries here as much as at BG.

    We ended with Warm Apple Crumble à la Mode (which we shared) with coffee and it was another excellent ending to a great meal.
  • Pricing -

    Bonefish Grill 5
    Red Lobster 5

    Both restaurants had good pricing for value. Red Lobster had larger portions, but Bonefish made up for that with well-prepared dishes.

    Total for Bonefish Grill: 23.5 out of 25
    Total for Red Lobster: 24.5 out of 25

    Bottom line? They're both very worth the trip and I will surely be back for more great seafood at both restaurants.

    Gift Cards provided by Anna Murphy of MS&L. This is not a paid product endorsement.


    Thistlemoon said...

    I really enjoyed this review. My husband and I both recently re-discovered Red Lobster, and think that their wood grilled entrees are quite nice. I have only been to Bonefish once and got just several appetizers to share, but thought the apps were very good!

    whatsfordinner said...

    Hi Anne! I just stumbled upon your blog, and after reading through a few of your recent postings I found you are from Lehigh Valley! My boyfriend and I just moved FROM the Lehigh Valley to our first home in Quakertown. We started a cooking blog - What's For Dinner and are new to blogging. Your blog looks great and I'm now a follower (by the way, I prefer Bonefish!)

    Michelle from Taste As You Go said...

    I haven't been to the Bonefish Grill in the Lehigh Valley yet, but I visited their location out in Cleveland when it first opened a few years ago. My friend took me there for my going-away dinner and we both loved it! Maybe I should see if my boyfriend wants to remind me how good the food is... ;-)