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Food Nostalgia: Lobster Fest at Red Lobster

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Every now and then, I'm reminded of a restaurant that I used to eat at, but haven't been to in a long time. Last weekend, I went to Red Lobster with my mother. As we walked through the entrance, I had a feeling of warm nostalgia flood through me. We used to eat here all the time when I was a child. Why had I stopped coming here?

It happened to be Red Lobster's Lobster Fest, so I ordered a large platter from the special menu. When the server began to ask me the usual questions of what kind of salad, side, etc., I provided rote answers from memory. When the Cheddar Bay Biscuits (aka cheesy poofs) came out, I found myself gobbling them up greedily. This was good stuff -- hot, buttery rolls oozing with cheese and grease. Delicious.

The salad was okay. Nothing special, but not bad. Then my entrée arrived. I had a Maine lobster tail, a skewer of garlicky shrimp, and something new called a shrimp and lobster bake, which was basically shrimp and lobster meat in a cheesy sauce topped with bread crumbs. Though everything looked quite good, it all tasted fairly standard. Not bad, but a little overcooked, and in the case of the shrimp and lobster bake, somewhat artificial.

I am ashamed to admit that I finished my whole plate. I tried to figure out why I ate so much subpar food, and I think the reason was that it looked so much better than it tasted. I kept eating in hopes that the next bite would be the magic one that would transcend the blandness of the others. That never happened.

The two of us each ordered an entrée and I added an iced tea. With tax and gratuity, the total came to more than $70. What had previously seemed like an innocuous meal suddenly became a mistake. We could have eaten somewhere really, really fantastic for $70, and even gotten dessert. I walked away knowing that although it would be a long time from now, this wasn't my last visit to Red Lobster.

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