07 February 2010

Eating the strip at the Harford Mall

Mrs. Micro finally landed a new job enabling her to cast of the horrible shell that is the corporate coffee biz so to celebrate we dined at a restaurant of her choice, Bonefish Grill. We picked up her best friend en route and were all in good spirits until we arrived and found the place utterly packed with an hour wait. On a Tuesday... in Bel Air... WTF?

Nonetheless we were determined to dine so we grabbed a few seats at the bar and ordered a round of drinks. We all opted for the signature white sangria after a recommendation from our server. I wish I had gotten a picture of this drink because it really was quite pretty. Unfortunately this concoction was cloyingly sweet, and as I've noted previously I prefer my sangria on the sweet side, so that really says something here. It contained the usual floaty fruits (lemon, lime, orange) that little imparted to no flavor. I did like the fact that they used sparkling wine but other than that I was pretty disappointed with the drink. The funny thing is the glass was clogged with lime wedges and mint and I couldn't taste either. I muddled the mint with my straw and still could barely taste it. I've been impressed with the quality of ingredients at Bonefish in the past, but I guess this was an exception.

For our next round I decided to stay in the girly-drink mode when I spotted the black cherry guava mojito. The girls opted for a glass of the Crusher "Wilson's Vineyard" Pinot Noir out of California/Clarksburg. This time I remembered to whip out my camera. Behold my mojito:

The first thing I noticed was the lime wedge that I would assume was meant for the edge of my glass considering the slit in it's side, was sitting on the top of my beverage. I don't know why but that put me off so I immediately removed it. Again, nothing but a cloyingly sweet one-note concoction. Is that guava I taste? Black cherry? It could've been any number of synthetic imitation fruit flavors. Like blue. Or red. 0/2 in the beverage department.

The saving grace was the pinot noir or as it came to be known by the end of the night: Bacon Wine. Yes, this wine tasted like liquefied bacon and that is in no way a bad thing. I made a mental note to pick some up the next time I make burgers or anything involving bacon at home. Mmmmm bacon wine.

We finally got seated roughly an hour later. I perused the new menu offerings and was almost swayed by the fancy-pants kobe burger and would've ordered it had we not had a dessert destination in mind (more on that to come). So I ordered my usual, the bang bang shrimp appetizer and the entree portion of the tuna sashimi.

I've ordered this dish many times and I've always praised Bonefish for the consistency of it's dishes. Unfortunately that wasn't the case here. As soon as the bang bang shrimp arrived I immediately noticed it was much less saucy than before. Also the sauce was less creamy, less addicting. It was more tart and one-note. While this appetizer was the reigning king of it's kind (similar offerings can be found at Ruby Tuesday's, P.F. Chang's, etc.) I fear this change has caused it to be dethroned by Tuesday's Thai Phoon Shrimp.

If it weren't for the semi-drunken state I was in, I would've immediately noticed the fact that my tuna was overcooked. But alas, I failed to notice and dove right in...

After my first chew I thought to myself "Why the hell is this so tough?" Then I looked down at my plate, "Oh, that's why. Damnit!"

If you've ever wondered what overcooked sashimi looks like, that's a prime example. Now before you yell at me, of course I know that normally sashimi is raw, but this is Bonefish's take on sashimi which usually has a very slight sear to it. That cooked edge completely ruined the usual buttery texture of this dish. Everything else was spot on, the spicy mayo, the great use of black and white sesame seeds, and of course the squiggle of sriracha. Actually now that I look at this picture the color of the spicy mayo looks a bit off as well, but I don't remember it tasting any different. It may have been due to the alcohol-induced feeding frenzy I was in. Anyway, I mark this down as another dish that didn't satisfy me as it has done countless times in the past. Bonefish on the decline? I fear it's a possibility, or maybe it was just an off night in the kitchen. It's hard to judge a place on one bad experience. This is honestly the first disappointing meal I've had there.

Our next destination was just a few doors down at Vaccaro's Italian Pastries. We were super excited ever since we learned they were opening a branch in Bel Air, we love the Little Italy location. Their eclairs could easily feed a family of 8.

But we weren't there for pastries, we were there for gelato!

Sorry about the awkward angle, I'm not really sure what I was thinking when I took that shot (read:drunk). After a few tastings I was full. I was extremely disappointed with my go-to flavor pistachio which tasted more like amaretto. This chick was scooping mounds of gelato for me to taste and laughing. Maybe she was trying to fill the tip cup. Maybe she liked the look of us and wanted to meet us in the stockroom after close for dark deeds, illegal in most states. Maybe she was stoned. Maybe all three? Probably. Anyway, I left it up to the Mrs. to decide and she went with half peanut butter fudge half espresso.

At most gelatorias I've been to they split the serving side by side, but unfortunately this was split top and bottom so you had to dig through the peanut butter fudge to get to the espresso. It was good, but nothing mind-blowing. I think I may have been spoiled by places like Grom and il laboratorio del gelato. That concluded our night of celebration and while the food maybe have been so-so our spirits were still high. I couldn't be happier for the Mrs. She deserves this job and so much more, I can't wait to see what doors this will open for her.

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theminx said...

I don't understand your surprise at Bonefish being crowded on a Tuesday. It's not like Bel Air has any restaurants to speak of apart from crappy national chains. It's a foodie wasteland!

Kyle said...

I guess I just haven't been out to dinner in Bel Air in a while. I've never had a wait like that on a weekday. I couldnt've said it better myself, Bel Air is certainly a foodie wasteland, but I am pretty excited about getting a Famous Dave's and I'm very curious how the Dark Horse Saloon will turn out.

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