Oct 25, 2012

All-you-can-shrimp

Since the beginning of the month, Anthony had been harassing me. Some would argue he started harassing me long before then, but that’s beside the point. The point is that Red Lobster is back with its Endless Shrimp promotion, and Anthony wanted to go. And he didn’t want to go alone. And so he was harassing me. And so I reluctantly agreed,  and made we arrangements with our respective partners and eventually settled on a date.

For a limited time, you can eat all the shrimp you can handle. Apparently, it is the most popular promotion at Red Lobster. In fact, Red Lobster Blog tells us that “as a server this promotion is hell the first week, and hell on the weekends during peak business periods.”  Noted.  Also, from his point of view, ie as an employee, Endless Shrimp “is the single worst promotion ever created by Red Lobster.”  And this girl agrees forcefully. Thankfully, the Waffle doesn’t work at Red Lobster.

So for $18.99 , you will get you an Endless Shrimp dinner, including your choice of salad, unlimited Signature Biscuits and your choice of a side between mash potatoes, baked potato, french fries or broccoli.  If you were in the USA, it would cost you only $14.99…  Apparently shrimp are more expensive in Canada.

So the 5 of us arrived at the St. Laurent location on a cool but nice Thursday evening.  Apparently, they do not take reservations, so we just showed up and were told the wait would be 20 to 30 minutes, which could have been a problem with the Waffle Jr. Thankfully, there were some big ”bibittes” in the lobby aquarium to keep her occupied.  It seemed that Red Lobster were running out of them – but thankfully, we were here for shrimp, not lobster.

To keep me occupied, I ordered myself a Bloody Ceasar at the bar, keeping the vibrating pager in my jacket pocket, close to my heart.

We finally got to sit down, ordered some drinks and opened the menu.  Well, I didn’t, because I had done my research and already had an attack plan.

During Endless Shrimp, you can choose 2 selections from this list to start:

  • Baked Garlic Shrimp-and-Cheese - oven-broiled in a garlic sauce with a cheese-crumb topping;
  • Garlic Shrimp - shrimp oven-broiled in a buttery garlic sauce;
  • Shrimp Linguine Alfredo;
  • Hand-Breaded Shrimp, fried to a golden brown;
  • Teriyaki Grilled Shrimp - fire-grilled shrimp brushed with a teriyaki glaze served over rice.

The last one is a new option this year, an attempt to renew the offerings while keeping it real. So to speak.

My plan of attack was simple: 
Don’t fill up on pasta. Don’t fill up on biscuits. Don’t fill up on potatoes - I picked broccoli as a side.

Everybody ordered their first round.  Soon after, the tempting basket of warm biscuits showed up.  Soon after, the salad.

  

The biscuits are great.  Flaky, moist, fluffy, buttery.  No need to add butter, in fact (but I did anyway!) A hint of cheddar flavour, simply delicious! But it’s a trap! They make them so good so that you go ahead and fill up on them.  Avoid them! Well, ok, you should have one.  But that’s it!

The salad was alright – I got the garden salad with the Italian dressing.  But it was so cold! Especially the lettuce. Raw vegetables taste so much better at room temperature. They must prep the veggies too much in advance.  The dressing and the croutons were generic, nothing special.

First round, I got the Baked Garlic Shrimp-and-Cheese and the Teriyaki Grilled Shrimp. 

I was a tad disappointed in the Shrimp-and-Cheese.  It sounded soooo gooood! Not that it was bad, but Shrimp-and-Cheese made me think of Mac-and-Cheese. So I was expecting shrimp in a gooey cheesy sauce, with a nice crust on top. But what you get instead is baked garlic shrimp was just industrial parmesan on top. So no gooeyness, only a dry, bland crumbly crust on top of their regular Garlic Shrimp.

The Teriyaki Grilled Shrimp came on a skewer, served on a bed of uninspiring, overcooked rice. The shrimp were not fantastic, and didn’t feel grilled – there were barely any char marks.  The Teriyaki sauce isn’t all that good either. It was too sweet, not salty enough, and a little too syrupy. It is probably the healthiest option on the Endless shrimp menu though – not deep fried, not soaked in butter, not swimming in heavy cream.

In both dishes, the shrimp themselves were not overcooked, they had a nice pop and were texturally pleasing, no chewiness.

For the next round, I ordered the Garlic Shrimp and the Hand-Breaded Shrimp. In theory, you are supposed to order your next dish one at a time (Red Lobster will claim this is so you always have hot food, but I bet this is to actually slow down the rate of consumption) but I just ordered two anyway – I mean these babies are small and go fast!  In fact, our whole table did the same thing, and our waitress didn’t protest.

I much preferred the regular Garlic Shrimp to their Cheese counterpart. They had soaked plenty of the garlic butter, again they weren’t overcooked, and they didn’t have the dry topping. This was probably my favorite option. Simple, classic, efficient.

The Hand-Breaded Shrimp were standard deep-fried shrimp.  I somehow doubt that they are hand-breaded, and if they are, I doubt it’s on site. I kind of have a feeling they are frozen and cooked directly from the freezer. Nevertheless, they were decent, and the Waffle Jr. enjoyed them tremendously. They came with a pretty standard seafood sauce, not very high in horseradish but not bland either. A compromise, I suppose.

Mrs. Waffle was done – I, in fact, had to help her out with over half of her Shrimp-and-Cheese and her breaded shrimp. The Waffle Jr., who did not technically take part in the challenge, was also done, having had a whole bunch of her Mom’s shrimp, on top of half of her broiled fish and steamed broccoli. Red Lobster’s kids menu has a few options (other choices are Popcorn Shrimp, Macaroni & Cheese, Chicken Fingers, Grilled Chicken, Garlic-Grilled Shrimp and Snow Crab Legs) and all meals come with milk and choice of orange wedges or broccoli.

So it was down to Anthony, Travis and I. Anthony ordered another round of Shrimp-and-Cheese, but both Travis and I opted for the Shrimp Alfredo.

Red Lobster would love it if participants were ordering this first. Filling their customers’ stomach with cheap carbohydrates would help their margin. And the Alfredo sauce does not help either.  But I have got to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by this dish.  The linguine was al dente. The sauce was warm and creamy, not too heavy. Not a top notch Alfredo, but I’ve had way worse.  The smaller snow shrimp were peeled, de-veined and their tails removed – I hate having to remove the tails myself in a shrimp pasta dish. A nice touch – big shaving of parmesan cheese and fresh parsley to garnish the dish. 

I finished my plate, while Travis barely made a dent in his. Anthony having not made an attempt to climb Mount Shrimp Alfredo, I was the clear winner of this AYCE session. By my calculation, I hate 68 shrimp in that seating. A decent showing.

But how many do you have to eat to put Red Lobster in the hole? A lot more, according to those who answered the question on Reddit (the  best answers were gathered on Shrimp News International.)

Nevertheless, it was fun, the food was decent, the company was great, the service friendly and efficient. That’s how Endless Shrimp came to an end. It always does.  

But it’ll be back. And I’ll be back.

Red Lobster on Urbanspoon

2 Responses

  • God Hates Shrimp
    http://www.godhatesshrimp.com/

    Shrimp, crab, lobster, clams, mussels, all these are an abomination before the L…ord, just as gays are an abomination. Why stop at protesting gay marriage? Bring all of God’s law unto the heathens and the sodomites. We call upon all Christians to join the crusade against Long John Silver’s and Red Lobster.

  • Very nice review. I was thinking of going there during this festival, now I know what and what-not to order.

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