During a recent ten-night trip, my family had the opportunity to travel through several states. Because we opted for standard hotel accommodations, we were left without the means to prepare meals and we did a lot of eating out. If you’ve been reading my blog long, you know that I am not a fast-food type of girl. When dining out with the whole gang, my preference is for casual, family-friendly restaurants that offer an upscale dining experience at an affordable price. Although I always love visiting one-of-a-kind, locally-owned restaurants, I’m happy to report that I’ve found a couple of chain restaurants that not only meet, but surpass my criteria. In fact, I consider these to be two of the best chain restaurants for families–hands down. When opting to dine in a chain, one of the perks is continuity–you can expect roughly the same level of service, menu prices and food quality from one location to the next. Such is the case with the two restaurants I’m featuring today: BRAVO! Cucina Italiana and Bonefish Grill. We recently visited the Huntsville, Alabama locations of each restaurant and came away looking very much forward to repeat visits sometime soon. The next time you are out with a hungry family, you would do yourself a favor to stop in at one of these.
BRAVO! Cucina Italiana
From the moment I stepped foot into the Huntsville location of BRAVO!, I knew I was in for a treat. The dining room features generously-spaced tables and soaring ceilings. The whole space bustles with energy, due in part to the open kitchen. Guests can watch as food is cooked to order and served up piping hot. The boisterous atmosphere is perfectly suited for everyday family meals or celebrations of special occasions. Better yet is that menu prices are super affordable. BRAVO! is tough to beat when it comes to serving quality meals at an affordable price point.
We opted to start with a couple of BRAVO’S most popular appetizers: Crispy Mozzarella Ravioli and Crispy Shrimp Napoli. Both were very tasty and I wouldn’t hesitate to order either again, but the shrimp stood out to me as being exceptionally good. The secret is in the sauce, which offered layers of flavors both tangy and creamy to compliment the fried shrimp.
I’m fairly certain my family could have easily emptied a second plate of the shrimp, but we opted instead to move on to the main meal before filling up. Choosing an entree was hard. The Italian menu offers several inspired dishes that had me wavering. Between the five us, we tried several menu items which gave us the chance to sample bites of lots of tasty dishes.
The Balsamic Glazed Chicken was a family favorite.
But then again, so was the Sausage Tortelloni.
And….the Chicken Scaloppini. Each dish was fresh and filling.
We also tried two specials that aren’t (yet!) on the regular menu. The first dish featured sweet peppers and roasted sausage tossed in an herbed tomato sauce over spaghettini.
The second was a vegetarian plate that packed a flavorful and filling punch with broccoli, tomatoes and pasta in a light and tangy sauce. If this were a regular menu item, I would order it again in a heartbeat.
Dessert at BRAVO! was every bit as mouthwatering as the savory dishes. We sampled the Dessert Trio which offered small portions of the Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee, Cannoli Crumble and Warm Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie. If you tell me that even the thought of that warm chocolate peanut butter brownie doesn’t make you salivate I will smile politely and nod but quietly to myself I’ll totally judge you for lying.
Still your hearts, friends, because there’s more. There’s this Warm Chocolate Cake filled with BRAVO’s take on “molten lava” and topped with vanilla bean gelato. Um. Yes please. I’ll take two.
Start to finish our dinner at BRAVO! was an A+ experience based on ambiance, food and service. I highly recommend you visit the location closest to you ASAP.
Bonefish Grill is another family-friendly restaurant with a great atmosphere. While the dining room is reserved and dimly lit, even families with kids will feel comfortable here. It’s one of those places that makes you feel like dinner is a special occasion. We visited on a Tuesday night so that we could try their Hooked- On-Tuesdays menu, which offers a three course meal for as little as $14.90. Yes, you read that right. You can get a three-course meal for under fifteen bucks at Bonefish Grill. Here’s a peek at the Hooked-On-Tuesdays menu.
Both Jayce and Jeff ordered off this menu but since my Bonefish Grill favorite (Chilean Sea Bass) dish was not included on the special menu, I did not.
For our first course, we opted for the Bonefish house salad. Normally, house salads are fairly underwhelming, but the Bonefish version includes kalamata olives, hearts of palm and a yummy citrus herb vinaigrette. The dressing alone makes this a no-brainer. I’ve experienced a whole lot of house salads and I can honestly say that Bonefish offers one of the best values around.
While the relaxing ambiance is enhanced by dim lighting, it doesn’t make for the greatest photos; please excuse the photo quality.
We all went our separate ways from there. Kennedy opted for the Blackened Baja Fish Tacos. Judging by the fact that she licked even her fingers clean, I think it’s safe to say they were a hit.
Jeff had the 6 oz. Ahi tuna (not pictured because he started eating before I could snap a photo!). Jayce had salmon with mango salsa.
I had the delicious and buttery Chilean Sea Bass with herb pesto sauce. That fish combined with those creamy, cheesy potatoes may not make for the most low-calorie choice, but indeed it is a yummy one. Another thing I love about Bonefish Grill is that they serve seasonal fresh vegetables with their wood-grilled fish. The vegetable during our September visit was roasted spaghetti squash.
Because it was vacation and all, we splurged on desserts. My tastes of the cheesecake, coconut pie and pumpkin crème brûlée were the perfect ending to a delightfully delicious meal.
I can’t ever seem to cook fish just right at home so I love that I can take the family to Bonefish Grill to satisfy our seafood cravings without breaking the bank. It’s a great restaurant choice not only for special occasions but also for an anything-but-ordinary dinner out.
**As guests of Bonefish Grill and BRAVO! Cucina Italiana, we enjoyed hosted meals during our visits. The thoughts I’m sharing with you in this (and every) post reflect my genuine opinions and fully represent my experience.**