Its been years since I ate at Fishbones in Delafield. I remember going to whatever bar was there before Fishbones when I was in college then heading out to the party island on Nagawicka to get shitfaced with friends. This time we were heading out for a much needed, kid-free date night. Oh how times have changed.
Fishbones has been sort of off my radar screen for a while as we prefer their second restaurant, Zin, just down the road a bit. We decided to revisit Fishbones and it was a mixed bag. On thing that was immediately apparent was that the place is still as popular as ever. Arriving at around 7pm we got the last table in the place which was bustling with activity. Loud Blues music was playing in the restaurant, which just added to the energy. It took a while for our server to acknowledge us and when we ordered our beers, it took a long time to get them. The slow response by our indifferent server would continue through the night. Speaking of beer, they have a decent tap selection, including a couple of their own beers that are contract brewed. I liked the Red but switched to Abita Amber, which tastes so much better on tap than in bottles.
I had a cup of the Junkyard gumbo and when it arrived I was kind of perplexed. There as a cup and then surrounding the cup on the plate was the rice. Then it hit me that this was genuis! Instead of a cup filled with 1/2 rice and 1/2 gumbo, as most places would serve, you got an entire up of their delicious, spicy gumbo and then could add rice as you ate it. I loved this serving style and I loved the gumbo. It featured nice chunks of chicken, andouille, and a decent amount of okra, which was used in lieu of roux to thicken it. It was on the spicy side, which I love, but if you are not a fan of heat, try the crawfish bisque, which was equally as impressive. It was the perfect consistency and had a noticible but not overpowering kick of spice and was loaded with crawfish and corn.
The entrees were a mixed bag. The house made Shrimp and Crawfish ravioli in and of themselves were very tasty. They were cooked to al dente perfection and the marscapone, spinach, shitake and seafood stuffing was tasty. Unfortunately the Chipotle Beurre Blanc sauce fell flat. There was barely a hint of chipotle and it suffered from a lack of any sort of acidity of complexity. A great Beurre Blanc should have a nice acidic tang from the reduced vinegar. The spinach chiffonade felt more like an afterthought than an integral component. The dish wasn’t bad it just could have been better. On the other hand the pan sauteed grouper was delicious and cooked perfectly (if there is one thing the folks at Zin and Fishbones always excel at, its cooking fish to perfection), The sauce on top of the giant piece of fish could have been an entree itself. A delicious creamy and slightly spicy Opelousas sauce was loaded with blackened oysters, calamari, crab and shrimp. It reminded me of a fish entree I had at Galatorie’s in New Orleans a few years back. There was a nice serving of dirty rice to sop up all of the sauce. There was so much food that I couldn’t finish this dish (it made a nice lunch the next day).
It took our server quite a while to come and check on how our meal was and each request for beer or water took an excruciatingly long time. The food pacing was perfect so maybe it was just the bar that was taking so long to fill drinks. Whether it was her fault or backups at the bar, it seems that a request for a couple of tap beers shouldn’t take this long. In general she just seemed woefully indifferent and had no personality whatsoever, which given the vibrant, energetic nature of this restaurant is pretty disappointing. The only other complaint was the obnoxious occupants at the table next to us. Hearing some blowhard blabber on and on about how great he is and his foul mouthed wife getting louder with each chocolate martini was hard to ignore. But I reminded myself that this is Lake Country and obnoxious, over-served idiots are simply impossible to avoid.
They offer a second menu at Fishbones too, its called Loco Bones and it contains some intriguing and creative Mexican-American options including ceviche, jerk quesidillas, Snapper Veracruz, and Tomatillo Roasted Pork Tenderloin. It seems odd that such an popular restaurant would roll out a whole separate menu serving different cuisine but given the track record of the food served at Zin and Fishbones, I am guessing the food from that menu will be pretty solid too.
1704 Milwaukee Street Delafield, WI 53018-2017
Last EatWisconsin Review: http://eatwisconsin.blogspot.com/2005/08/fishbones-review.html