It’s not often I feature a chain restaurant here, focusing instead on locally owned establishments. But Bonefish has long been a favorite of mine. When the good folks at Bonefish Grill asked if I would like to drop in to sample their Fall Crush menu, I jumped at the chance for a couple of reasons. First, the food is excellent at Bonefish. Second, I wanted to share tips with you on eating out at a chain restaurant when you have dietary restrictions.
If you’ve been a reader here for awhile, you’ll remember my take on Bonefish Grill’s Bang Bang Shrimp. I created Bang Bang-inspired tofu. That came about because of trips with girlfriends to Bonefish for dessert and cocktails. Several times when meeting for dessert, friends would order Bang Bang Shrimp instead of dessert. While they have shrimp, I have the gluten-free Macadamia Nut Brownie with raspberry sauce.
This brownie is very shareable. In fact, it’s probably too rich to eat on your own. Probably…or maybe not. Oh, forget it. Don’t bother trying to share it. You’ll want to eat it all. It’s warm, gooey and one of the richest desserts I’ve ever had. You know that dessert when you think you’ve had enough, you put the spoon down and then mere seconds later you are digging back in? That’s this brownie, except I never manage to put my spoon down. So good.
Oh, but back to dinner. I was invited here for dinner! My favorite fella joined me, so I’m going to share with you what he had to eat first. He eats gluten away from home and started off with warm ciabatta with house-made pesto.
For dinner, he ordered the Pumpkin Ravioli, which is part of the Fall Crush Menu. This is a full entree on the fall menu, served with swordfish. Since my fella doesn’t eat fish, he ordered it without the swordfish. It’s so nice that it is also available as a side dish, three plump pillows of pasta filled with pumpkin. Topped with feta, crispy sage and a browned butter sauce, this was his favorite of everything he sampled at dinner.
For my dinner, I chose the Florida Cobb Salad with avocado, mango, tomatoes and an herb vinaigrette that has a slightly spicy kick, perhaps from garlic. This salad was plentiful and would have been enough for dinner, but I also ordered an assortment of gluten-free side dishes to sample as well.
The sides I chose included Garlic Whipped Potatoes, French Green Beans and Wood-Grilled Broccolini. I could eat the Broccolini every single day. The flavor is buttery, smoky and sweet. The green beans were perfectly cooked, still with a good bit of crunch to them and the garlic whipped potatoes? Well, just divine. Every Sunday dinner should include these. Or lunch on a Wednesday. Really, these would be good with any meal in my book. Light, fluffy, perfect amount of garlic.
After eating all of that, we should have skipped dessert. But we just aren’t good at skipping dessert. So we had the brownie I mentioned earlier, along with the Pumpkin Creme Brulee, which is featured on the Fall Crush menu. I’ve mentioned here many times that creme brulee is my absolute favorite dessert. This one did not disappoint. A lovely sugar crust on top, light custard with a nice amount of pumpkin beneath the sugar. While I love pumpkin pie, I would gladly trade my Thanksgiving slice for Bonefish Grill’s Pumpkin Creme Brulee.
Each of the items on the Fall Crush menu has a suggested wine pairing. We elected to have cocktails instead. My fella had the Fresh Apple Martini, which includes fall apples soaked for 3 days in vodka with at touch of honey and sprinkle of cinnamon. Our server describe it as apple pie in a glass. I had Patron’s Perfect Cucumber Margarita. Patrol silver with fresh lime, English cucumber, a touch of St. Germain Elderflower liqueur and a salt and pepper rim. I love a peppery cocktail. Combined with the clean flavor of cucumber, this was a nice addition to our meal.
Now that I’ve told you all about our indulgences, I wanted to share with you some tips on safely dining out at a chain restaurant when you are gluten free.
1. Eat at an off time. Don’t go during the busy lunch or dinner rush. Going at an off-peak time allows the kitchen to focus on your meal more easily than when they are bombarded with many other orders. You might also receive rock star treatment from your server if they have no other tables to tend.
2. Choose a restaurant that has a dedicated gluten-free menu. Bonefish Grill has a nice selection of gluten-free choices on a separate menu. To me, this indicates an introductory level of knowledge, a good foundation. I feel better eating at chain restaurants that have a dedicated menu as a starting point.
3. Don’t hesitate to ask for a manager or to speak to the chef. If they refuse this, it’s probably best to skip this meal. The dinner featured above at Bonefish was exemplary, with the server noting on her first visit that I had the gluten-free menu. She even made gluten-free dessert recommendations as we finished our dinner. In this case, I didn’t feel like I needed to speak to a manager or the chef. But if there is any hesitation or if I feel unsure, I simply ask.
4. Reach out! Writers like me want to help you dine out safely. Search our blogs for restaurant recommendations. Right here on my blog, I have a Travel and Dining Index where I list the restaurants I have visited with a link to my post. Easy! It’s more than okay to reach out to folks like me and ask. And if we don’t know of a place to eat where you are headed, we may know of another writer in your area who does.
So there you have it. A lovely meal out at Bonefish Grill, safe for this gluten-free eater and her gluten-eating vegetarian fella. It’s not only possible but delectable to dine out together!
The Bonefish Grill featured in this post is located at 6334 N. Lucerne Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64151, 816.746.8179.
Johnna’s I Ate Here series is not intended as a restaurant review, rather a summary of Johnna’s experience dining out. You may or may not have a similar experience. Menu prices, items and ingredients featured were current at the time of writing. Please read the menu carefully and ask your server for assistance in ordering if you have dietary restrictions. It’s a good idea to call ahead and let the restaurant know of your food needs.
Full Disclosure: I was offered a gift card to visit Bonefish Grill and try the new Fall Crush menu. The gift card covered approximately 50% of the cost of dinner and gratuity. I was not asked nor required to write about my dining experience. As always, opinions expressed are my own.
robert ballard says
Nice Non-Review…;-) Never quite understood why you don’t do full reviews since you pretty much cover most items I would? Sounds like a great place. Wondered what the brown stuff was on the raviolis? I wonder how they keep the gluten stuff separated from the non gluten foods? Does John not like seafood or is it a dietary thing?
I’ve only eaten in KC twice… I was going to the Dragon and stopped in to get a bed and get a bite on the way out and found myself in a maze of freeway construction and ended up in what seemed to be a “Old Town” area in I think a Hilton.? I ate a some, I was told, famous seafood place just across the street. Southern style stuff. Not bad and had dinner with a nice lady who ate at the counter next to me and she noted my MINI jacket and had questions. We had a nice conversation and it was a pleasant break for my travels.
The drinks looked amazing… I haven’t had an apple martini since Scrubs went off the air… Any margarita works for me though most suck… too sweet! I like the fact that a lot of places actually employ real mixologists.
I hit KC on my way back and ended up at a Chili’s… the worst Chili’s I’ve ever been in but I had a great server.
There are a few reasons I don’t do full reviews. First, I prefer to write recommendations. Folks with dietary restrictions are looking for a recommendation of a place that is safe to eat. If I find that a restaurant doesn’t fit in that category, instead of writing a review, I choose to not write about it. I have two negative reviews on my site and don’t like the kind of attention they draw, nor do I find them helpful to folks who eat like me. Second, I follow food journalist ethics, which would require me to be anonymous, pay in full for my meals, make multiple visits and sample a wide variety of the menu. In this case, I was not anonymous, I did not pay in full and did not make multiple visits. Because I do a lot of food travel, making multiple visits rarely happens. The third reason: there is already a lot of negative written about restaurants. I prefer to have a shiny, happy take on the places I recommend. If folks want the negative, it’s out there. It’s just not going to be found on my site. 🙂 If I were to share a negative about Bonefish, it would be that the yellow cast of their lighting makes food photos tricky.
The brown crumbles were nuts in a browned butter sauce. John reports they were delicious. He doesn’t eat seafood at all. Bonefish does an excellent job of safely preparing gluten-free food, including the ticket printing out in the kitchen with a gluten-free notice so the staff are aware. Separate prep area and utensils even!
I’m not sure where you would have eaten in KC. I’m not well-versed in seafood places, but can’t think of anyplace famed for seafood here. I’m going to think on this one some more. You’ve got me puzzled!
robert ballard says
Though I never follow “the Rules” of reviewing I find it quite informative for folks to hear my 1st impressions of a eatery. I never slam a restaurant unless it’s really bad and I think most any review, good or bad, if done in a constructive and none abusive manner is good.
You know I love your non-reviews but for me I say what’s good and whats bad about the place as I don’t want anyone to go to a place and then write me saying..”Wow that place sucked, I could have saved a lot of money had you suggest it’s bad points.” But that just me… I’m not meant to be a Zagat… just Robert Ballard, food lover.
I looked at a map of the area near the Hilton in downtown KC but could not find the restaurant??? Maybe it went out of bizz? I think it was in an older building and it sort of had this southern sort of look.