I need to eat at Red Lobster. What is there on the menu that a relative food snob like myself might enjoy?
A friend has gone through some rough times, and some of us are taking her out to dinner to help cheer her up. Said friend loves Red Lobster and is really excited to go there.
I've tried politely suggesting other options nearby in the same price range that I consider to be a better value for the money (I also offered to cook and host dinner at my house), but her heart is set, and this is about her, not me, so I need to go along.
I will be less resentful about having to eat at a place that I consider to espouse everything that is wrong with chain dining in America if there is some hidden gem on the menu that is actually really good.
My parameters are kind of picky:
- I'm hoping to avoid anything pre-cooked and frozen, or straight off of the Sysco truck. This, for example, is why a place like Outback Steakhouse that supposedly cooks much of its food from scratch would be more appealing to me, whilst still being a chain.
- I've read enough Anthony Bourdain to know that dishes like Crab Linguine Alfredo (which are 90% pasta and 10% yesterday's leftover crab all for only $19.95) are a ripoff.
- I'd be OK with doing the whole lobster (at least I know that's fresh) but will I be overpaying for a sad, poor quality lobster that lived out the last of its life in a tiny tank with poor filtration?
- I also don't generally eat much seafood because I live in Minnesota so it's not like it's ever really fresh and it's always so confusing to tell what is overfished or poorly farmed, or has to much mercury and all that. I do know about the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch, so I'll be using that to help narrow my choices as well -- I'd like the fish to be a "good alternative" if not a "best choice".
I realize that this is particularly idiosyncratic of me, but I'm not a fan of cheese that tastes like cheese (gimme mozzarella or provolone and I'm fine) so the Cheddar Bay Biscuits (which seem to be a guilty pleasure of even my food snobby friends who agree that Red Lobster sucks) make me gag.
- I don't want to do something like eating before hand and just nursing some drinks all evening either, because I feel like that would be awkward while everyone else is enjoying a meal.
The meal doesn't have to be particularly healthy: butter (as long as it's actually butter and not country crock or some hydrogenated nightmare -- what is that "butter dip" made out of anyways?), deep-fried, salty, fatty, are all good, as long as they taste
Money is also no object. I will be paying for my own meal, and we don't eat out that often, so if the right answer is the whole lobster at $35/lb (or whatever market price ends up being), I'll do that. I just don't want to get ripped off and
be disappointed in the meal.
So, hivemind, what does Red Lobster have that's actually good?