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Red Lobster – Keeping it ®eal

Red Lobster – Keeping it ®eal
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  • Red Lobster – Keeping it ®eal

    Post #1 - July 27th, 2006, 12:18 pm
    Post #1 - July 27th, 2006, 12:18 pm Post #1 - July 27th, 2006, 12:18 pm
    Without a plan, or a yen, PIGMON and I set out last Saturday night in search of a culinary clue. Mile after mile, nothing seemed right, and when we reached the city limits bordering Lincolnwood, it seemed Renga-Tei was the call. But as we turned on to Touhy, a little beady, black eye caught mine. The Lobster’s snappy, red claw seemed to dare us to turn into the packed parking lot. Maybe we’re insecure enough that we couldn’t just keep driving…we would not be taunted by a cartoonish ocean scavenger—a corporate mascot, for fuck’s sake.

    Image
    instigator


    So we turned in, drove around a mall parking lot looking for a non-existent parking space. At the door, the lobster let out a tiny laugh when we forcefully declined the little black beeper that would let us know when our table was ready. Walking back to our car, we tried to justify our defeat with one rationalization after the next.

    Said us:

    “I won’t wait in line at Spacca Napoli, why would I wait at Red Lobster!?”
    “This was supposed to be ironic. A joke. If we wait in line, who's the joke?”

    Listening to ourselves, we were disgusted by our own airs. So once again, we walked back to the hostess stand, humbled, happy to accept the little black beeper, if they would accept us.

    ::

    Neither of us had been to a Red Lobster since the early eighties, and since I was about five years old, my recollection is a little hazy. Funny thing is, it didn’t seem like anything had changed since 1982—same bad music, same bad décor. But the place was packed with quite a diverse group of folks. Young, old, families, couples, ladies-night-out, singles-at-the-bar, birthday parties, Asian, Black, Hispanic, White—it was Saturday night, and Red Lobster is apparently a Lincolnwood hotspot.

    The coolest and most disturbing thing about Red Lobster is its die hard commitment to consistency. Absolutely every detail of our experience was hit at exactly the same note—middle C. I kind of went in hoping that I could sift through the menu hoping to find little above average treasures, but when the food arrived, everything tasted fine, nothing better or worse than anything else. Lobster, crab legs, stuffed flounder, clam strips, shrimp scampi, fried shrimp, Caesar salads, potatoes-baked and mashed, biscuits, and Martini’s for two with tax and tip was about $50.

    When Devon Seafood opened, and comparisons to Red Lobster were made, I thought it to be mild hyperbole, but it ain’t, its concept is dead ringer right down to the inclusion of patented processes* on the menu.

    The two variables that separate the three institutions are execution, service, and price. Though Devon might have started out with a better product, the execution was poor, therefore rendering the high price unjustified, and the service, good or bad, ultimately irrelevant. At Red Lobster the product tasted fresh, and was prepared simply. We felt like Red Lobster was a good value for what it was, and the service was fine, just like dinner, just like everything else at this place. So what am I trying to say…that I would recommend Red Lobster (a faceless, corporate chain) to Devon Seafood Grill (a closeted corporate, urban, high-end concept trying to pull off a high-end Red Lobster)?

    That’s right. As I see it, Red Lobster is trying to duplicate the fish house experience for the masses, while Devon Seafood grille is trying to fancy the fish house up into something that it is clearly not.

    *At Devon Seafood, Char Crust® Seals in the Juices. Red Lobster had Ameripure® oysters, $9.95/doz. Ameripure® is a horrible name that invokes all sorts of offensive connotations, plus at that price point, your skepticism can only deepen. If you want to know more about the oyster purification process, you can read about it here.
  • Post #2 - July 27th, 2006, 12:46 pm
    Post #2 - July 27th, 2006, 12:46 pm Post #2 - July 27th, 2006, 12:46 pm
    Nice to know. It has been at least 20 years since I was at a Red Lobster, and it was fine then, too. Just good, fresh seafood simply prepared. I had steamed crab legs with melted butter. Hardly haute, but hard to beat, if you were in the mood for a bunch of crab and butter. It sounds as though it's still reliably "good enough." Makes me want to go out for seafood tonight. Thanks.
  • Post #3 - July 27th, 2006, 3:06 pm
    Post #3 - July 27th, 2006, 3:06 pm Post #3 - July 27th, 2006, 3:06 pm
    Me three, in the "I would be caught dead in a Red Lobster" department--except, hopefully, not actually dead or anything.

    Nice description by the way, trixie-pea, of the whole irony/not-irony dynamic.
  • Post #4 - July 27th, 2006, 3:47 pm
    Post #4 - July 27th, 2006, 3:47 pm Post #4 - July 27th, 2006, 3:47 pm
    Right on -- while Red Lobster isn't our favorite seafood joint (that would be Davis Street), the Lincolnwood restaurant is a place we can go to with our 80-ish parents and be reasonably satisfied on the value scale. Even if the cheddar biscuits are horribly addictive and horribly bad for you.

    FYI, we moved to Dayton for a short stint in the late 70s for a job, and Red Lobster hadn't yet hit Chicago's north burbs. So our very first night in town we noted this fancy-looking freestanding seafood restaurant just a few blocks from our apartment complex and went there expecting a celebratory dinner, not a chain restaurant. Then again, as the then-headquarters city of Ponderosa steahouse (went there to work for their advertising agency), Dayton wasn't exactly a hotbed of fine or ethnic dining. I still remember the time our men's B'nai B'rith lodge tried to have a fundraising brunch at a local hotel with lox and bagels flown in from Chicago -- the hotel had never seen nova before and -- ta da -- heated it up in chafing dishes before we arrived!

    >>Brent
    "Yankee bean soup, cole slaw and tuna surprise."
  • Post #5 - July 27th, 2006, 8:40 pm
    Post #5 - July 27th, 2006, 8:40 pm Post #5 - July 27th, 2006, 8:40 pm
    I love lobster, and I will occasionally cook it at home.

    But recently, not wanting to cook and not wanting to spend $25-30/lb for the lobster like I would at one of the finer seafood restaurants, I ended up at Red Lobster. This was a great decision and saved me quite a bit. The lobster would not have been any better anywhere else -- hey, they just throw the stupid thing in a pot of water . . . it's not rocket science. It's not like the top seafood places are creating incredible lobster creations -- they're just boiling, steaming and/or grilling.

    In this case, there's something to be said for Red Lobster buying lobsters in volume and not charging an arm and a leg for them. Sure, you're losing out on ambiance, but you're saving a lot of dough.

    By the way, why did they get rid of hushpuppies??? Those things were great! :oops:
  • Post #6 - July 27th, 2006, 8:59 pm
    Post #6 - July 27th, 2006, 8:59 pm Post #6 - July 27th, 2006, 8:59 pm
    When trapped for business in landlocked middle America, particularly the South and Midwest, often fried catfish is the only "seafood" option. (I love catfish, but there's only so much you can eat.) That's when I eventually make it to a Red Lobster. RL has not achieved the kind of consistency that McDonald's or even places such as Chili's and Outback have. I've had some truly disgusting, way-less-than-fresh, food at RL, including in the Chicagoland area (Lombard, for one). I've also had some very surprisingly decent food there, or I wouldn't set foot in one.

    Indeed, the inconsistency in quality and kinds of food is what makes the place sort of interesting. In a new-to-you RL, it's almost like you are rolling the dice on a local spot. Not sure if a piece of grouper had ever made its way to Marion IL before the week it was the chalkboard special at RL a few years back. But there it was, a nice hunk of the real thing at a good price and simply prepared. Cheese biscuits and massive, stiff drinks are also on the plus side.

    I agree that the food achieves mediocrity most of the time. My bad experiences have been several and really bad. My especially good experiences have been fewer and not as extreme.

    Didn't the NYTimes do a serious review of the Times Square RL a while back and reach the same conclusion as Trixie?
  • Post #7 - July 27th, 2006, 9:16 pm
    Post #7 - July 27th, 2006, 9:16 pm Post #7 - July 27th, 2006, 9:16 pm
    I last went to a Red Lobster in 1991 (the one next to Lincolnwood Town Centre; is this where you ate, Trixie?) and remember little other than the fact that my dining companion, the ex-Mrs. JiLS, sheepishly ordered one of the two non-seafood offerings (some kind of shoe-leathery chicken breast concoction), while I ordered the Captain Ahab's Seafood-o-Rama Mega Fish Uber Platter. I also remember thinking it cost more than I thought it would, but it was O.K., really. Now, set the wayback machine to the mid-1970s, north side of Indianapolis, and while we had decent local seafood alternatives (e.g., Jakes on Pendleton Pike for takeout, the Cape Codder at 71st & Allisonville for dining in), Red Lobster opened up at 46th and Allisonville and with it, new horizons in pescatory pleasure. My family was one that regularly traveled to Florida and the Gulf coast, and took full advantage of the seafood on offer while there and while driving to and from there; we knew what we were missing in Indianapolis. And Red Lobster, at least 35 years ago, did a pretty darned good job of replicating that. Although we knew the seafood was all frozen and shipped out from some central warehouse, the place nevertheless was run like a real restaurant, and you definitely felt like you were getting a special treat to go there. One thing non-fishy I recall were the baked potatoes, which were encrusted in rock salt. You don't see that sort of touch too often. Maybe not a big deal, but a sign of caring, which Red Lobster actually sorta seemed to be doing back then. And maybe, to a somewhat lesser degree, still are?
    JiLS
  • Post #8 - July 27th, 2006, 9:20 pm
    Post #8 - July 27th, 2006, 9:20 pm Post #8 - July 27th, 2006, 9:20 pm
    Thanks everyone for keepin' it real.
  • Post #9 - July 27th, 2006, 9:28 pm
    Post #9 - July 27th, 2006, 9:28 pm Post #9 - July 27th, 2006, 9:28 pm
    Food for thought
    http://www.cdnn.info/news/article/a040928.html
  • Post #10 - July 27th, 2006, 10:59 pm
    Post #10 - July 27th, 2006, 10:59 pm Post #10 - July 27th, 2006, 10:59 pm
    It is an astonishing thing that, in my lifetime, the lobster has been transformed from poor-people's food, stuff you could hardly give away, to a gigantic, luxury industry. I can remember a place in Florida that, decades ago, was part of the push to promote lobster, and you could get all the lobster you could eat for about $5. They just brought out a huge platter of boiled lobsters and put nut crackers at each place and a bowl of melted butter between every two people. Oh boy -- if I had a time machine, I know where I'd go. But now, lobster is posh foodl. And it is being over-fished because, despite being a garbage-eater, it tastes really good. That's a long way to come in just a few decades.
  • Post #11 - July 28th, 2006, 5:36 am
    Post #11 - July 28th, 2006, 5:36 am Post #11 - July 28th, 2006, 5:36 am
    Cynthia wrote:It is an astonishing thing that, in my lifetime, the lobster has been transformed from poor-people's food, stuff you could hardly give away, to a gigantic, luxury industry. I can remember a place in Florida that, decades ago, was part of the push to promote lobster, and you could get all the lobster you could eat for about $5. They just brought out a huge platter of boiled lobsters and put nut crackers at each place and a bowl of melted butter between every two people. Oh boy -- if I had a time machine, I know where I'd go. But now, lobster is posh foodl. And it is being over-fished because, despite being a garbage-eater, it tastes really good. That's a long way to come in just a few decades.


    I was thinking you must be really old, Cynthia, to remember the time when "lobster" was not expensive and served to convicts, which I believe was the 19th century, but then I read the linked article and realized this referred to the Southern crayfish-type things, as opposed to Maine lobsters which have commanded a decent price throughout my lifetime - which goes back a ways into the last century.

    As for RL - you did miss one thing. Before going, always check for coupons :!: :!: That brings the price point even lower. Beyond that, I fear the most positive thing I can add is that I am a sucker for Cracker Barrel's reliably mediocre Country Ham and fried okra, though it has been quite a few years since I went, if not as long as the last time I entered a Red Lobster. Okay, I admit it - I prefer Long John Silver's to Red Lobster any day - the fish is fresher, cooked better and a better value. And I prefer the atmosphere, too.

    But it was a good report, Trixie.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #12 - July 28th, 2006, 9:25 am
    Post #12 - July 28th, 2006, 9:25 am Post #12 - July 28th, 2006, 9:25 am
    dicksond wrote:
    Cynthia wrote:It is an astonishing thing that, in my lifetime, the lobster has been transformed from poor-people's food, stuff you could hardly give away, to a gigantic, luxury industry. I can remember a place in Florida that, decades ago, was part of the push to promote lobster, and you could get all the lobster you could eat for about $5. ... That's a long way to come in just a few decades.


    I was thinking you must be really old, Cynthia, to remember the time when "lobster" was not expensive and served to convicts, which I believe was the 19th century.


    dicksond,

    I had the same reaction when I read Cynthia's post late last night... She must be much older than me or else from a region where lobster was abnormally cheap. My memories are that during the 1960's and 1970's lobster was an expensive item, a luxury item... proverbially so, even... surf and turf or even just a lobster was was thought of as a particularly ritzy thing to eat out in a restaurant.. And I grew up in New Jersey/New York, relatively close to where lobsters come from (closer than the Midwest, in any event).

    The tale of how lobster -- i.e., Maine lobster -- was once poor man's food, fertilizer even, is something I heard in the late 1990's and it was for me, as it was supposed to be for most people, rather surprising. Poking around the internet, I see indications that the original rise in value and opinion of lobster belongs to the late 19th century but there was a considerable drop in lobster prices during World War II; after that, however, availablility and marketing moved the item into the expensive category.

    In my own (not poor) family it was regarded as a very special item, eaten regularly only once a year, as part of our traditional Italian Christmas Eve seafood feast. Beyond that, maybe on some other special occasion. For us, the poorman's crustacean delicacy were our local Jersey or Long Island blue crabs, which we would buy or catch ourselves.

    Anyway, I just took a look at the link yet about the different species in southern waters and that may very well be the explanation of different perceptions here but, without trying to dispute directly what Cynthia says of her own experience, I feel certain that the big old Maine lobster was during the '60s and '70s a relatively expensive item and was viewed as something of a luxury by people in the Middle Atlantic region and that perception was clearly reflected at the national level in the media.

    Does RL, with its symbol of a Maine Lobster, mislead folks about what they actually serve as lobster?

    Now, I certainly do remember when squid cost almost nothing, even in a place like North Jersey, where the Italian population was large and a fair amount of the stuff was eaten. Since its transformation from disgusting ethnic food to ubiquitous appetizer/bar-food, the prices have gone through the roof and still regularly shock and dismay me.

    Antonius

    Two links that support my recollection:
    see bottom of this page
    this page contains interesting stuff about lobster but also on other kinds of seafood
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #13 - July 28th, 2006, 9:33 am
    Post #13 - July 28th, 2006, 9:33 am Post #13 - July 28th, 2006, 9:33 am
    I kind of remember a moment when lobster prices shot through the roof and my parents made a conscious decision to stop buying it or having it in restaurants. (I'm pretty sure they weren't feeding it to the kids at that point anyway.) But I don't think they were exactly cheap before, just that prices spiked higher at some point c. 1970. But who knows? It wasn't that long ago that chicken was a high-end item ("a chicken in every pot" was a political promise sort of like saying "a steak on every grill").

    The amusing (in a somewhat awful way) factoid about Maine lobsters was that a state (or colony or whatever) law was passed in the late 1700s ensuring that slaves and indentured servants couldn't be forced to eat it seven days a week. You had to feed them something else once in a while.

    P.S. I just looked at the first of Antonius' links and that triggered another memory. I think what happened around 1970 is that the big Maine lobsters disappeared entirely, having been overfished (sic) by that point; and for the first time (at least in Kansas) you started seeing South African lobsters of comparable size, which were much more expensive. I also remember that we still had abalone occasionally around that time, but it disappeared and became the $30/can specialty item it is today.

    P.P.S. And someone in my family must not have liked catfish all that much, because what they tended to catch and fry up was perch or crappie. Of course, the most common fish at that time was icthyias mrspaulsfishtickius.
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  • Post #14 - July 28th, 2006, 10:50 am
    Post #14 - July 28th, 2006, 10:50 am Post #14 - July 28th, 2006, 10:50 am
    dicksond wrote:I am a sucker for Cracker Barrel's reliably mediocre Country Ham and fried okra

    I'm so glad you said this. I was going to post that we love Cracker Barrel when we're on the road, and that I always have the spicy grilled catfish and fried okra, but I was afraid to.
  • Post #15 - July 28th, 2006, 11:44 am
    Post #15 - July 28th, 2006, 11:44 am Post #15 - July 28th, 2006, 11:44 am
    riddlemay wrote:
    dicksond wrote:I am a sucker for Cracker Barrel's reliably mediocre Country Ham and fried okra

    I'm so glad you said this. I was going to post that we love Cracker Barrel when we're on the road, and that I always have the spicy grilled catfish and fried okra, but I was afraid to.


    For me its the Country Fried steak and biscuits with apple butter.

    Flip
    "Beer is proof God loves us, and wants us to be Happy"
    -Ben Franklin-
  • Post #16 - July 28th, 2006, 1:29 pm
    Post #16 - July 28th, 2006, 1:29 pm Post #16 - July 28th, 2006, 1:29 pm
    It feels good to come out of the closet, doesn't it? Or maybe I should make that the pantry.
  • Post #17 - July 28th, 2006, 1:41 pm
    Post #17 - July 28th, 2006, 1:41 pm Post #17 - July 28th, 2006, 1:41 pm
    JeffB wrote: I've had some truly disgusting, way-less-than-fresh, food at RL, including in the Chicagoland area (Lombard, for one). I've also had some very surprisingly decent food there, or I wouldn't set foot in one.

    Indeed, the inconsistency in quality and kinds of food is what makes the place sort of interesting....
    I agree that the food achieves mediocrity most of the time. My bad experiences have been several and really bad. My especially good experiences have been fewer and not as extreme.


    My RL experiences are similar to JeffB's, but I've come to the opposite conclusion. If I can't have a reliably decent dinner [at a not terribly cheap price, mind you], I'll find something else to eat. If their standards of consistency were as high as McDonald's, I'd probably sneak into one every so often when they had a good special advertised. But, when I think of what they did one very sad dinner to some small, innocent lobsters, I'll never voluntarily set foot in one again. [The unhappy lobster experience was at the Cumberland Ave./Norridge outpost, for those of you keeping score. I'd had several perfectly adequate meals there before, but the last one was stale, overcooked, and WAY overpriced for what they put down in front of me.]

    Giovanna
    =o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=

    "Enjoy every sandwich."

    -Warren Zevon
  • Post #18 - July 28th, 2006, 2:30 pm
    Post #18 - July 28th, 2006, 2:30 pm Post #18 - July 28th, 2006, 2:30 pm
    my discover card gives me the option to get my "cash back" in the form of RL gift cards (they add a bonus on if I get them this way...). So I end up at RL way more than I'd like to admit.

    I still do it so rarely that I'll usually get lobster... they offer it at least two ways, and as a whole lobster or a number of lobster tail choices. one is a baked and the other is the traditional broiled. for some reason, they always try to recommend the "baked" method. i got it once (twice?) and found it to be way overcooked and tough. This method is slightly more user-friendly, since its mostly de-shelled already... so maybe they recommend it this way because they think people aren't capable, or just don't want to deal with it. but me, i say def. go for the real deal.

    what's really interesting to me is that i rarely see others around me ordering whole lobsters... its not really any more expensive than anything else on their menu. its reliable (how badly can you screw up boiling or steaming a lobster for X minutes?). its fresh--they have a tank in front to prove that. and hey, this is the red lobster, right?
  • Post #19 - July 28th, 2006, 3:01 pm
    Post #19 - July 28th, 2006, 3:01 pm Post #19 - July 28th, 2006, 3:01 pm
    Antonius wrote:
    dicksond wrote:I was thinking you must be really old, Cynthia, to remember the time when "lobster" was not expensive and served to convicts, which I believe was the 19th century.


    dicksond,

    I had the same reaction when I read Cynthia's post late last night... She must be much older than me or else from a region where lobster was abnormally cheap.

    Anyway, I just took a look at the link yet about the different species in southern waters and that may very well be the explanation of different perceptions here but, without trying to dispute directly what Cynthia says of her own experience, I feel certain that the big old Maine lobster was during the '60s and '70s a relatively expensive item and was viewed as something of a luxury by people in the Middle Atlantic region and that perception was clearly reflected at the national level in the media.


    No, I am not so ancient as all that -- and yes, I was talking about the southern lobster mentioned in the article. No one in my fairly frugal family was going to feed Maine lobster to a relatively little kid, which I was at the time of the lobster feed memory. And as noted, it was Florida, and people were in the early stages of figuring out that they might be able to get money for these warm-water lobsters, as well, if they could convince people to eat them. (Though my opinion of them as poor-people's food doesn't actually come from my own experience, but from my father's describing them as such, his having grown up in Florida and having had some experience of poverty as a child.) And while I know they are not the same as Maine lobsters, they were mighty good. (Actually, last year, in Key West, I had lobster Benedict -- homemade English muffin, thick lobster medallion grilled in butter, lots of hollandaise sauce -- and I still think spiny lobster tastes mighty good.)

    However, I'm still waiting for that trip to Maine that spoils me forever for warm-water lobster.
  • Post #20 - July 28th, 2006, 7:13 pm
    Post #20 - July 28th, 2006, 7:13 pm Post #20 - July 28th, 2006, 7:13 pm
    Mike G wrote:I kind of remember a moment when lobster prices shot through the roof and my parents made a conscious decision to stop buying it or having it in restaurants. (I'm pretty sure they weren't feeding it to the kids at that point anyway.) But I don't think they were exactly cheap before, just that prices spiked higher at some point c. 1970. But who knows? It wasn't that long ago that chicken was a high-end item ("a chicken in every pot" was a political promise sort of like saying "a steak on every grill").


    MikeG, stop me if you heard this one, but when I was a kid on a trip to exotic Detroit, I remember having "mock chicken legs," which consisted of what, at the time, was mysterious meat wrapped around a pointy stick like the one they put in an Affy Tapple. What this meat was was veal, at the time less costly than chicken. It was pretty good, but odd; it seemed, kind of a make-believe food, a prototypical McRib.

    Trixie, what a fun post...thanks.

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #21 - July 29th, 2006, 9:16 am
    Post #21 - July 29th, 2006, 9:16 am Post #21 - July 29th, 2006, 9:16 am
    Red Lobster is Sparky's favorite restaurant outside of the House of Mice and Pizza (like Voldemort, we dare not speak its name.)

    Though our experience at the Lincolnwood branch has been similar (and the waitstaff fawns over children in a very nice way,) the same cannot be said for the satellite outside of Gurnee Mills. Everything we ordered was completely submerged in butter, salty enough to pickle your tongue, and cooked to a state of old-shoe-leather. Even the salt-baked potatoes had been smeared with butter until the skin was soggy. Ugh.

    Interestingly, we've also eaten at one in Dayton, OH, where my in-laws live; a slightly better experience but things still way too salty - and I love salt.

    And the last time, though I can't say what posessed us, we tried the oysters. Basically, "Ameripure" is code for dead, lightly cooked, chilled oyster. A bacterial infection is preferable.
  • Post #22 - July 30th, 2006, 1:59 pm
    Post #22 - July 30th, 2006, 1:59 pm Post #22 - July 30th, 2006, 1:59 pm
    Mhays wrote:Though our experience at the Lincolnwood branch has been similar (and the waitstaff fawns over children in a very nice way,) the same cannot be said for the satellite outside of Gurnee Mills. Everything we ordered was completely submerged in butter, salty enough to pickle your tongue, and cooked to a state of old-shoe-leather. Even the salt-baked potatoes had been smeared with butter until the skin was soggy. Ugh.

    Interestingly, we've also eaten at one in Dayton, OH, where my in-laws live; a slightly better experience but things still way too salty - and I love salt.


    As is the one on Rt 130 in Delran (or maybe it's Cinnaminson, there) NJ. SOOOOO salty :(
    Leek

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  • Post #23 - August 9th, 2006, 10:03 pm
    Post #23 - August 9th, 2006, 10:03 pm Post #23 - August 9th, 2006, 10:03 pm
    Motivated by this thread, I encouraged my mom in her interest in Red Lobster when I was visiting her in Michigan this last weekend. We opted for one of the current specials -- New England dinner -- which brought us a small but succulent and perfectly cooked lobster tail and a whole bunch of shrimp, some (the better of the two shrimp dishes) on skewers and grilled, the other in a garlic cream sauce. The garlic cream sauce was surprisingly unexciting, though not unpleasant, but all the seafood, as well as the mound of white/wild rice blend on which it was served, were great. Not four-star restaurant great, but perfectly cooked and very tasty, and the price made it even better. And the biscuits were lovely, too -- warm from the oven, buttery, and flavorful -- no butter needed (and none served).

    So at least the Red Lobster in Farmington Hills, MI, is living up to the fond memory I had from my last visit (which was in 1980).
  • Post #24 - August 10th, 2006, 8:41 am
    Post #24 - August 10th, 2006, 8:41 am Post #24 - August 10th, 2006, 8:41 am
    Cynthia wrote:...and I still think spiny lobster tastes mighty good.)

    However, I'm still waiting for that trip to Maine that spoils me forever for warm-water lobster.


    I have nothing against spiny lobster or whatever the southern variety is properly called. It is a fine food, indeed, different from Maine Lobster but excellent in its own right. I suppose the fact that both are sold as Lobster invites comparison and thus statements that one is better, but I will happily eat either.

    Interesting the legs this RL thread has. Crab legs :?: :wink: Making me hungry.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #25 - August 11th, 2006, 4:07 pm
    Post #25 - August 11th, 2006, 4:07 pm Post #25 - August 11th, 2006, 4:07 pm
    I was in a Red Lobster in Minneapolis, a number of years ago during a convention trip.

    RL was always one of my parents' favorite destinations in the Houston, TX area (they would go eat dinner early so they could get the luncheon prices).

    All-of-a-sudden curious, I inquired of the young, Swedish-descendent-looking hostess:

    "Hey! Where ARE the corporate headquarters of Red Lobster, anyway?"

    She disappeared briefly, obviously to consult the manager.

    When she returned, she proudly and triumphantly answered:

    "Or-LAWN-doh!"

    I remember the meal that night tasted especially exotic.

    Cheers,
    Wade

    P.S. I lived in NE and SE Florida in the '80s, and I still awake, drooling, with dreams of fresh-caught spiny lobster tails priced below ground beef.
    "Remember the Alamo? I do, with the very last swallow."
  • Post #26 - August 16th, 2006, 8:16 pm
    Post #26 - August 16th, 2006, 8:16 pm Post #26 - August 16th, 2006, 8:16 pm
    I've gotten roped into going to RL at least a couple times a year for the past several years when I'm in St. Louis visiting relatives. What I've noticed is that it seems they ditched the fresh fish idea about 5 years ago. It used to be that they had a chalkboard, like other seafood places (Davis St. comes to mind), that advertised market prices for fresh fish they had on hand.

    I haven't seen this board at any of their locations for a while. I'm guessing that the quest for consistency led them to want to just stick to what's on the menu; the same at every location. Seems to be all farm raised fish like Salmon, Tilapia, etc.

    -scott
  • Post #27 - August 16th, 2006, 8:30 pm
    Post #27 - August 16th, 2006, 8:30 pm Post #27 - August 16th, 2006, 8:30 pm
    sstaley wrote:I've gotten roped into going to RL at least a couple times a year for the past several years when I'm in St. Louis visiting relatives. What I've noticed is that it seems they ditched the fresh fish idea about 5 years ago. It used to be that they had a chalkboard, like other seafood places (Davis St. comes to mind), that advertised market prices for fresh fish they had on hand.

    I haven't seen this board at any of their locations for a while. I'm guessing that the quest for consistency led them to want to just stick to what's on the menu; the same at every location. Seems to be all farm raised fish like Salmon, Tilapia, etc.

    -scott


    You may very well be right, but it seems like a major marketing misstep to not keep the chalk board up and running and suggesting that, just like higher end fish places, RL has a "fresh catch" that just came in and that you really ought to try.

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #28 - August 16th, 2006, 8:59 pm
    Post #28 - August 16th, 2006, 8:59 pm Post #28 - August 16th, 2006, 8:59 pm
    I remember looking for the chalkboard on one of my last visits and I did spot one that was blank and looked like it hadn't been used in a long time. It seemed to blend right in with the other nautical themed decor found in lots of seafood joints, but having it's own special irony. Kind of like, "well we've got an anchor on the wall and some giant ropes and even a chalkboard like a seafood place might have".

    Buttery crab legs and Sam Adams is a combo that I have there that is really pretty tastsy.
    -scott
  • Post #29 - August 17th, 2006, 7:40 pm
    Post #29 - August 17th, 2006, 7:40 pm Post #29 - August 17th, 2006, 7:40 pm
    Last night we took my godson (10) and his grandmother to the Red Lobster in Oak Lawn at 95th and Southwest Highway. It turned out to be the perfect choice. Besides everybody enjoying what they ate, the kid was fascinated by the crab legs and lobster tail on my plate, the likes of which he'd never encountered. I even made the supreme sacrifice and gave him a crab leg, which he loved. And the gumbo I had as a starter wouldn't have been completely embarrassed to be found in New Orleans.

    None of that is so worthy of comment, but something else, I thought, was. This was the second Red Lobster I've been to within the last year which was located in a mostly white area yet whose clientele was predominantly (like 90%) black. (The other was in Owings Mills, MD.) Has anyone else observed this phenomenon at other RL locations in mostly white areas? I hope no one will accuse me of "reverse racism" when I say that the presence of a clientele consisting primarily of black couples and families was something that raised my hopes that the meal we were about to have would be good--hopes which were realized on both occasions.
  • Post #30 - August 17th, 2006, 9:01 pm
    Post #30 - August 17th, 2006, 9:01 pm Post #30 - August 17th, 2006, 9:01 pm
    Wow - Im amazed here. Do you guys really like Red Lobster this much???

    Besides the god awful blinding fluorecent ambience, I find the food and service pretty awful. The shrimp, lobsters, chedder rolls, everything tastes the exact same - it must be the artificial butter that they use or something. Tell me how can each one of their shrimp be exactly - and I mean exactly, have the same shape, size and color - it doesnt seem natural.

    Everything is boring, over boiled and slapped with butter with stupid gaudy drink special advertisements crowding the tables.

    Call me crazy but one person in this thread thinks that Red Lobster SUCKS!

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