Dining Out: Bone’s feels like an eatery in transition

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Why: In May, Bone’s became Bone’s BBQ & Burger Bar. Formerly known as a steak and chophouse, it opened with the debut of Battle Ground Village in 2009. The barbecue and burger bar idea, however, offers a more casual and family oriented dining experience. The formal and informal dining spaces, which were kept segregated, now accommodate everyone. A handsome, custom patio cover was built over the outside dining area that faces Rasmussen Boulevard. And the menu is now populated with traditional barbecue dishes and specialty burgers, alongside other Bone’s selections.

Atmosphere: Brown, black, and taupe color the restaurant in a subdued fashion. The unique ceiling lighting fixtures and pendant lights add a wisp of sparkle and a touch of warmth to the atmosphere.

Seating consists of booths around the perimeter and tables and chairs to fill in the open floor and bar area. Large windows surround much of the space and allow in ample amounts of natural light. A private upstairs banquet room will accommodate a large group. In the bar, a large-screen TV provides entertainment.

What I tried: I settled on the Bone’s burger with french fries. I also sampled the Caesar salad, seared beef tips, calamari, baked beans, and several barbecue items that included brisket, pulled pork, and ribs. One of my dining companions had the elk burger and onion rings, and for dessert we had crème brulée.

Our dinner was a mixed bag of highs and lows.

The beef tips were tender and served with mushrooms in what the menu denotes as a demiglace. However, the sauce had not been reduced enough to produce the proper consistency. It was instead, quite watery and lacked the rich flavor and brown color of a demiglace.

The calamari was battered and deep-fried, mostly cut in rings (instead of the typical tubes that often render a chewy result). Served with a chipotle aioli and a cocktail sauce for dipping, they were soft and pleasantly appetizing.

Of the burgers, the signature Bone’s burger was more appealing. It is made with caramelized onions, blue cheese, lettuce, tomato and bacon on a pub bun. The elk burger has smoked bacon and white cheddar cheese on a brioche bun — the toppings tasted somewhat mismatched to the elk. I thought the caramelized onions and blue cheese that were on the regular beef burger would have been a better match for the elk.

The barbecue selections were very tender and lean. Much of the smoky flavor on the items came from the sauce that was added just before serving. Unfortunately, they were only lukewarm. The baked beans were bland and also just lukewarm.

The Caesar salad was fresh and crisp, with just the right amount of dressing and crunchy croutons.

Onion rings at Bone’s are standard restaurant variety.

I wasn’t impressed with the french fries. The waitress talked them up when I decided to order them to accompany my burger — I was told they were seasoned with herbs and cheese, but they were basic, limp and tepid in temperature.

We ordered two crème brulée desserts to finish our meal. Although they were the same dessert, the inconsistencies between the two really summed up our experience at Bone’s. The caramelized sugar on one was thin and agreeably sweet, the other was thick and overdone to the point of surpassing the desired caramelized flavor; one was room temperature, the other was still chilled in some spots.

Menu highlights beyond what I tried: For the adventuresome, the kangaroo burger may sound appealing. The ahi burger, made with lettuce, pineapple, wasabi cream and sweet soy reduction on a sesame seed bun, is a popular choice.

Sides include fried pickles and collard greens.

The wild mushroom ravioli also sounded intriguing.

Other observations: The wait staff was friendly and tried very hard to appear polished, but pushing plates across the table and commenting on our private conversation were telltale signs of the lack thereof.

The atmosphere in the restaurant is a bit mismatched to the new idea, as was the dinnerware on the evening of my visit. Our entrees arrived on stoneware, in paper-lined baskets and on plastic plates. With three months having passed since the addition of the barbecue and burger bar, I thought that this would have been sorted out by now.

Overall, the dining experience was lackluster. Perhaps it will be a few more months before Bone’s new character will pay off with an appetizing return.

Cost: Barbecue items cost $5 to $15. Burgers and sandwiches are $6 to $11. House favorite selections are $15 to $20. Pasta is $11 to $17. Sides cost $3 to $8. Happy hour items start at $1.75 and top out at $12.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Happy hour is 3 to 6 p.m. and 8 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 3 to 6 p.m. and 8 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Telephone: 360-723-0810.

Where: 1207 S.E. Rasmussen Blvd., Suite 130, Battle Ground.

Website:www.bonessteak.com

Health score: Bone’s BBQ & Burger Bar received a score of 3 on April 19. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants that score 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.