Restaurant Review: Red Lobster

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

I took a trip to Maine for my birthday a few years back that I fondly remember as The Week of Lobster. I got to eat lobster in various incarnations for breakfast (lobster omelet!), lunch and dinner every single day.

The meal I remember most vividly was my very first lobster roll, ordered from a real-deal lobster shack.

As someone who's leery of mayonnaise-heavy meat "salads," I was initially apprehensive about the idea of a lobster roll. Purists insist nothing be added to the basic formula of lobster chunks plus mayo served on a top-split bun.

Magically, those three ingredients combine to make for a transcendent eating experience. The delicate, sweet-tasting meat gets even better once it's enrobed in creamy mayo, and the buttered bun adds warmth and saltiness. It's an ultimate simple-pleasures meal.

And so I was intrigued when I got an e-mail from Red Lobster touting the newest addition to its menu - New England Lobster Rolls ($15).

It seems odd that the stalwart seafood chain hasn't ever capitalized on lobster roll mania before now, but their marketing department assures they've never offered New England-style lobster rolls before this winter.

It's also weird to indulge in what is definitely a summertime treat during the winter, but I went for it anyway. Anything to rekindle memories of my lobster week.

Red Lobster refers to the rolls as "our twist on a New England classic," though there's nothing out of the ordinary here - only you get two small rolls instead of a nice big one.

The rolls are advertised as being buttery and toasted, but mine were a lot more similar to plain old (non-buttered) hot dog buns than I'd have liked.

And while the salad did indeed boast nice-sized chunks of real lobster meat, I'm sorry to report that there's just no comparison, tastewise, between fresh-from-the-ocean seafood and unmistakably defrosted stuff that's been shipped and stored in a fridge for a while. Smartly, no extraneous spices or herbs are added in, just a few unobtrusive bits of diced celery and onion.

These guys are fine in a pinch, but if you've never had the pleasure of tasting a genuine lobster roll before, please do not make this your first experience.

Red Lobster

Multiple locations