Red Lobster Complaint - Poor Quality Food
There is a reason when people talk about Red Lobster they say "I had a craving for cheddar biscuits" or "Endless Shrimp is going on" and that is because nothing else is particularly remarkable. I've visited many of the Red Lobster locations in northern Georgia and Alabama and none really stick out from the others for good or bad reasons.
The staff is quite normal for a chain with about equal chances of getting a good waitress or one that hates her job/pay. This does mean though your food is just as likely to be prepared by a high school student as it is by someone that knows how to cook. The only thing notable is during their Endless Shrimp promotion it is even printed on the menu that you cannot pre-order more than one shrimp "refill" and you have to allow normal meal prep time to be served. Unless your waitress is great, in which case she deserves a nice tip, you are likely going to go through about an hour of eating 5 pieces of shrimp and waiting 10 minutes for 5 more pieces of shrimp.
The problem is their quality. Obviously being a chain most of their food comes in prepared and frozen. This wouldn't be too much of a problem except the quality of this frozen seafood is around the same as you can pick up from a bag in a Wal-mart freezer section. This old seafood coupled with the general lack of actual cooking means that sensitive lobster usually turn out rubbery, and anything fried is devoid of any moisture or texture. This is often overlooked by visitors because the seafood experience in this region is generally limited to Captain D's.
The pricing and portion sizes reflect this almost arrogance at being the defacto "fancy" seafood in the area. Meals range from between 13.50 and 28.50 at dinner. The only chains in this region that price higher are some steakhouses. Taste does not justify the charge as I discussed and neither does portion size. One example is the Admiral's Feast. This is typically priced at ~19 and comes with breaded shrimp, scallops, clam strips, and 2 fillet of haddock all fried. The fillets are the size typical of fast-food fish. The scallops are the size of popcorn chicken bites which pale in comparison in size and taste to the scallops served at most Chinese buffets. The clam strips barely fill the palm of my hand and usually suffer the most from overcooking. You typically get between 4-5 pieces of shrimp which would be adequate if the other portions were better. The main issue when ordering that meal is it is still served on a feast-sized platter which at one time would have been full of seafood now just serves to show you half an empty plate and leaves you wondering where the other half of your almost 20 dollar dinner went. I've tried all the "feasts" and all suffer from this downsizing. I was specifically irritated when an Ultimate Feast (at a 29 price tag) left me hungry because of the kid-size lobster tail and crab leg portions, and all of this after I was charged $3 for a substitution in what shrimp came with it even though I was substituting in a cheaper side of shrimp.
I cannot leave in a full complaint though. The locations have all been very clean and tables were spaced out nicely and gave good seating room. The non-seafood plates are actually of great quality. My wife specifically loves the Cajun Chicken Alfredo which in stark contrast to the seafood on the menu is not only one of their cheapest dinners but is served in very generous portions she can never finish. If their entire menu reflected this dish I probably wouldn't be writing this complaint.
More Reviews on Red Lobster: