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mrsadm

Would you ever try Red Lobster again?

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I did a search on Red Lobster here on egullet, and what I found was tales of woe and embarassment about actually eating at this chain restaurant.

So this thread is meant to discuss their new revamping of the food, ambience/decor, and advertising campaign. NY Times article from today discusses this:

Red Lobster gets a Makeover

I ashamedly admit I do occasionally get their "shrimp fest" as a takeout meal but pretty much don't like anything else about the place, including the families with screaming children. I have all along assumed the shrimp dishes were prepared and frozen for delivery to the restaurants where they were microwaved before serving. But I don't know for sure. The article says the restaurants get seafood delivery 6 days a week but doesn't say if those deliveries contain any not-frozen fish.

Wonder if anyone here would actually try the place again after this new makeover?


*****

"Did you see what Julia Child did to that chicken?" ... Howard Borden on "Bob Newhart"

*****

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I don't know about you, but I don't have the budget to eat off-the-charts cuisine every night of the week. And, with 3 kids, even if I had the budget, it would be an exercise in insanity.

These days, you can eat at almost any chain restaurant and - by ordering carefully from the menu and asking for do-able alterations/substitutions - it's not all that bad.

In terms of any restaurant where I haven't been thrilled, I let a fair amount of time go by but I do give them another chance. I think any place has off nights or nights where some customers just don't have a great experience. After all, it all boils down to humans, not machines.

Long way around the park, but 'yes' I'd give Red Lobster another try (haven't been there is quite a while).

-Mark-


---------------------------------------------------------

"If you don't want to use butter, add cream."

Julia Child

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My mtoher and her sisters consider this place the Mecca of all cuisines, replete with lobster martyrs to provide them with spiritual fulfillment. Even my Jedi skills can't compel them not to go to the dark side but the farce is strong in those food chains. No Jedi mind tricks ever work. :raz:

No matter how hard I try to convince them that they are paying an exorbitant amount of money to abuse their palates, I cannot convince them and my comments are just given a polite smile. I have cooked lobsters for them on many occasions, in styles and ways that should have dropped their nickers(didin't want to say panties) and worship me(allow me my conceit).

In their defense, I can understand why they would want to eat there: The overcooked food seems to be what they've grown accustomed too eating. The texture, more than the taste, reminds them of their homeland. With the eldest sister's passing away and Red Lobster being their last place they've eaten togethere, the place has become nostalgic for them, the good ole days. I have learned not to spoil the experience for my mom, if she enjoys something with my aunts, then that's just fine with me. That is what food is all about.

Ratatouille movie, spoiler alert!!!

It reminds me of the movie Ratatouille and the food critic's reaction to that final dish. No, I have not tried the new and improved RL but I may take my mom out soon and build memories of that place with her, for nostalgia's sake.

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I eat at Red Lobster on occasion, as it's a favorite with some of my family and friends. Sure, I'd love to convince everybody to eat someplace that I consider more worthwhile. But, these meals are as much about honoring someone else's preferences, and making them happy and comfortable, as it is about eating good food. I can live with that.

As for the menu, I'm generally not happy with the regular selection, for the usual reasons mentioned above. I've had better luck with seasonal/chefs specials/daily fish specials. I had an herb-crusted salmon several years ago that was quite tasty. And as long as the server keeps the cheese biscuits coming, I've got no complaints at all!

April


One cantaloupe is ripe and lush/Another's green, another's mush/I'd buy a lot more cantaloupe/ If I possessed a fluoroscope. Ogden Nash

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I eat there from time to time. My group of gaming buddies keeps an eye on the one near our favorite theater to see when they do their Endless Shrimp special (there's 7 of us, pretty big eaters, one day we WILL break the re-order record at that location :rolleyes::biggrin: ) and my mother's parents like it, so if we go out to dinner with them on a special night the big RL is fair game. I wouldn't ever pretend it's top flight food, but if you order carefully and don't just get popcorn shrimp and a slab of fried fish you can do okay. Also cheese biscuits :wub:


Edited by Malkavian (log)

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I have a RL gift card that's been burning a hole in my wallet for about 8 months but I just can't bring myself to use it. My decision to not eat there has nothing to do with the quality of the food (as I've never had a bad experience with thier food), but it has everything to do with the wait. You can't go to a chain in this area without waiting at least 45 minutes. I can't stand it.

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No way. I do go to some pretty awful places because older family members, co-workers, etc. want to go; luckily, none of them frequent RL.

For some reason, the recent wave of concern expressed by chain restaurants for health, freshness etc. only makes me like them less. And without fail, I always find them way too expensive for what you get.

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I live in the hometown of Darden Restaurants which is the parent company of RL, Olive Garden (bleh), Bahama Breeze (yummy), Seasons 52 (amazing for a chain..but just a few locations) and for a few more minutes - Smokey Bones. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit it - but I actually enjoy Red Lobster..but only for one thing. I don't really have any choices near me BUT chains.. and Red Lobster for 7.99 for lunch gets me consistently good fried shrimp, good baked potato, amazing cheddar biscuits and a decent caesar salad.

Would I go there an order a Lobster, "Fresh" fish or crab? No. But for a consistently good lunch, quickly at a good price... it really can't be beat.


Edited by disneyfan1313 (log)

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The last time I ate at a Red Lobster, in 1988, the servers dropped everything they were doing at least six times to approach various tables to sing Happy Birthday. I vowed then never to eat at Red Lobster again. The article does not say whether the chain has gotten away from the singing, so I plan to keep my vow.

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RL is so typical of what's bad about chains. Expensive...dumb servers...gluttonous guests...mediocre food. It is hard to see how a physical makeover would change that culture.

Why do people wait for an hour for this abuse? Amazing.

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I would not go even if they took the building turned it inside out shook it really hard and then started again ..it will still be a RL just like all those places...

the service, the food, the crowds, the singing ...the singing ..the singing ...

I know that more people enjoy this kind of thing more than I do( just like people can shop at Walmart and I get stuck at the door and can not go in ... the bright lights and the greeters overwhelm me!) ... even if they were serving decent food ...I could not enjoy a meal in that environment... the fact they don't makes it to hard for me to go in the door

when I am invited by folks I love... to go to celebrations in places like that I send a card ..a nice gift ..my love ...and give someone money to pay for the guest of honor"s meal if it is appropriate ..and apologize for not being able to over come my overstimulation enough to get in the door ...

so my answer is ...no ...I can not and will not go back to a RL no matter what they do to make it better..it is still what it is and that to me is not pleasurable dining ...

but I am glad there is a place like that for folks who enjoy the food and ambiance!


why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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Hi,

The Red Lobster in Springfield, IL just posted the worst restaurant inspection rating of the week. Six Critical Violations and Six Non-Critical Violations

I assume that it will be extra clean for the next week or two....

Tim

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The article says the restaurants get seafood delivery 6 days a week but doesn't say if those deliveries contain any not-frozen fish.

Yes, that article was full of descriptions of changes to RL's marketing and their FOH look, but very little about the food and, as importantly to me, their BOH operations.

Living relatively near the coast, I have zero need to eat at a RL because I have good seafood options within relatively close proximity. However, if I lived in a small town/city in the heartland, I can see this being tempting if you wanted to eat seafood out. Especially since the grocery stores out there might not be stocking the freshest seafood themselves.

So, what would I want to hear from RL? I'd want to know more about this "delivery 6 days a week" statement. From where and what's being delivered? Is the new product matching the hype?

More importantly, I'd want to know what they're doing to train their BOH about how to cook fish. I'd be too scared about getting rubbery, overcooked fish. Preparing fresh seafood is different from dropping frozen shrimp in the fryolator. Frankly, I'd probably rather have shrimp from the fryolator than some overcooked, inedible "fresh" fish.

Take some lessons from another seafood chain (albeit expensive), Legal Sea Foods. I don't eat there often b/c I have much better options, but I've always had my food prepared well at LSF.

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I will continue to go for the cheddar biscuits, which I've been convinced for some time contain crack. In order to get said biscuits, I will order a mixed shrimp plate. It's pretty hard to screw up fried shrimp, or shrimp in a sea of garlic butter.


"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)

My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

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I am often blessed with $50 RL gift cards so we eat there several times a year. Where else can you go for lunch and get a reasonable entree, a baked potato, salad and biscuits? I usually stick to shrimp of some sort but my SO likes their salmon at times but usually orders one of their large salads. We have never encountered anyone singing Happy Birthday and since we go at lunch time, we have never had to wait. The one we go to has had the same waitstaff for years and they have all been pleasnt and efficient, the manager is very proactive and makes the rounds of the room frequently.

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RL is so typical of what's bad about chains.  Expensive...dumb servers...gluttonous guests...mediocre food. It is hard to see how a physical makeover would change that culture.

Why do people wait for an hour for this abuse?  Amazing.

Depending on your location, there may not be anything better around. Witness my hometown (backwoods of western north carolina) No red lobster (yet) but just about the best food the county proper has to offer is a Chili's and a Barley's. Local acts are for the most part inconsistent or mundane at best. an RL would be an improvement (and probably isn't there because of the arcane liquor laws the county sticks to despite the people who leave in droves for entertainment elsewhere, but i suppose that's another rant)


Edited by Malkavian (log)

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The first, last, and only time I have been in a Red Lobster was when a business acquaintance asked me what I wanted in repayment for a big favor; I said I wanted a lobster dinner. Little did I imagine that he would cheap out by taking me to a RL. That had to be the skankiest lobster I had ever eaten, confirming all my deepest prejudices about such places. Haven't been back since.

Maybe if somebody gave me a gift card, I would be persuaded to check out this new improved RL. But I ain't checking it out on my nickel.

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Sorry the article has gone past it's "free" stage so here is a brief abstract to give you the gist of what it's about:

Red Lobster restaurant chain is undergoing its biggest makeover in almost 40 years in hopes of attracting wealthier diners; kitschy fish-shaped tables will gradually be replaced by more natural-looking decor featuring stone and wood; hamburgers will disappear from menu and oldies music will be replaced with more contemporary mix; Red Lobster president Kim Lopdrup says new marketing initiative, developed by Richards Group, is part of three-stage effort to revamp brand


*****

"Did you see what Julia Child did to that chicken?" ... Howard Borden on "Bob Newhart"

*****

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We ate there a few nights ago and had a nice dinner.

But then, we live in Kansas, which is hardly a seafood mecca. I've had seafood at several other restaurants in town, and I can tell you that it's often more expensive than at RL, but hardly ever any better.

Not that the RL fare here is what East or West Coast-ers would consider really good seafood.

The cheddar biscuits were, as usual, hot and fresh and tender and (the rest is pornographic).

The salad was fresh and crisp. Mostly iceberg. Bleu cheese dressing was probably not made on the premises, but wasn't bad.

My dinner consisted of lobster, scallops, shrimp, and crab. The lobster was a bit overcooked (but still very enjoyable), but the scallops, shrimp, and crab were just fine. The butter was, at least, a decent grade of butter.

Service was competent and quick. Our water glasses didn't stay empty for long.

No, it wasn't 4-star restaurant dining, but we can't afford to do much of that. It was just a weeknight meal out, and it was fine.

Edited to add: Although most restaurants in the area have substantial waits on Friday and Saturday evenings, the wait at RL here is usually not as long as at other places. We probably eat there about twice a year, and it's been several years since we've had more than a 20-minute wait.


Edited by jgm (log)

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RL is so typical of what's bad about chains.  Expensive...dumb servers...gluttonous guests...mediocre food. It is hard to see how a physical makeover would change that culture.

Why do people wait for an hour for this abuse?  Amazing.

Depending on your location, there may not be anything better around. Witness my hometown (backwoods of western north carolina) No red lobster (yet) but just about the best food the county proper has to offer is a Chili's and a Barley's. Local acts are for the most part inconsistent or mundane at best. an RL would be an improvement (and probably isn't there because of the arcane liquor laws the county sticks to despite the people who leave in droves for entertainment elsewhere, but i suppose that's another rant)

Very sad, indeed. What tends to make these places popular is their consistent mediocrity. People generally prefer the devil they know than those they don't. If they are the best restaurants in an area, that speaks really poorly about those areas.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I seem to recall eating there with my family when I was in my teens, but I haven't set foot in one since then, only because I really don't like seafood outside of the occasional piece of salmon, a tuna sandwich, maybe some mesquite-grilled shrimp. Things like lobster just creep me out.

Strangely, though, somehow my daughters have developed a fascination with RL, and so whenever my parents ask them where they'd like to be taken for a birthday dinner (...hey, how come MY grandparents never took ME out to dinner?), they always say "RED LOBSTER!". Fortunately, this means it doesn't come out of my pocket. Of course, then I have to take them out for another birthday dinner, but at least that's at some place I can find something I want to eat.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“A favorite dish in Kansas is creamed corn on a stick.”

-Jeff Harms, actor, comedian.

>Enjoying every bite, because I don't know any better...

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It has been some years since I have been to RL. The last time I went, I ordered the surf and turf. Big mistake.

Both the lobster and the steak were way over cooked. Blech.


Chicks dig wheelguns.

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Living in Chicago there are so many similar priced places it's a blessing really. Still a few friends love the place so we go. My biggest complaint would be the pressure the corporation puts on the servers to upsell.

Gets a little annoying. "Your wasting your time trying to sell me that damn jack and coffee, trust me you'll make up for it in beer."


"And in the meantime, listen to your appetite and play with your food."

Alton Brown, Good Eats

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Its not that I had bad food when I ate at RL, its that I can get better food, of a similar type, for the same price. Red Lobster aint cheap. So, for my money, I'd rather go to The Fish Market (a western US-ish small chain).

But I like RL's cheese bisquits just fine. So if people I like really want to go there, and aren't willing to go to The Fish Market instead, I'll join them in a meal.


"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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To be fair, there are no "Dead Lobster's" (as we affectionately call them) in our neighborhood.

I can buy an obscenely huge Dungeness crab off the boat for about 6 bucks.

I can take it home and cook it and eat it in all of it's messy splendor with no onlookers except my dog, at whom I growl softly. This is my damned crab. (Once you've eaten Dungeness crab, Lobster is just a frill....an affectation. All that tail meat in such slutty abundance....no.)

I wade in butter, shamelessly. If I displayed the animalistic feeding frenzy that fresh crab causes me to indulge in in a restaurant, I'd be hauled away.

And I bake pretty good biscuits, too.

Sherry

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