I typically don't write about chains, and also don't frequent them that much, there is just something more special about a mom and pop eatery, retail, and knowing you are supporting the local economy than huge corporate giants that sometimes don't contribute to the local area(sometimes)...
Anyway, we decided on some eats, and Bonefish Grille was a place we hadn't been in a while(Bonefish was developed in the Tampa Bay area). The south tampa Bonefish off Henderson Blvd has literally no parking for the size of the restaurant, but luckily we found a spot right next to the front door after circling a few times when someone pulled out. They do offer valet.
Being told it was a 35 min wait was ok, we could also grab a table in the bar area...the place was redone, giving it more of a swanky uptown vibe, dim lighting, and 'Cafe del Mar' type lounge music in the background..so chic it has become. We found a few open chairs at one of the tables in the bar and started chatting with some others we knew at the same table, and decided to stay there to eat. This is where things go downhill..waaay downhill.
After about 10 minutes of sitting there, we were asked if we wanted a drink, drinks were brought over, but no menus, we had to ask for menus(everyone else at the tables in the bar were eating-not sure why they didn't think we wanted to also). So with menu's in hand, another 10 min goes by before the small, not so friendly woman server asks us for our choices, made a few recommendations, even said if we didn't like one of the choices, she would replace it with something else. Saucy Shrimp for apps, good and saucy with lots of feta cheese. Where is the bread?? A guy came over to ask how things were(didnt know he was a manager, looked more like a bartender, never gave his name or anything, and when we asked why no bread was brought out like to the other patrons, he simply stated "you have to ask now for bread, corporate is cutting back" - well maybe the server should ask us if we would like bread. So with fresh warm bread finally by our side, we were able to mop up that delicious sauce, and the oil/pesto that comes with the bread, while we waited, and waited, and waited some more......and waited, almost 35 minutes later only to be told by that manager guy again that a piece of fish broke on the grill, and they had to re-cook the meal...it took 35 min for someone to tell us that? He never once apologized, said it usually isn't this way, and offered us dessert(i'd like to get the meal first) And where in the world was our server, the short dark haired woman looked very busy, but not once coming by to tend to us...then our other friends at the table we met were telling us that service was really lacking this evening for them also.
Well, another 15 minutes, and one of the plates came out so hot, she had to hold the plate with an oven mit, and I understand why, that was the one sitting in the oven while the other fish entree was cooked. Not once was there even an apology, no one ever came by to see how the meals were, the manager guy(we found out his name was Brian, because when we asked for a manager, the server advised we already spoke with him) walked by us a few times, not even glancing over at us to check on us, the server never came back....the meal was just ok, I could tell the Salmon was sitting in the oven, it sat on top of maybe a Tablespoon of Au gratin potatoes(could they spare a little more than a dollop), and a tablespoon of some corn/edamame..very small side portions. The grouper again was just ok, and of course fish have bones, but this grouper had some major bones in it...true to the Bonefish name, but not something you want in a Fresh Grouper entree.
With dirty plates in front of us for another 10 minutes, I finally yelled for Brian when he walked by us for the 10th time, advising him that this was one of the most horrible dining experiences, and all he stated was "dont worry about the check" and walked away....and so did we!!
In economic times like these, and seeing so many businesses going under or failing, especially in the service industry, had Brian the manager and the server been more empathetic, personable, friendly, pro-active, etc., I might not have the bad taste in my mouth for this place as I do and probably will have for quite some time....word of mouth can go a long way.