Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Red Lobster Food Review

Spicy Habanero Coconut Shrimp Bites and Sweet Citrus-Grilled Shrimp

I admit it: I like to browse through a restaurant's menu before a review. It gives me a chance to compare prices, and consider as many options as possible. Trying to narrow down the choices at Red Lobster... even for lunch, is no easy task. Thankfully, I came across the three words guaranteed to put a smile on every food critic's face... Four-Course Feast. Cue drooling, and let the review begin!

I decided to treat myself to a day-off with an old movie (Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, starring Burt Lancaster & Kirk Douglas) at the nearby AFI Silver Theatre. Showtime was at 2:30; and a man has to eat, right? That meant a 1:30 reservation at Red Lobster, followed by a warm greeting from GM Mike and RL's kindly hostess, who escorted me to a quiet booth towards the back. This particular Red Lobster is usually packed (AKA, it's very, very popular) so a late lunch made perfect sense for someone like me (who doesn't like crowds of people.)

Once seated, I met Debonnie (goes by Debbie) RL's MVP server (seriously, if they ever have a Red Lobster all-star game, Silver Spring is sending Debbie.) She took my drink order (Sprite) and began to explain my options. I couldn't help but cough and point to the side panel of my open menu - and those beautiful three words from my opening paragraph... Four-Course Feast. To her credit, Debbie replied, "Say no more," and I enthusiastically picked my soup, salad, entree and dessert for the giveaway price of just $16.99. That meant a cup of Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup, Cole Slaw, Spicy Habanero Coconut Shrimp Bites and Sweet Citrus-Grilled Shrimp (atop more cole slaw and wild rice pilaf) and a slice of Key Lime Pie! If you stop reading this, in order to run out and order the exact same thing at your neighborhood Red Lobster... you have my blessing. Just in case you stayed put, did I mention the Feast comes with unlimited Cheddar Bay Biscuits?

Cheddar Bay Biscuits

RL's Cheddar Bay Biscuits are an institution of sorts: So popular, in fact... you can stop by and order a half-dozen to GO for $1.99 + tax. Guess what I'm sneaking into Regal Majestic next time? They arrive at your table two-at-a-time, piping hot and delicious. Standards are high (they don't sit long... 15 minutes, then they're toast) so you're literally guaranteed a perfect pair every time. I asked if many customers request butter on the side (about 25% do) and was given this helpful tip: The staff loves to dip them in RL's PiƱa Colada Dipping Sauce. Hmm... minutes later, I was doing as the locals staff do/does; and let me tell ya, they know what they're talking about. Yum to the nth degree!

Cole Slaw & Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Next up, my soup & salad (thankfully cole slaw... why can't all restaurants offer it?) My slaw was very tasty, although a bit watery (too much mayo.) The soup was perfect... spicy as advertised, but without excess oil or saltiness. Crispy tortilla strips provided a nice crunch, and the chicken was surprisingly fresh & tender. Portion sizes for both, were dead-on.

From there, it was two more biscuits (Debbie spoiled me) and a beautifully colored entree. The Spicy Habanero Coconut Shrimp Bites and Sweet Citrus-Grilled Shrimp is new, and believe you me... It's here to stay. The former came dressed in a sweet sauce, with a distinctive coconut aftertaste: They're bite-sized, and come atop a bed of cole slaw. Lightly fried, I couldn't have been more pleased. Except for the other side of the plate, that is. That's where a skewer of 10 small, but well-seasoned shrimp covered a delicious portion of wild rice pilaf (some of the best pilaf I've ever tasted, and prepared daily in-house.) The whole dish reminded me of a tropical paradise (both in taste & appearance) and gives diners a nice mix of fried & fresh seafood.

Key Lime Pie

Don't think less of me; but somehow I managed to sneak in two more biscuits (yes, that's six total... stop counting!) before dessert, a most-impressive looking (and tasting) Key Lime Pie. I was warned it would be a smaller portion than normal, but it looked plenty big to me. I devoured it, like the rest of the meal; then sat back, and admired my handiwork (eating is an art, don't you know.) Hands down, my best Red Lobster experience ever; and the beginning of a (hopefully) long-term love affair with RL's Cheddar Bay Biscuits.

Debbie & company were on top of everything during my lunch (drink refills, biscuits, etc.) and their goodwill extended far beyond my Table 31. I overheard laughing from the bar area, looked up and saw Debbie snapping photos for a couple of ladies... undoubtedly enjoying a great lunch too. I was so impressed, I told Mike (the aforementioned manager) who smiled proudly in agreement while using the word, "infectious." Positive attitudes are contagious, and I left RL with not only a full & happy tummy... but also a big smile on my face. What did you get for lunch today? Don't beat yourself up... There's always tomorrow (and Red Lobster.)