1/2 There's nothing like spending your Saturday evening at a Red Lobster in Hicksville, NY to make you question your life. I'd spent a long grueling afternoon at the Long Island Ikea and wouldn't have minded simply getting a meatball special in the cafe, but they'd closed it early. I was a little crushed, but only temporarily since it took no time at all for my eyes to zero in on the Red Lobster sign glowing across the street. Suburban paradise was beckoning.
Maybe I get a rush from Red Lobster because we didn't have them where I lived growing up. It's still novel to me. In fact, the second weekend I lived in New York, I ended up at a Red Lobster in Baldwin, Long Island and got my first dose of culture shock. The place was packed, there was an hour wait, everyone was done up in their Sunday best and my party was all bedraggled and sandy (we'd just come from Jones Beach) and we were the only white people as far as the eye could see (for reference, Portland is like 98% white).
This wasn't an exact replica of that experience, but they did have the long wait (and the accompanying "beepers" so you can smoke in the parking lot and not miss your table), the families and couples on their big night out, and the wonderful decor (I liked the way they used five-for-a-dollar, thrift store staple books like "Love Story" piled on dividers to add a homey, maritime touch). It was all on the mark.
After skimming the menu, I came to the conclusion that everything comes covered with cream sauce or cheese, but since I'm a demon for dairy this was not an issue. Combo platters seemed to be the big sellers with all sorts of "for $5 more" add-ons like extra crab legs, shrimp on your salad, and the like. We started off with stuffed shrimp covered in bacon and served with cilantro ranch dip and pico de gallo. Cool, creamy and cheesy all at once.
It wouldn't be right to turn down a colorful cocktail so I opted for the Alotta Colada and James had a Lobsterita. I wasn't prepared for the enormity of these drinks–it was like taking a normal sized martini glass and increasing the size five-fold. Small children were gaping in amazement (seriously). We then got into a heated debate over what we thought the drinks would cost (each table has this tempting picture book full of foofy drinks and shots containing things like Midori and Southern Comfort, but with no prices listed). He guessed $10 and I swore that no non-Manhattanite would ever pay such a price (myself, included), and estimated $7.95. They ended up only being $5.99 each–talk about sticker shock!
I ate my Seafood Platter with stuffed flounder and a sampler of scallops, shrimp and crab dip covered in cheese to the soft strains of Bruce Hornsby and the Range and Vonda Shepherd doing that lovely "Ally McBeal" theme. Did I mention that dinner came with potatoes mashed with white cheddar and a large basket of their signature "Cheddar Bay Biscuits."? Fish may be heart-healthy, but the cardiac conscious would be well advised to steer clear. One girl's dream meal may be a lactose intolerant's nightmare.
Red Lobster * 1 Nevada St., Hicksville, NY