I spent $125 on dinner for 2 at Red Lobster. It was the most decadent meal I’ve ever eaten at a chain restaurant.

I spent $125 on dinner for 2 at Red Lobster. It was the most decadent meal I’ve ever eaten at...

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red lobster in times square and the author holding up shrimp fettuccini alfredo
Ahead of Valentine’s Day, we went to Red Lobster and ordered dinner for two, which included drinks, two appetizers, and two entrées.

  • In honor of Valentine’s Day, a friend and I had dinner for two at Red Lobster.
  • We ordered two appetizers, two entrées, and two signature cocktails.
  • I was impressed by the rich, decadent meal, and left feeling completely stuffed.

Red Lobster is arguably the most romantic chain restaurant, thanks to its focus on seafood and decadent dishes.

I took a friend out for dinner on a Saturday night at the chain’s Times Square location in New York City to determine if the hot spot is a good option for couples on Valentine’s Day.

From Red Lobster’s signature Cheddar Bay Biscuits to the glitter-filled cocktails, the meal felt more special than other chain restaurants I’ve been to.

However, I was a little intimidated by the prices on the menu.

Here’s what our visit was like.

A friend and I dined at Red Lobster in the heart of Times Square on a Saturday night. It was my first time eating at the chain.
red lobster times square
The outside of the Red Lobster restaurant in Times Square.

The first Red Lobster opened in Lakeland, Florida, in 1968. A family-owned restaurant, Red Lobster was founded to provide “delicious, high-quality seafood” to everyone, according to the restaurant’s website.

In 1970, Red Lobster was acquired by General Mills, according to the restaurant’s timeline online, and business expanded across the country. Today, Red Lobster has more than 700 locations across the world.

As it was my first time dining at a Red Lobster, I was eager to see how this restaurant compared to other chain restaurants I love, like Chili’s.

Since it was a Saturday night in Times Square, an extremely busy tourist destination, I made a reservation a few hours before arriving at the restaurant.

As we approached, I took in the large marquee that advertised the chain’s “fresh fish and live lobsters.” Along the side of the building was a large lobster. It was impossible to miss the restaurant’s name, similar to how other chains in Times Square advertise to draw in tourists.

Inside the restaurant, a fishnet-covered wall advertised the chain’s merchandise.
red lobster times square merch
Red Lobster merchandise hanging on a wall.

From vintage-inspired tees to a play on the iconic “I Heart NY” shirts — featuring a lobster in place of the “I” — the merchandise was fresh and a fun nod to both New York City and the restaurant.

After checking in with the hostess, we were directed up the elevator to the second-floor dining room.
red lobster times square dining room
The dining room inside Red Lobster.

We were seated in the Board Room of the restaurant, a smaller, enclosed dining room in the back.
red lobster times square dining room
The Board Room inside Red Lobster.

The room had five tables in various sizes. When we were seated, we were the only two people in the dining room.

It created a more private atmosphere, but we couldn’t help feeling a little awkward — we couldn’t hear any music from the main dining area, and we missed the buzz of being surrounded by other diners.

The art on the walls emphasized the chain’s nautical theme.
red lobster times square dining room
A painting on the wall at Red Lobster.

The walls themselves had a polished wood finish. We thought it gave the impression of being inside a luxury ocean liner.

The menu was large, and offered everything from appetizers and flatbreads to lobster, shrimp, crab, and signature surf-and-turf feasts.
red lobster times square menu
The menu at Red Lobster.

Right away, we were a little intimidated by the prices, which were higher than at other chain restaurants I’ve tried, including Chili’s and Applebees.

However, given that seafood is known to be more expensive than other cuisines, it probably shouldn’t have been all that surprising.

I decided to be mindful of the prices but also order a similar amount of food to what I’ve ordered at other chains, for comparison’s sake.

I had never been to Red Lobster before, so I was excited to try the chain’s signature Cheddar Bay Biscuits.
red lobster times square biscuits
Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits.

I’ve heard a lot about these biscuits over the years, and I’ve come across countless copycat recipes online. However, I had never dug into the real thing until this visit to Red Lobster.

We received a basket of four biscuits, free of charge.

The biscuit was buttery and fluffy.
red lobster times square cheddar bay biscuits
Red Lobster.

They also arrived at the table warm, which we appreciated.

The biscuits had a delightful cheesy taste, with a slight kick.
red lobster times square cheddar bay biscuits
Red Lobster.

The biscuits were moist and flavorful, and I could immediately see why they have such a devoted following.

We both ordered a Deep Sea Lobsterita, which is a new twist on the chain’s signature margarita.
red lobster times square lobsteritas
Red Lobster Deep Sea Lobsteritas.

The Deep Sea Lobsterita comes with Cazadores tequila blanco, Malibu coconut rum, and Finest Call blue curaçao.

Each margarita cost $15.99, excluding tax.

The margaritas were very large. They came topped with a pineapple garnish and a paper, glitter-covered lobster.
red lobster times square lobsteritas
Red Lobster Deep Sea Lobsteritas.

We ordered two appetizers for the table. The first was the Parrot Isle jumbo coconut shrimp.
red lobster times square coconut shrimp
Red Lobster Parrot Isle jumbo coconut shrimp.

The plate came with six pieces of coconut shrimp and a piña colada-flavored dipping sauce.

It cost $15.49, excluding tax.

The shrimp were extremely crispy, and the sweet coconut flaked off in my mouth with every bite.
red lobster times square coconut shrimp
Red Lobster Parrot Isle jumbo coconut shrimp.

The creamy, pineapple-flavored sauce added a delicious tartness to the coconut shrimp. I’ve never had this kind of sauce with fried shrimp before, and I was really impressed.

However, while I thought this dish was very tasty, I think the portion size was a little small for almost $16 for the serving.

The second appetizer we ordered was the lobster dip.
red lobster times square lobster dip and chips
Red Lobster lobster dip.

The menu said it was made with Maine and Langostino lobster, spinach, and artichoke in a three-cheese blend sauce. It came served with tortilla chips and pico de Gallo.

The lobster dip cost $17.99, excluding tax.

The dip was piping hot when it arrived and contained large pieces of lobster meat.
red lobster times square lobster dip
Red Lobster lobster dip.

The lobster meat was tender and juicy, and the dip itself was perfectly cheesy. I didn’t even realize it had artichokes in it when I ordered it but was pleasantly surprised by the addition. It was creamy, rich, flavorful, and filling.

My only complaint was that the chips served with the lobster were a touch oily. Combined with the richness of the dip, the dish left me feeling a bit weighed down.

By the time we were done with our filling appetizers, I was feeling a little bit intimidated by our main courses.
red lobster times square shrimp fettuccini alfredo
Red Lobster shrimp linguini Alfredo.

I ordered the Shrimp Your Way deal, which offered a variety of shrimp dishes. I could choose two from the menu and opted for a double serving of shrimp linguini Alfredo.

The Shrimp Your Way combination was among the least expensive entrée options on the menu. It cost $21 for the entrée, excluding tax.

The double serving of pasta was massive. I thought it was a great deal for the price.
red lobster times square shrimp fettuccini alfredo
Red Lobster shrimp linguini Alfredo.

The pasta tasted strongly of cheese, and there was a generous serving of Alfredo sauce that clung to each and every noodle.

The dish was slightly on the oilier side, but the shrimp tasted fresh and had a nicely grilled texture that amped up the flavor. While I liked the dish’s taste, it was on the heavier side — I definitely wouldn’t order any appetizers if I were to choose this again.

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Since it was my first time at Red Lobster, I had no idea what to expect regarding portion size. I would get this dish again, but go for the half portion next time.

It was just too much food, and I ended up taking half home for leftovers.

The carb-heavy dinner left me feeling stuffed, but I loved the taste of everything.
red lobster times square mashed potatoes
Red Lobster mashed potatoes.

In addition to the two shrimp dishes, I could choose a side from a number of options, including broccoli, orzo rice, mashed potatoes, fries, coleslaw, or a baked potato.

There were also premium sides to choose from, like bacon mac and cheese and crispy Brussels sprouts.

I chose the mashed potatoes, which I thought were creamy, buttery, and well-seasoned.

My friend ordered the grilled sea scallops and shrimp skewers.
red lobster times square shrimp scallop skewers
Red Lobster shrimp and scallop skewer meal.

The dish came with a skewer of grilled scallops, a skewer of grilled shrimp, rice, and the choice of two sides. She opted for the mashed potatoes and broccoli.

My friend thought the scallops and shrimp were hearty and nicely charred, as if they were actually roasted over a fire, and agreed with me that the mashed potatoes were creamy and herby.

She also agreed the portion was massive. She got six scallops and six pieces of shrimp, in addition to the three sides — by the end, we both felt extremely stuffed.

“Overall, the skewer meal felt lighter and healthier than the rich appetizers we shared,” she said.

The grilled sea scallops and shrimp skewers cost $28.99, excluding tax.

This was, by far, the most decadent meal I’ve ever eaten at a chain restaurant.
the author at red lobster in times square
The author eating her shrimp fettuccini Alfredo.

Whether you go to Red Lobster for Valentine’s Day, a special occasion, or just a regular Tuesday night, I think it’s a good option if you want to splurge a little on some fresh seafood.

The highlights from the meal were the coconut shrimp, lobster dip, and the shrimp and scallop skewers. We also enjoyed the Lobsterita cocktails and the complimentary Cheddar Bay Biscuits.

Our meal came to $125, excluding tip, for two appetizers, two large entreées with sides, and two large cocktails. I thought the meal was expensive, but most of the portions were bigger than any I’ve ever had at a chain restaurant.

For a special occasion, I wouldn’t mind spending that kind of money. However, for a standard Saturday night out, it was a little out of my budget for only two people.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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