WTF Weds: Red Lobster Restaurant, Medford, OR

Posted on
Oct 16, 2013

He has no idea what he’s getting himself into.

When I was a kid, my family went out to eat approximately never. My mother will tell you that it was out of frugality, because my family was broke (not in a depressing, Charles-Dickens sort of way, but a charming and somewhat hilarious let’s-throw-a-blanket-over-the-kids-so-we-don’t-have-to-pay-for-them-at-the-Drive-In kind of way).

I’m sure our reluctance to eat out also had to do with the fact that restaurants don’t like patrons who sit around the table for three hours after the meal is finished, yelling at one another about nothing. This is a part of Italian culture, and if you think that I am over-generalizing, then you have never had dinner with an Italian family.

Seriously, my family can fight about what time it is, if you let them.

I find it all rather hilarious, and I often just sit back and enjoy the conflict, occasionally stoking the coals (“Don’t forget about daylight savings!” I’ll innocently add, and another hour will be lost to the yelling). Sometimes I even make a bag of popcorn and nibble on it as I watch the show, and they don’t even notice.

Before you judge me on my choice of entertainment, I will kindly remind you that it’s in my blood: the ancient Romans used to watch people tear one another apart in the Colosseum; by comparison, our family dinners involve fewer casualties, though there is just about as much sword-wielding and yelling.

You can imagine, then, that eating out was a kind of torture for them, because everyone had to sit down in chairs and not scream at one another (“YOUR WATCH ALWAYS RUNS FAST!”). So most days, we ate at home, around a table at which the two constant guests were an enormous pot of pasta and a gallon bottle of Carlo Rossi, and it didn’t matter if we shouted or not, because the neighbors already hated us.

There were some exceptions, of course, some days that we broke away from ritual. My brother and I grew up in the 80s and 90s, which means that our food pyramids included 23 servings of sugar a day, and lots of transubstantiated fats (we’re Catholic), which are hard to get if your mother insists on cooking you dinner.

We were committed to our nutrition, though, and there were two of us, so we outnumbered her. If we whined hard enough, for long enough, we’d shatter what was left of my mother’s dwindling composure, and she’d take us to McDonald’s.

Or sometimes we’d hit the all-you-can-eat-buffet at the Sizzler. I highly recommend going to a buffet with my family, because you will see wondrous things. A five-foot-tall, 110-pound woman will put away enough calories to sustain a linebacker, or a demure 70-something-grandmother will smuggle out several meals’ worth of food in her purse with the stealthiness of a cat burglar.

Despite what it seemed, there were still rules: no dessert, unless it was part of the buffet, and no sodas with our meals because, according to my mother’s logic, “That’s how they get you.” (I’m 33, and while I still don’t know what this means, I can’t drink anything but water with dinner.)

Since we went out to eat so rarely, it was an absolute delight whenever we did. The most magical of all of these places was, without question, Red Lobster.

In my young life, there was no finer restaurant, no greater cuisine.

When I was five years old or so, I remember sitting at the table at my great aunt’s apartment in Rome, watching her make hundreds of little tortellini. She rolled out the pasta dough, which she’d kneaded with strong forearms, dolloped the filling inside, and then folded EACH AND EVERY ONE.

She gently boiled them and presented me with a bowlful, adorned with a splash of bright red sauce on top.

They were perfectly made and wonderful, but I was five years old. I’m pretty sure I choked down a few and then demanded a Pop-Tart.

Recalling that day still makes me cringe, because if you ask me what my fondest culinary memory of childhood is, I cannot honestly say it was that. Nor was it my mother’s lasagna, or my grandmother’s carbonara, or anything else that had been lovingly prepared for me by an Italian woman in a too-small kitchen.

No. Instead, I would say it going to the Red Lobster and stuffing my face with enough popcorn shrimp to satiate a walrus, followed by a half dozen Cheddar Bay biscuits.


In the years since, I’ve learned that Red Lobster is not the culinary hub that I thought it was. This is true of most places that trademark menu items.

RIP, Crabfest (TM).

And yet, even now, when I’ve known so much better, Red Lobster still holds a place in my heart. It’s like that weird friend left over from childhood who you don’t really like anymore, and who is maybe a little bit of a bigot, but you still have to keep being friends with them because they have all that dirt on you from middle school.

I don’t actually like Red Lobster, but I will always love it.

Rand is horrified by this, and like any good wife, I extract a lot of joy in threatening him with going there.

Me: Oooh! We just passed a Red Lobster. Do you want to –

Him: No.

Me: Why not?

Him: Because I care about your well-being.

Me: Endless shrimp are essential to my well-being.

Him: No, they aren’t. No one needs endless shrimp.

Me: Orcas do.

Him: You are not an orca.

Me: I’m going to demand you take me there on my birthday, and then you won’t be able to say no.

Him: Damn it, woman.

I reasoned that this was a safe and empty threat, so I made it often. And then, it happened. We were in Ashland, and my birthday rolled around.

And Rand called my fucking bluff.

“There’s a Red Lobster in Medford,” he said, his eyes glassy and unfocused, a manic smile on his lips. It was terrifying. And then I realized: this was it. We were waging a cold war, armed with mediocre seafood. I either had to go along with his idea, or stop tormenting him with the threat of it.

I chose the former, because I didn’t get where I am by not tormenting the man I married.

So we went.

In the hotel parking lot. He pointed northward and screamed, “TO RED LOBSTER.” Because that is my life.

I feel it pertinent to note that Rand had never actually been inside a Red Lobster until that day. He was sort of weirdly, crazily excited by everything.

Like the fact that there are lobsters in the tank out front.

And that there’s a drink called the “lobsterita”.


Despite being the color of pureed crustaceans, the lobsterita turned out to contain no lobster. I’m sure it will be only a matter of time before it happens, though. The demographic of people who love lobster but hate chewing it, and who also want to get drunk, is growing by the second.

I examined the menu, which had more pictures than most books designed for preschoolers, and was created by someone having a severe break with reality. The photos and descriptions in a Red Lobster menu bear about as much similarity to real life as the dating profiles on a free singles website.

When you see the object in real life, you hold it up to the glossy picture that lured you in and try to figure out how the two could ever have been the same.

“What happened?” you ask your waitress, sometimes tearfully. And the answer, in all cases, is time, and the harshness of existence, which leaves its mark on all of our faces and also on our shrimp scampi.

“What kind of salad are you getting?” I asked Rand.

“I wasn’t planning on getting one,” he replied.

“You have no choice.”

If you go to Red Lobster, you will get a free salad. Regardless of what you order or who you are, this will happen. Even if you walk in to use the bathroom or ask for directions, they will hand you one, and then it will be awkward and you have to stay for a meal. This is, I assume, how Red Lobster gets much of its clientele.

As you walk through the restaurant, you see everyone regarding their limp lettuce with varying levels of disdain; a weird, unwanted party favor deposited on their tables. As an American, this is one of the few times I’ve gotten to see Communism in action, and it’s every bit as horrifying as Rambo would have you believe.

I promise you: no one actually enjoys the salads at Red lobster; they are simply designed to distract you so you don’t devour all the biscuits and revolt when the next batch doesn’t come out fast enough.

I ordered the standard Chef’s salad with blueberry vinaigrette. Rand followed suit.

When they arrived, it was clear they had been prepared by someone who had never actually eaten a salad, but had read about them in books and felt confident that they could put together a close approximation.

Most of it was iceberg lettuce, a vegetable which has been cultivated exclusively as a decoration, and never meant for actual consumption. It’s name in Latin literally means “nature’s doily”*.  It was hastily topped with a scoop of flavorless diced cucumber and tomatoes,  and a shaking of dusty croutons, all of which could, in a pinch, be used in place of packing material when shipping delicate objects.

*this is not actually true

Anointing it all was a sugary, purple-hued syrup that was, in composition, at least three isotopes away from blueberries.

“Oh, god,” Rand whispered, when it was placed in front of him. I think the reality of his situation had just hit him.

“God had nothing to do with this,” I said. I contemplated ordering us a round of lobsteritas to help us cope, but then the Cheddar Bay biscuits arrived.

If you have never had a Cheddar Bay biscuit, then you may be from another country or possibly another planet. In either case, welcome to America! Let me introduce you to the greatest thing to come out of our land since Bruce Springsteen:

I quickly grabbed two of out the basket and rammed them into my mouth. I have six cousins who are older than me (all of them boys), and so I learned at a young age to store excess food in my cheek pouches like a hamster. Rand stared at me, horrified and also kind of confused, because there were still two biscuits left in the basket, and besides, in 30 seconds or so, someone was going to emerge from the kitchen with a wheelbarrow full of them, and just start shoveling them onto each of the tables.

The thing is, those biscuits which I’d so readily devoured as a child weren’t even close to being as good as I remembered. They were less cheesy, and less garlicky, and too crumbly.

I chewed on them, sadly, pathetically. At least Born to Run still holds up.

Our meals came out soon after.

I had ordered the grilled salmon and a skilled skewer of shrimp, along with a massive side of vegetables. It looked far too healthy, and I’m sure someone in the kitchen thought they’d misheard the order, or assumed that whoever had requested it had walked into the wrong restaurant.


In my younger years, I’d have gotten the Admiral’s Feast, in which a random sample of invertebrates are pulled from the oceans, batter-dipped and deep-fried. But time is a harsh mistress, and my metabolism was no longer up for the task of decimating the planet’s shrimp population, so grilled fish and veggies it was for me.

As for Rand, he decided to go with the eponymous choice, which is usually a safe bet in chain restaurants. If a place does one thing good, it’s usually the dish that’s part of its name (counterexamples include: Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell. Also, the name “Popeye’s” is totally misleading).

I made him wear the bib, as there are few times in life in which you get to eat an animal while wearing a picture of it on your chest:

If you ask me, we don’t gloat enough about being at the top of the food chain.

We both tucked in and it was, well …

It was perfectly mediocre.

It wasn’t the restaurant of my childhood, where I ate so much I had to unbutton my pants, and openly wept when we had to go home. It wasn’t even that bad, either. It was just a completely average chain restaurant that happened to serve seafood.

Maybe this was why I hadn’t returned to Red Lobster in so many years – because I knew it couldn’t have been as good as I remembered. I’d avoided it for so long because I wanted to keep my childhood memories intact, as ridiculous as they were. I wanted to regard it as a magical place, with baskets full of hot cheesy biscuits and mountains of golden shrimp, my brain free of concerns about sustainable fishing and the evils of batter-dipping.

The restaurant hadn’t changed, but I most certainly had.

We left, and Rand asked me how I enjoyed my meal.

I shrugged.

“So … where do I take you next year?” he asked.

I paused to think about it. For my next birthday, maybe we could have pasta, at home. And maybe, just maybe, we could linger over the table, arguing about nothing, for a few hours.

I would like that.

Leave a Comment

  • God, this is utterly perfect.

  • lots of transubstantiated fats (we’re Catholic)

    I laughed out loud at this. Hard.

  • Sarah

    I remember being taken to Red Lobster in Middle School after being chosen as “Student of the Month” for the 5th grade. I was joined by one representative from each of the other grades that encompassed the school (6th, 7th, and 8th), and we were all escorted by our Vice Principal. I was so excited the morning of the “big lunch” that I spilled all of my breakfast cereal all over my carefully chosen outfit (which included a body suit “shirt” topped with an unbuttoned plaid shirt — not the oversized ones I reserved for covering up t-shirts — a “nice” fitted one). I was mortified that I had to wear my less than acceptable second choice outfit – a wool sweater from old navy with a collared shirt underneath. Anyway, that meal made me feel like a Princess – I remember running home to tell my Mom about the best thing I have ever eaten – a CRAB CAKE! I think the Vice Principal even requested that we each get take home containers with extra biscuits — because we all loved them so much! I share the sentiment of Red Lobster being THE PLACE to eat out from my childhood. And, I assume, like you, if I were to return, I would find the place merely mediocre. Regardless, I always smile when I pass one by. Thanks for the memory!

  • This cracked me up, from start to finish, especially the part about the salads. Thanks for brightening my morning!

  • Jenny

    As someone who used to work at a Red Lobster, that is exactly how you are told to make a salad. Lot of “lettuce”, one onion ring, tomatoes and no more than one scoop of croutons. And most of the time, you make about 40 of them and put them pre-assembled into a fridge where they are pulled out hours later to slap dressing on them and take them to the table. I worked there after high school and remember being horrible disappointed at the reality behind it all. Red Lobster was our going out to eat restaurant too. Maybe once a year or so. Anyway, all my illusions were shattered when I started working there. Love your website!

  • Jen

    This was awesome. I’m pretty sure my husband has called my bluff before and I too have taken the less pleasant option just to be right. Love how much fun Rand seems to be having just livin’ life.

  • Kelsi

    Brilliant. This is brilliant.
    Thanks for helping me start my day with laughter.

  • Janine

    I LOVE This…and the play by play photos! I chortled like a crazed lady on the crosstown bus (and don’t even get me started on my nutritional demise in the 80’s and 90’s—I sustained my teenage self on captain crunch and lucky charms–’nuff said!)

  • Ruth

    The lighting in that Red Lobster was incredibly flattering.

    • Everywhereist

      Indeed. The lobsters look great, don’t they?

  • Mike

    I loved this. Perfect, G.

  • I am living with people who I have known for 20 years but didn’t really know until I moved in with them. My house sold, my new one is not yet complete so this is a way station on the way. And every day I pray that those workers hurry.

    He has turned out to be a Neanderthal; not the yelling, screaming kind of abusive SOB that you could easily detest, no the even worse passive aggressive kind that everyone thinks is nicer than he really is. He is selfish and lazy and his wife is a saint (or a fool) and their 34th wedding anniversary will tell the story best for me.

    He took her to Red Lobster for dinner using a gift certificate she received from one of her preschool students. Need I say more?

  • Alan Bleiweiss

    I too returned to Red Lobster a little over a year ago, after many years had passed. And it was the exact same result for me. Such is the life of an adult where taste buds and awareness of nutritional considerations is significantly heightened…

    Ah, to be young, effortlessly impressed by “something new” and completely blind to the substance of it…

  • And yet in all of its mediocrity, the lines to get a table often wrap around the building. The same thing happens at Olive Garden. What does that say about the American tastebud?

  • I’m totally going to start gloating more about the food chain thing. Hilarious!

  • Matt Bowers

    This part is HILARIOUS:

    “so I learned at a young age to store excess food in my cheek
    pouches like a hamster. Rand stared at me, horrified and
    also kind of confused, because there were still two biscuits
    left in the basket, and besides, in 30 seconds or so, someone
    was going to emerge from the kitchen with a wheelbarrow full
    of them, and just start shoveling them onto each of the tables.”

    I have never been to Red Lobster, but now I must visit.

  • Myssie1963

    Did you know that you can buy Cheddar Bay biscuit mix at the grocery store now? That says something about our society, although I’m not sure what, exactly.

    • Sue

      General Mills owned Red Lobster from 1970-1995. The biscuits are made of Bisquick another GM product. I worked there in high school when they stopped serving garlic bread in favor of biscuits, and people were enraged. The did get stale quick and were great for spur of the moment baseball games.

  • Jon

    I am a fan of Red Lobster, but I don’t dine there anymore due to their lack of service.
    The reason that I am still a fan because of an awesome experience back (I don’t want to give away my age, lol) over 20 years ago. My wife and I still cherish the memory.

    This experience occurred at Rapid City, SD. Was in late summer and there were T storms all around the area. On this particular day we opted to order for a carry-out, my 2 year old was just too much of a handful in a restaurant.

    Don’t recall exactly what we ordered over the phone, but it was a lot with crab, shrimp and lobster.
    So I go to pick up the feast, but our order wasn’t ready. Red Lobster was crowded and there were people waiting for seats.

    So you have to visualize the settings – outside there were T storms nearby rumbling from the distance. Was windy and partly cloudy where we were. Power outage struck once for 1 minute. (was probably the shortest PO in SD)

    Anyways, I waited for our take out and after the pwr outage the manager informed us there will be some delays for our food. (approx 20 minutes more waiting) I call call home from a pay phone (this is before cell phones was a common item) to let my wife know about our pickup.

    Twenty minutes soon became 40 minutes to 1 hour. I ask the manager about the food and they were very apologetic about the ordeal. They ask me to wait a little more. Finally, almost 1 hour and fifty minutes total waiting time for a carry out, my food arrives.

    But, it came in double orders from my original order of 1. The manager apologized and thanked me for being so patient. They (Red Lobster) decided to double my order and they took care of the tabs.

    This was my fondest memory of Red Lobster.

  • I loved Red Lobster growing up! Funny how many people have it woven happily into their childhood memories. I’m sure it’s been more than 20 years since I’ve been to one, also by choice. Now I think I need to do it.

  • Goodness woman, your writing is a gift!

  • Philip

    In 25 years I hope my daughter writes this same thing about Red Robin. She effing LOVES that place (she’s 6!) and I feel physically and emotionally unwell every time we go. But I guess I love her more than I hate Red Robin. Such is my life.

  • Jenna

    I ate at a Red Lobster for the first time last year. I was so horrified by the meal, I sent an email to corporate. Long story short they mailed me a $75 gift card and a request to give them another try. I’ve offered the card to at least 5 people, no one wants it. They literally can’t give their food away.

  • Firstly, let me share with you that Rand’s enthusiasm was contagious throughout this battle of longing for a childhood memory to be as good as one remembers and the harsh reality that no, no it was not…

    Secondly? This was brilliantly written and quite frankly I was excited as I scrolled to see so many supporting photos to help illustrate your story. Completely hilarious. And just the right amount of snark. Also? A well-placed “fuck” is always appreciated.

    I wish you many happy arguments over your dinner table over horribly failed attempts at making Tortellini just like your precious, sweet Great Aunt.

  • Lyn Never

    I went to RL for my birthday this year, because it was a weeknight and I had to work a little late and it was right around the corner and I was tired. All I can tell you is: get the Admiral’s Feast, it is eternal and unchanging. Don’t eat all of it, maybe, or blot most of it with a napkin first, but it’s the only thing there that is more or less as it has always been.

    I do have a weird fondness for sit-down chain restaurant nearly-frozen iceberg salad (always Ranch, don’t get experimental) though. It’s been years since I’ve been to one, but Outback Steakhouse was the ne plus ultra of the genre back in the day.

  • CatCat

    I got to ride sidecar while my husband’s childhood memories were silently driven into the Red Lobster ditch. The question – was the restaurant quality better 20 years ago or do we just blame it all on the sh*tty tastebuds of children. BOTH! I would have laughed at my husband louder, but he knows my favorite sandwich at 5 was cream cheese, yellow mustard and mayonnaise. I can’t even bring myself to try it again, to see if it does indeed taste like root beer.

  • Moni

    I just mentioned this to a friend as there is a new Red Lobster opening up in Harlem. My first reaction: They’re about 25 years too late and second: The food is HORRIBLE!

    In 1997 I ate in one in New Jersey, got sick and threw up on the side of the highway (I was pregnant at the time, so I chalked it up to baby didn’t like it). Fast forward 10 years later, I give it another try – not only did the portions get way smaller, I too noticed the biscuits did not taste as good as they did when we were younger. And dry as sand!

    When a restaurant becomes a major chain and also starts selling it’s products in stores (as Red Lobster now sells it’s biscuit mix at Sam’s Club), it’s over!

  • Kristina Cline

    I remember one year going to Red Lobster for !LobsterFest!! (TM) I was very confused why there was no additional festivities. I was expecting a Lobster Pinata, Lobster Favors, etc. I would have gone for a Virgin Lobstertini if it was offered to me.

  • Transubstantiated fats made my day.

  • Kimberly

    How do I love thy post? Let me count the ways! *snickers* Thank you for the smile this morning. I needed it. I LOVED the comments about your Italian family drawing it’s need for loud, combative entertainment from your Roman roots. Also, the entire section about the Red Lobster salad…cue gigglefest. I liked it so much, I shared it on my facebook page.

  • Jay

    Oh my – you had me laughing out loud. As a child, I hated seafood but dammit, I loved those biscuits. I have not been back since and perhaps you have convinced me to keep it that way. (My parents were there last night – all of us kids are grown yet they can’t help themselves.)

  • Hahahaha, oh my god this is so funny. It’s been about a year since I’ve had Red Lobster, but the biscuits were every bit as delicious as I remember. It’s better if you make it at home, close your eyes, and throw in twice as much cheese and butter.

  • Meghan

    When we first starting dating my husband would mention wanting to go to Golden Corral on a monthly bases and I would never go. I surprised him a few years ago and took him there for valentines. He hasn’t asked to go back since then. I think I won.

  • Desiree

    Red Lobster truly is a place for children (and seniors – something to do with underdeveloped/tired taste buds, perhaps), as evidenced by the fact that my son’s Preschool takes the children on a FIELD TRIP there. For cryin’ out loud, a field trip. Granted, they have a pirate-themed party and learn about the sea and its creatures, but still. A field trip.

  • I too thought Red Lobster was the most amazing place growing up. We would drive an hour to get there. Guess where I went on my birthday this year? Yup, Red Lobster… But only because I let my Mom pick the place. I guess she still thinks it’s amazing… I really need to get her out more.

  • Melissa

    ah, my crazy Italian family exactly, although the sitting around the table for hours isn’t ALWAYS arguing – our family also has a penchant for toilet humor at the table following a meal – appetizing, I know. Although growing up that way pretty much makes me immune to losing my appetite over any weird thing people are talking about while eating, so I guess that’s a perk?

    • Melissa

      oh, had to laugh that you reminded me of a time dyring a typical family gathering at my grandma’s when I was a child, the police showed up at the door saying the neighbors called about a fight going on at this residence – we all looked confused (we had been having our normal meal conversation at OUR normal volume level), then promptly asked the officers if they’d eaten yet and invited them in.
      And to this day we can’t take my grandmother to a buffet – too humiliating when she pulls out the ziploc baggies….

  • I love you guys.

  • James Craven AKA @CravenTravels

    Thanks for making my day! Have sent copies to my entire family so they understand why we never went back to “Lobsterfest” 🙂

  • Hi! Newcomer to Everywhereist here. I’m really, really loving your blog posts, and this is just yet another fantastic one. ^^ Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. Can’t wait for the next one~~

    (I’ve actually never been to a Red Lobster, so I don’t have that same sort of nostalgic affection for it. I’m pretty sure we have one on the island somewhere, but there are so many other seafood places that are perfectly affordable, so my parents never took us there! It’s the same with Olive Garden–I’m not even sure there’s one in the state! I think I’ve been to a Chili’s and a Ruby Tuesday and an Denny’s… once. My parents have always been Pizza Hut sort of folk. It’s got the word “hut” in it, so as a child I firmly believed that we were supporting a local business. Oh, how wrong I was.)

  • This was hilarious! And also the last post on this blog I’ll ever read….you CAN’T possibly prefer Pop Tarts to home made tortellini. Dealbreaker!

  • SugarMagnolia

    This was absolutely fantastic. We so rarely got to go out to supper when I was a kid that it was such a treat when we did and Red Lobster was one of the best in my child-of-the-80s eyes. Now, I can’t think about it now without thinking about one of my good friends and roommates in college, who was actually the baker of the Cheddar Bay biscuits and would come home from her night shift reeking of biscuit smoke and burned on her arms from the baking sheets.

  • I truly enjoyed this post. My kids LOVE Red Lobster. Luckily for me, we are near one only once or twice a year, but we have to go every single time we are in the area. There are Crab Legs on the Kids Menu!!

    Those Cheddar Bay Biscuits also hold fond memories for me. I was recently sick in bed with Chikagunya (mosquito-borne tropical disease unknown in America), and I made my boy use some of our precious Bisquick that we’d carried in our luggage over from America to make me some copycat Cheddar Bay Biscuits. I was thinking that he’d messed up because they weren’t as good as I’d remembered from Red Lobster. But you are telling me that even Red Lobster’s non-copycat biscuits aren’t as good. Or maybe it’s because my boy is 10 years old and has an ill mom yelling, “Make me some biscuits, NOW!” at him.

    My father-in-law has a trick of always choosing the Coleslaw instead of the Salad. He asks them to bring the Coleslaw with his meal. When everyone else’s salads come out, the wait staff automatically brings him a salad, too. He gets BOTH. I just thought your frugal Italian relatives would appreciate that.

  • Loree

    I too made the mistake of trying to relive the childhood Red Lobster memory. It tasted like tears and disappointment. But I *have* managed to replicate Cheddar Bay biscuits the way they used to taste. Should I DM you next time I make a batch?

  • I loved the fact that I was just in Medford, where i grew up (I now live just south of Portland), and you have also just described the town; Rather average and not as good as I remember. Well done.

    Now, as far as the two years I spent in Ashland…it’s more like Omars; A little pricey but much more unique.

  • Patty

    The last and final time I went to Red Lobster, a client was trying to “treat” me to dinner. I tried every which way to not go but they cornered me with their gratitude of what a great job I was doing for them. The food was so bad, I had to fake eating it as I stuffed it in napkins and then sneaked it in my purse. Then I looked around at the tired décor, the huge people who were generally over 60 yrs old, and saw the poor fish tank with the lobsters in them. How can they do this to these poor guys, I thought. Never never again, AND they just painted the outside. Parking lot always looks full. WHO is eating this food????

  • Steve

    Spot on!

  • OMG this literally had me in tears I was laughing so hard. Go you! Thanks so much for this 🙂

  • Kristen

    This was great!! I had to read the whole thing to my husband. Love, love, love!

  • I just read your post out to my husband and we laughed so hard. We’re from New Zealand so have never been to a Red Lobster – although, no we feel like we have. What a hilarious post. Thank you for the Friday night entertainment!!

  • Growing up my mother always used to say “That’s how they get you” in reference to soda as well! Red Lobster also plays a large part in my childhood memories, so thanks for this!

  • “transubstantiated fats”–oh, that’s magnificent. And I was already awed by the 1000 post thing.

  • Jo

    Ha. When I was 7 my dad got remarried to a woman who was 100% Italian.. with 8 kids and Catholic. For this quiet, reserved German the arguments/discussions/debates for hour (or years) on end are exhausting, but at the same time I can’t imagine it any other way. I also romanticize Red Lobster and haven’t been there in years. I might leave it that way. Oh, and I am so jealous – my Italian step mom couldn’t cook worth anything. Fresh pasta? Yes, please!

  • River

    I have to chime in.

    I was a small child in the ‘60s, and where I lived, there was no such thing as Red Lobster. I didn’t experience *that* until I was fully an adult. What we had was a family-owned one-off called Spenger’s. As a tiny child, I was a crustacean fiend, and this has never changed; I enjoy ultra-fresh Dungeness crab every time I can, and by the time I was three, I could eat cracked crab on my own. One family tradition has been that the birthday person gets to choose the meal or the restaurant, and my choice was always fish or shellfish. I preferred Dungeness crab, but many years, that was off-budget and far out of reach, so it was fish for dinner at home. My mother cooks fish to a nicety, and it was never bad, but the same kind of least-expensive fish year after year gets boring. Back then, it was red snapper. These days it would be something like farmed tilapia, which I do not advise anyone to eat. Don’t eat farmed salmon, either, folks! You live in Seattle, Everywhereist, so you know this as well as I do: salmon farming threatens our native salmon.

    Anyway, Spenger’s. Back in about 2006, we went to the Bay Area for a few things, and one of the things we did there was to meet up with my first love, Kevin, at Spenger’s. It has changed ownership and was bought by a big corporation, not a family, but it’s still a one-off, it still has a *good* fresh seafood market where you can also get anything on the menu, and the seafood is still treated properly and stars in dishes rather than tasting like something else. My husband prefers a really good steak to seafood, and they’ve been known for their steaks for decades for good reason. He thoroughly enjoyed his. I found out that if you remember a particular dish from childhood and it isn’t on the menu any longer, they’ll make it to order just for you.

    I haven’t been there since 2006, but I’d probably go back unless Kevin tells me that it isn’t what it once was. Red Lobster isn’t a patch on it. Three Crabs on the Dungeness Spit can be, on a good night. I’m really picky about my seafood.

    The reason to go to Red Lobster is the biscuits, not the seafood. If you want good seafood, move to the coast and find a great one-off restaurant. If you’re in Seattle, try Elliott’s.

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On Instagram @theeverywhereist

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