Earlier this month, Marie and I joined some friends from the Association of Food Bloggers to sample some of the standards on the menu at Boneheads, an Atlanta-based chain that specializes in grilled fish and chicken and a variety of sauces flavored with piri piri peppers. We also got a preview of the new brunch menu that their corporate chef, Laurel Elliot, has developed, and which is rolling out at Boneheads’ eight stores in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas beginning this month. Their newest Atlanta location, on Pharr Road in Buckhead, serves as the chain’s test kitchen and the brunch items are available there now, with the other stores picking it up very soon if they’ve not already.
Boneheads has gone through a very interesting history. It started as a single restaurant in Roswell in late 2005, and was possibly the only one of the old Raving Brands concepts that wasn’t a quiet facsimile of an existing restaurant. The original menu, and emphasis on the Mozambique piri piri pepper, was developed by Sean LupTon Smith. Today, he owns two former Boneheads stores in Atlanta that are now called Fishook Grille. Raving Brands transmogrified into Big Game Brands, and I think that it sold the concept to BH Acquisition, and there have been a few “are all these tiers of upper-level management absolutely necessary” shuffles over the last few years. Today, Ron Barber, a former franchisee himself, is the chairman of Boneheads, which exists on its own, outside of any Branding company. He’s still thinking big. Stores will be opening in Louisiana and in Arkansas later this year, with California coming in 2015 along with Pakistan, interestingly enough.
We started with some standards from Boneheads’ regular lunch and dinner menu, including fried shrimp, chicken tenders, grilled mahi-mahi, and some terrific zucchini along with an “Asian” slaw flavored with cilantro, and yellow rice. I thought the chicken was a little dry, but the seafood and the zucchini were very good, and the sauces turned them into something really special. The piri piri sauces come in a mild lemon and herb, medium, hot, and “XXX Hot.” Letting that chicken soak up some of the hot sauce revived it and turned it into a treat.
Among the brunch items that we tried were eggs Benedict served with fried catfish over a cake of grits with Hollandaise sauce, and an oh-my-goodness French toast made from brioche bread in a soup of whiskey-based syrup, and topped with a mountain of whipped cream. Both were very good; the French toast is the absolute definition of indulgence.
We enjoyed the evening and the food, and it was interesting to learn more about Boneheads. They have gone through quite a few changes in the ten years they’ve been around and hopefully this will be a renewed period of stability as they launch the brunch menu and their new locations. Plus, you can take bottles of this terrific sauce home with you. I’d love to see what we can make in the kitchen with this piri piri hot sauce sometime soon!
(As noted, this was a media event and our meal was complimentary. It’s our policy to always note when we’ve received our meal without charge. If you would like to invite us to your restaurant’s media events, please drop Grant a line at firstname.lastname@example.org .)
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