Press & Media
BBQ goes vegan — the ultimate mixed marriage
FEASTING ON FITNESS BY ELLEN JAFFE JONES
DECEMBER 21, 2011
I was minding my own business doing a book signing at Geraldson’s Community Farm, the source of amazing organic produce off 75th Street in Bradenton, across from Robinson Preserve. A woman starts chatting with me as people often do. I’m trying to multi-task not messing up my handwriting and focusing on the message I’m printing. So she says, “Have you ever eaten at Mr. Bones on the island?”
“Yes,” I said, still looking down. “It was a while ago and they only had two things. But I was so surprised to see the words vegan outside a BBQ place. I ate the veggie burger and it was pretty good.”
She goes, “I’m the owner.” Ooops. I dropped my pen and looked up regretting that I didn’t give the burger an “A” rating. It actually was better than pretty good.
I ask her, Charlotte Mansur, the owner, to send me the whole story about how an Island BBQ place goes vegan. Talk about mixed marriages! This has gotta take the carrot cake. I had no idea this little gem was here.
“My husband and I were vegetarians for six years before we bought the restaurant in 1992. But, when you own a restaurant you really have to taste the food, mainly ribs in our case, so we converted back to eating meat.
“In the last few years we have seen momentum growing with our patrons to eat less meat, whether it is for political reasons, or strictly to feel better and live longer. Eating vegetarian is mainstream, and now many family members and friends are eating vegan.
“And yet… restaurants in this part of the country are lagging behind the tastes of the public. We look in vain on many menus for non-meat items and find only salads and pasta. This causes a problem for a lot of families where eating habits can vary widely. My brother-in-law became a vegan after surviving cancer, but the rest of the family did not, and this severely limits where they can eat out together. We often see teens and young adults unable to go out to eat with the family because they are vegan or vegetarian. It seemed our restaurant needed to pay better attention to those we were serving.
“A few months ago we were lucky enough to have Chef Craig Chasky come on board. After a bout with Lyme’s disease in the late 90s he nursed himself back to health through nutrition.
“Chasky worked at the Berkshire Co-Op Market Place, and is a graduate of Hyde Park Culinary Institute. Hewas surprised to find that Mr. Bones makes everything possible from scratch. This is exciting and fun for chefs like Chasky, who love to cook with fresh, seasonal ingredients.
“We serve about 600 pounds of rice per week. Almost every dish comes with some sort of rice, which we cook with organic, gluten-free tamari (no GMO).
“Our veggie burger is made with lentils and bonded together with quinoa and rolled oats. It’s got carrots, onions, and a bit of spicy heat.
“Potato leek soup, which is our rich interpretation of the fabled soup, seasoned with sea salt and white pepper, has been my personal favorite since the weather has cooled.
“General Moe’s watercress is sautéed watercress in an Asian ginger and garlic sauce, served over a bed of curried rice and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Meat eaters don’t even care that it’s vegan!
“Another favorite is the Cuban black beans and rice. These just prove you don’t need a meat broth to get a rich full flavored taste.
“We had a couple come in who were directed to us by a resort owner. He told them Mr. Bones was the only restaurant on the Island serving vegan food, and they thought it was a joke! They really didn’t believe it was true until they were handed a menu.
“It’s been satisfying for us to know that a whole family with diverse eating styles can eat under the same roof. I hope other restaurants on the Island recognize the need for extensive vegan and vegetarian menus to satisfy the growing numbers of sophisticated patrons out there.”
You can follow Island resident Ellen Jaffe Jones on her Facebook page and keep up with her just released book:,”Eat Vegan on $4 a Day,” or her website: www.vegcoach.com. She is also a nationally certified personal trainer and running coach. For training in a gym or private hire, contact Ellen at email@example.com or 941-704-1025.
Cook Without a Kitchen Blogspot, March 8, 2011
The Washington Times, December 2, 2010:
For really good barbeque, visit Mr. Bones Barbeque, a taste of true New Orleans-style barbeque in Florida. This eclectic restaurant with a Day of the Dead theme serves beer from a coffin and cooks with such impeccable sauces that the restaurant does not offer salt, pepper, ketchup or other additions.
The prominent sign in the dining room explains, “Our food is expertly prepared by New Orleans trained chefs. No improvement is needed.”
The menu highlights smoky, melt in your mouth ribs with a variety of sauces, including hot, honey glazed, and mandarin. The original secret Mr. Bones barbeque sauce is spectacular. It is smoky and tangy and sweet and savory slathered on ribs that fall off the bone. You can order chicken with any of the sauces, and there is also a beef plate with the original sauce.
The menu extends far beyond traditional barbeque fare, including Congo chicken, which has a spicy peanut sauce, an amazing chicken Tikka served with rice biryani of coconut, raisins, almonds, and a mango chutney, burritos, tortilla pie, and enormous half-pound burgers.
The varied menu has something for every appetite, but we strongly recommend the original barbeque ribs.
From The Mommy Insider, November 2, 2010:
We had dinner that night at Mr. Bones BBQ. If you’re looking for something fancy, keep looking. If you want something delicious, park the car at this place. I have to say, they served up the best ribs I have ever eaten. Ever. Really. I’m typically good after 2 or 3 ribs but in this case, I ate at least four times that much, right along with my five year old daughter who chowed down like I’ve never seen before. The food was that good. The atmosphere was even better. It’s eclectic, very funky—you even pick your drinks out of a coffin. And drink selection is tough because they have so many options. They offer more than barbecue ribs, like chicken, Indian, Mexican and vegetarian food, burgers, sandwiches, burritos and a variety of salads. But I’m telling you you’re missing out if you don’t get the ribs. ‘Nough said.
Mr. Bones BBQ Review, SRQ Magazine, August 2010
We don’t think it’s too effusive to say that Mr. Bones’ “Hot BBQ Sauce” is a little like swilling spiced rum on a black sand beach. The ribs are phenomenally smoky, maybe the smokiest we tasted on our trip around town. And alternate spins abound, especially Honey BBQ, which applies that unique clover-and-sugar candy flavor to the smoky base. Mandarin ribs are similarly sweet, and worth a try, but less unique than the first two. If pork’s not your thing, you can douse any quantity of chicken in the same sauce. We took a sampling of breasts and wings, which provide a cleaner canvas to paint that sauce on. But personally, we prefer the pork. The meat is fall-off-the-bone, literally. As in — if you’re passing one across the table — watch out! Some might slide right off (the five second rule, as always, applies).
As great as the meat is, Mr. Bones’ sides drew some real wows, both from our table and those around us. BBQ Baked Beans are infused with the dark syrupy blur of molasses. Candied Yams have hints of those mandarin oranges, even more pronouncedly than the Mandarin Ribs. Potato Salad and Coleslaw are more by-the-numbers, but executed a cut above the norm. Like the bug-eyed masks on the walls, and the siren beauty of the beaches, the food here has a way of haunting you.
Brian Hughes, SRQ Magazine