Family Dining: Bonefish Grill

Bonefish Grill offers an air of sophistication with the distinction of being more than obliging to little ones — a rare find for parents who’d like to swap the Chuck E. Cheese scene for something finer.

The restaurant is the perfect place to coax picky young eaters into the world of seafood. Sure, the chicken fingers and macaroni fare is still available, but the kids’ menu features popcorn shrimp, as well as smaller portions of salmon or tilapia grilled in mild spices. Our family was seated at a cozy, dimly lit booth adorned with white linen but topped with crisp white paper (always a relief for parents!).

Crayons and activity booklets were offered by our friendly and knowledgeable server alongside daily specials and an extensive wine list. We sipped soft drinks and enjoyed the hot bread basket, opting against the list of nine tempting appetizers to save room for a dessert with a widespread reputation.

For dinner, my husband enjoyed the Sir Will’s Fish and Chips, served tempura-style with a house-made tartar that had a distinct dill flavor. The menu’s signature grilled fish options, which include trout, grouper, tilapia, salmon, ahi, shrimp and sea scallops, offers patrons their choice of four sauce options including Warm Mango Salsa and an Italian-inspired Chimichurri. After floundering over sauce choices, I instead selected one of the specials: Spinach, Bacon and Melted Gorgonzola Atlantic Salmon. The interesting flavor combination proved to be excellent. The restaurant also offers an array of alternatives to the seafood theme, including steak, chicken marsala, pork chops and fettuccini. Our 3- and 5-year-old boys chose the salmon from the kids’ menu, opting for a side of fries over the veggies or pasta (big surprise!).

We were wise to look forward to the dessert menu. The decadent flourless macadamia nut brownie with raspberry sauce and vanilla ice cream lived up to its reputation. Rich and mammoth in size, we ended up sharing it. For a splash of summer during the winter season, try the key lime pie with a roasted pecan crust … but you might want to order it all for yourself.
The restaurant is somewhat of a pioneer in having food allergy-minded menus readily available — so if your family deals with celiac disease or lactose intolerance like mine does, you will be amazed at the options available.

The Chow Down
Bonefish Grill
10056 East Independence Blvd., Matthews; additional location at 7520 Pineville-Matthew Road, Charlotte

Dollar Deal: Items range from $5.99 to $21
Décor/Atmosphere: Sophisticated, yet casual
Kids’ Menu: $4.90 for chicken tenders, mac ‘n’ cheese, popcorn shrimp, meatballs, grilled chicken, salmon or tilapia. Sides include fries, seasonal veggies or pasta.
Healthy Kids Fare: Grilled fish and veggies
Amenities: High chairs and booster seats, plus clean diaper-changing stations in restrooms
Got Milk/Juice: Yes
Smoking/Non-Smoking: Smoke-free restaurant
Phone: 704-845-8001
Web site: www.bonefishgrill.com

Overall rating: 4 out of 5