I love seafood but rarely eat out, so it was a rare treat when a friend took me to dinner last night at Red Lobster in Chillicothe, OH.
Since 5:30 is early for the dinner crowd at Red Lobster, we were seated quickly. The first thing I noticed when arriving at our table was a strong fruity smell that I believe was the cleaning product the table had been wiped down with. The odor did dissipate some, but lingered enough to be unpleasant to me throughout the meal.
Our waitress was both prompt and pleasant, allowing us time to make our menu choices without being bothersome, but did check back with us frequently. We chose the Lobster, Crab and Seafood-Stuffed Mushrooms for an appetizer at a price of $7.99. I thought the mushroom dish was edible, but I could barely discern the taste of either crab or lobster. I doubt I would order the stuffed mushrooms again.
Red Lobster’s advertisements of their Wood-Fire Grilled Entrees piqued our palates, so we both ordered the Wood-Grilled Lobster, Shrimp and Scallops at a price of $24.99 each. While waiting for our entrees, I enjoyed a Caesar salad which was crisp and tasty, and my friend had a tossed salad.
The Lobster, Shrimp and Scallops appeared in a reasonable amount of time, or at least mine did. The waitress said the chef had cooked the lobster and one of them came out ‘looking like it had been in a fight’, so he was cooking another and it would be ready in just a few moments. I proceeded to eat my dinner and my friend started on his, sans lobster.
The shrimp had been cooked on a bamboo skewer and the sea scallops on a metal one. Both tasted fine, with a slightly woody flavor to them, which is to be expected from the name Wood-Grilled. I do think that manner of preparation took away from the natural flavor of the scallops themselves just a bit, but wasn’t too overpowering.
I opted to eat my lobster tail last, while waiting for my friend to be served his. I pulled the meat of the lobster tail from the shell without difficulty, but noticed immediately that it was not cooked properly. Rather than come out as a fairly rigid chunk of meat, it was very limp. I was born and raised in New England and have eaten lobster at dozens of seafood restaurants including other Red Lobster locations, and have also cooked many of my own, so I know how lobster should be prepared. I have never seen lobster meat in this undercooked, soggy-like condition. I did try one bite but couldn’t swallow it.
When the waitress returned, I mentioned the unsatisfactory lobster and she immediately said she’d have the chef cook another, but as I had already eaten everything else and was no longer hungry, I asked for the check to be adjusted. She said she could have another lobster tail prepared for me to take home, but she couldn’t adjust the check. I asked for the manager, who appeared quickly. He was gracious and apologetic when I showed him the condition of the lobster tail that I was served, and he agreed to compensate for it. He charged us for two less expensive entrees of shrimp and scallops in place of the one I was served, which resulted in close to $10 being taken off the bill. I felt the monetary compensation was adequate.
Overall, the service offered by the wait staff and manager of the Chillicothe location was very good and the rest of the food was palatable, but the undercooked lobster was a real negative. For the chef of a national restaurant chain as large as Red Lobster to improperly cook two signature lobster tails at one meal is nothing short of humorous.
As we left the Chillicothe restaurant, I noticed a sign that attested to Red Lobster’s pride in serving the freshest seafood available – I suppose it was, but I would have preferred mine cooked.