Timothy S. Harlan, M.D. tells you what to eat and when in order to eat healthier, lose weight, and keep it off - permanently!
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I will admit that I wasn't looking forward to going to Red Lobster. I haven't been in one for years, because the last time I went the food was so terrible. I was, however, heartened by my experience at Ruby Tuesday. My expectations were fully met.
The odor is that of frying fish. It doesn't smell terrible, just greasy. Even so, it is a clean restaurant and the staff is friendly although the service is pretty terrible.
The best dish by far is the Garlic-Grilled Jumbo Shrimp. The dish is about a dozen large (not jumbo) shrimp on skewers that have been grilled. The seasoning is good and the shrimp aren't greasy. It comes with Wild Rice Pilaf that's OK at best but instead you can order a baked potato that's pretty good. Couple these choices with their seasoned broccoli and you have a pretty good meal at 402 calories and only 8 grams of fat.
Almost any of the grilled or broiled fish with the rice pilaf or a baked potato are good choices. There's salmon (of course), flounder, tilapia, rainbow trout and blackened catfish. If you like crab legs, these are going to be lower in calories and a good choice as well.
The side salad is good and can be chosen as an alternative to having the broccoli, but the only dressing worth eating is the red wine vinaigrette. The light ranch is OK but a bit bland. You can also get asparagus instead of the broccoli but there's an extra charge.
Another good selection would be to have a Shrimp Cocktail appetizer along with a side salad and a baked potato. That's only 317 calories and having a little butter and sour cream on the potato would be fine. (You might try moving to having sour cream on your baked potato with some black pepper. It's lower in fat and calories and has all of the rich flavor.)
While the food above wasn't great, it was good enough to recommend. And even though it goes without saying that you should avoid the fried food, I'll say it anyway -- don't eat the fried food.
Some things that looked promising were not. You've heard me say that pizza can be healthy and a good choice in restaurants. Not so here. This is a very thin crust described as “crisp” topped with cheese, tomato, lobster and shrimp. It is a greasy mess. The crust is anything but crisp and it tastes like it came out of the deep fat fryer.
My patients tell me all the time that they are eating better by having salads. As many of you already know, this is not necessarily the healthy choice in a restaurant, and the Seafood Caesar Salad at Red Lobster is a great example. Drenched in greasy tasting Caesar dressing and topped with equally greasy croutons and a ton of dried out parmesan, this is (like the pizza) just a mess of a dish. Ugh!
I had high hopes for the Broiled Seafood Platter. They let me substitute the stuffed flounder with broiled flounder and the rest of the dish has bay scallops and shrimp scampi. The flounder was OK and (as noted above) you can order it as a meal. Do that. Because the scallops, while tender and tasty, were swimming in butter. So was the shrimp scampi, but even worse the flavor was overpowered with both salt and garlic. A senseless waste of good shellfish.
All in all about what I expected. Pretty bad food, but there are a few choices that taste decent enough that if you had to go to Red Lobster you could eat better than you might think.