SUN PHOTO/LIZA MORROW
Mr. Bones, located at 3007
Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach, is casual enough for
bathing suits and T-shirts but neat enough for
tropical shirts and sandals.
By Liza Morrow
sun staff writer
The atmosphere at Mr. Bones is casual enough for bathing suits and
T-shirts, and neat enough for unbuttoned Tommy Bahama shirts and
sandals. It is a cheerful quirky place to come in from the heat.
Its cheerful quirkiness is amplified by a coffin-shaped cooler of
beer at the entrance, whimsical carved masks hanging on the walls
and a skeleton and voodoo theme. Small wonder that the place bustles
and hums even on a weeknight and that on Fridays and Saturdays it
may be hard to get a table.
Prices are cheerful, too, as the average check works
out to just $15 or so. This will buy you truckloads of
food. The menu combinations are bold, the flavors never
boring, with the surprise offerings of chicken with provolone
cheese and Tibetan sauce, crawfish gumbo, vegetable burritos
and baby back ribs with lively homemade barbeque sauce.
It’ll be a couple bucks more if you order the baby
backs, which a lot of folks must ,since Mr. Bones sells
about 1,500 pounds of ribs a week. The first-rate ribs
come with a mopping of one of the restaurant's namesake
homemade sauces. The Mr. Bones sauce is an unusually
clear-flavored blending of tamarind with a classic barbeque
sauce base. You can order the ribs turbo charged and
the sauce will be spiked with cayenne. Or you could choose
the Mandarin ribs, which are braised in a Chinese orange
ginger sauce with a slight tropical tang. The Mongolian
ribs are braised in a faintly smoky and sweet plum sauce.
All the ribs are smoked first and every sauce is simple
Mr. Bones has mastered a style that flatters diners who
know something about food without making demands on their
tolerance for the unusual. Vibrant, fresh ingredients,
strong flavors and spice are the three entry requirements.
Where they come from is less important. Like the soft jazz
music floating from speakers, the food is top-20 hits in
the mildest way. Drawing on the flavors and ingredients
of the South, Asia, India and an occasional Tex-Mex influence,
the menu has tone and color, without committing to anything
in particular. Owner Charlotte Mansur put it simply: "We
cook exactly as we like to eat and can’t find anywhere
else. My husband, Eric Connors, and I bought this restaurant
15 years ago. It was our favorite place to eat and still
is. We kept the original menu full of barbeque and smoked
items and added some of my husbands dishes that he cooks
at home. I was a vegetarian for over eight years so we
have some wonderful veggie dishes. Hey, just because it
is vegetarian doesn’t mean it can’t be delicious." Proof
positive is the General Moe’s Watercress she served
me for lunch.