Friday, October 8, 2010

Bonefish Grill, Deptford

For Dad's birthday, and my last night in America on this trip, we went out for a pretty nice dinner. Bonefish Grill is up by the mall, just off the highway where Chichi's used to be (reminds me of one time when I went there with some people and one guy insisted on giving his name for the waiting list as 'Wild' because he knew how they announced open tables and wanted to hear them say "Wild party, your table is ready". He must have really liked the chimichangas and fried ice cream if he went to Chichi's enough to know that. Times were simpler 20 years ago, and we didn't know about good Mexican food in New Jersey.)

Uhhhhh, Bonefish Grill is a chain based in Florida with just over 150 outlets nationwide. I mention this up front because the spectacularly uninformed waitress told us there 5 or 6 of them (which is true, in New Jersey, but there are 50 or so in Florida, and they have branches from Georgia to Washington. No California.) You can tell from the exterior that it's a national-scale chain, but it's a sign of the times, marketing, operational competence, something, that they've got a concept like specializing in fresh fish. It works pretty well. Aside from that they specialize in drinks, with a bunch of martinis and mojitos and a wine list and beer list etc. The bread was good, served with a saucer of herby, cheesy flavored oil. The drinks...your Brooklyn boutique bartender would turn up his nose - they're just creative-sounding recipes with a lot of sweet elements. I left the flash turned on here. I was very embarrassed.

It's obvious that you can't eat in America like you do in Japan, quantity-wise. I was making an effort to order less and not eat everything in front of me, and I still ended up eating a LOT more everywhere than I usually do. Don't ask how I knew. Anyhoo, we just ordered main dishes, no starters or nuthin'. This is the daily special, Icelandic Wolffish. I've learned something fun - 'Icelandic' in this case is not the provenance of the fish. It's the company they buy it from. I grant you that it's an Icelandic company, but it's still funny. It's a good fish, something like cod in terms of size, color and flake. With all sorts of fancy toppings, you might wonder what they're covering up, but I think it was OK. This plating is picture-unfriendly. I didn't notice at the time, but it looks like a mess in retrospect. What it (and the next picture) remind me of is home cookin' - "I made these three things, and you're getting a little of them each on three sections of your plate."

Nothing is covered up on this trout, and when I say trout I mean trout because this is pretty much the whole guy, butterflied. I'd like to appreciate the delicate flavor of the fish, but I'll settle for the deep tastes of grilling, salt, butter and lemon that covered and smothered everything else. Quite enjoyable, in the way that artificial food is enjoyable - you know it's been engineered to taste terrific, and it's almost a philosophical or moral choice to say you don't want to enjoy it that way.

Hey, happy birthday Dad! I know it took me a long time to get this posted, but I know you'll read it too. Thanks for everything! Thanks for this coconut pie with rum sauce too, it was pretty good if huge and sweet and overpowering. The Key Lime Pie here (you can tell it was the end of the vacation and my dietary resistance was wearing down - I advocated ordering two desserts) was not as good by half as the one at Le Bus, but it was certainly bigger (by half?).

I don't know what people do for fun in America any more, but I bet this is a place a family goes for a fancy night out, or a couple leaving the kids at home in Pitman and going to the mall for Date Night. It's good for what it is.

Hahaha, Bonefish! Get it?
(856) 848-6261

That, my friends, brings to a close this trip to New Jersey. I hope you feel like you were there, at least a little. Some of you probably WERE there. On the last day, we took one more drive out to Mood's for another apple crush, and on the way stopped by this tractor dealer that I'd been jogging past every other day during my stay. They have a majestic display outside, don't they? Based on other signs around the property, I'm guessing that this is supposed to flaunt their environmentally-friendly or 'green' credentials. You'll agree that it's ironic they chose to do so with artificial green coloring that makes their fountain look like radioactive sewage (especially the swirling maelstrom at the bottom. However with the fountain, and the tractor, and the flag, I like to think of this as an art installation entitled "American Foreign Policy".

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