By: Arts & Entertainment Editors Melissa Peng and Andrea Tam
Having opened May 15th at Pacific Commons, Boneheads is one of The Block’s newest additions. The Smoke Signal decided to the take the oppor-tuna-ty to try the seafood stop that boasts its signature piri piri chicken and grilled fish.
With a high ceiling and walls painted different shades of blue, Boneheads makes an effort to exude an oceanic theme. However, the powder blue and light mint walls appear muted, and the spacious interior comes off as empty and depressing. A large minimalistic rotating ceiling fan is pretty much the most original thing about the dull decor, which consists of cafeteria-like furnishings and a tall counter in the back with high chairs. The laid back music and abundance of tables allows it to accommodate large parties and makes it a nice place to relax in with friends. C+
Service is rapid, and dishes are served within minutes of ordering. The servers are attentive and come multiple times to the table to ask how the food is doing. A
Considering that most of the food is standard fare with no extraordinary seasoning, ingredients, or complexity in flavor, it is extremely overpriced. C-
We tried the Boneheads shrimp and calamari, both of which were promising starters. The shrimp is wonderfully crispy (think honey walnut shrimp), but its sauce falls flat with a vaguely spicy taste but no real punch. The calamari is nicely plated on a bed of cilantro slaw, with a small cup of sweet Thai chili sauce on the side. The calamari, thankfully is neither too rubbery nor too oily; it is fried to a satisfying crisp and delectably tasty.
Overall, the entrees at Boneheads are well-fried and filling but entirely unimpressive. Some of the most popular items, the tacos, are for the most part pleasantly and cohesively flavorful, with all the elements coming together for the perfect balance of sweet, savory, and creamy. They are, however, quite oily and of the three (fish, chicken, and shrimp) the excessively salty shrimp taco was the weakest.
Another strong item is the salmon entree with black bean and corn. The fish itself is bland and soft to the point of mushiness, but made for the perfect vessel for the black bean and corn salsa. The latter is a refreshingly light, complimentary combination and a welcome source of crunch.
Similarly, the soft, moist fried catfish entree pairs perfectly with the sweet and tangy pineapple salsa. Yet another enjoyable selection is the crispy fish and chips, a classic dish well-made. Although the soft and flaky fish lacks slightly in flavor, the more heavily seasoned fries compensate for the blandness.
The burgers and sandwiches, on the other hand, are nothing extraordinary. The “Catch of the Day” fried catfish sandwich stars a bland bun and bland fish. It looks drab, brown, and unappetizing and the only redeeming factor is the sauce. The rather unremarkable piri barbecue burger is at least boosted with pleasantly crunchy bacon, but the veggie burger disappoints with a sad and undercooked frozen patty.
All in all, Boneheads uses quality meat and ingredients but leaves much to be desired in terms of flavor. This might be because the restaurant has no identity around which to center its fare and instead tries to please everyone. Is it meant to be a seafood restaurant? American or Mediterranean-inspired? Why is half its menu chicken? We still don’t know the answers to these questions, and judging by the lackluster fare, we don’t think Boneheads does either.
By far Boneheads’ most popular sides are their rice and their fries. Lightly seasoned, the relatively thick-cut fries deliver on flavor without being overwhelming or too oily. Unfortunately, they’re more soft than they are crispy and you’d probably be better off at literally any fast food joint. The Boneheads seasoned rice is soft and fluffy but, like many of this restaurant’s offerings, ultimately bland, unsatisfying, and sadly reminiscent of cafeteria fare. Other sides include the very thick, virtually flavorless grilled yam and the refreshingly crunchy cilantro slaw. Rating: B-
The two desserts offered are fried oreos and honey glazed pineapple, both served with dollops of vanilla bean ice cream. Buried under a mess of fudge, caramel syrup, and ice cream, the fried oreos are by far the star of this establishment (and the emblem of American caloric luxury). They are small, but it’s hard to say no to what’s essentially an Oreo wrapped inside a donut. It is, however, pretty easy to say no to the pineapple dessert. If your instincts tell you that a syrupy-sweet pineapple slice and vanilla ice cream don’t make the best combination, then congratulations on having better judgment than the staff of the Smoke Signal. Upon the first few bites, the ice cream neutralizes the pineapple as it should, but very quickly the fruit slice’s overwhelming sweetness cuts through the vanilla bean and punches you in the tongue. We’d give the oreos two hearty thumbs up, and the pineapple an enormous red flag.