Happy Hour Review: The Bonefish Grill – Tustin Marketplace

The Happy Hour rotation had come full circle and once again it was my turn to find a suitable location for the gangs monthly Happy Hour venture. The heat of September was upon us so I tried to select a location that was somewhat close to home. This was easier said than done as we had exhausted all the nearby restaurants that fit our stringent requirements…..or so I thought.

I was still struggling with my selection when I realized I was almost out of Bourbon. This was entirely unacceptable so I grabbed my keys and headed straight for my liquor store of choice…Total Wines. After perusing the multitude of small batch bourbons I couldn’t afford…I bought a bottle of Bulleit and headed back to my truck. I’m not sure what made me look…perhaps a car horn or brake squeal…but as I put my key in the door my attention was drawn to the corner of the shopping center and there it was! The answer to my Happy Hour dilemma….The Bonefish Grill.

Armed with what I hoped was a perfect selection…I hurried home to do some research. After pouring a couple of fingers of bourbon…I fired up the computer and searched on “The Bonefish Grill”. Sure enough…they had a special $6 Happy Hour menu which looked promising and offered a dollar off draft beers till 6PM. Better yet…their signature dish, Bang Bang Shrimp, was on special every Wednesday (also for $6). I sent an email to the gang and scheduled our Happy Hour adventure for the following Wednesday afternoon.

As usual….we met at Pop’s before 4:00PM and headed out to the Tustin Marketplace. Pops was a little concerned about the selection however….“Can you even eat a bone fish? I mean how much meat can that bony thing offer up”??? After convincing my father that it was just the name of the restaurant and he didn’t have to eat any bone fish…he settled down and focused on the scenery. A few moments later Robert pulled into a handicapped parking space right in front of the entrance.

The gang always plans to arrive right at the start of Happy Hour so the place was pretty empty with only a few patrons at the bar staring at their smartphones. We selected a table not far from the kitchen and the bartender quickly greeted us, left Happy Hour menus and took our beer order. After wetting our whistle and consulting about the menu….we decided to order the Cape Cod Sliders, the Wagyu Beef Sliders and Crispy Au Gratin Bites to start.

We nursed our beer…chatted…and watched some Baseball highlights while we waited for our order. As it turns out….The Bonefish Grill is considered a scratch kitchen concept so everything is made fresh to order. It took a little longer but it was worth the wait. The Cod Sliders were freshly battered and deep fried perfectly. Both Robert and Pops both agreed the Wagyu Beef sliders were some of the best they ever tasted. The Au Gratin Bites were crispy little balls of potatoes, cheese, bacon and green onions deep fried in a panko batter. Served with an aioli dipping sauce…they were as good as they sound.

We waited to order the Bang Bang Shrimp after we were almost finished with our first batch of food and ready for our second round of beers. Considered their signature dish…the Bang Bang Shrimp are medium shelled shrimp….lightly fried and tossed in a sauce of mayo and chili garlic paste. Served in a bowl atop some shredded lettuce, they’re a hearty serving for one or an ample appetizer for several people. Pops and I enjoyed them but Robert doesn’t care for Mayo much so he begged off. When I glanced at the bar…I noticed many of those patrons who had been focused on their smartphones now had their noses in a bowl of Bang Bang Shrimp. A great deal for $6 on a Wednesday.

All in all…we were very pleased with our visit to the Bonefish Grill. As a Happy Hour location…they offered good quality and affordable prices which in our view is a winning combination. That quality no doubt applies to their regular menu and their Sunday brunch offering. In fact…The Bonefish Grill was just named the overall No. 1 casual dining chain in a study of almost 8,000 consumers by Market Force Information. Based out of Tampa…The Bonefish Grill is owned by Blooming Brands, parent company of Outback Steakhouse, Carrabbas Italian Grill and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse. Looks like I just found some new names for our future Happy Hour ventures!

Until next time….y’all take care!

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