Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Red Lobster
Elmhurst, NY
718-760-3050

Review by Diana

This chain/franchise place actually is not all that consistent. The next closest Red Lobster was about a mile east, in Rego Park. It was dark, grimy, and you were absolutely certain that the denizens they served you had not seen the ocean at any point in their life or death. In contrast, this one in Elmhurst (within the Queens Place mall) is bright, colorful, cheerful, and the food is good. (Of course, there is the distinct possibility that as the place ages, it will also get dark, dingy and scary, but for now, it's an improvement.)

It was a Friday during Lent, and the place was packed with Catholics thinking they were somehow doing the right thing. So we went somewhere else, and came back on Sunday.

We passed on the obvious stuff like clam chowder, which at franchises tends to stink. I've seen the stuff delivered, either in megasized cans or big frozen blocks that have to be chiseled and dumped into a big pot for heat-and-serve attention. Very frightening to even contemplate. So we got stuff that our overly enthusiastic but kind of clueless server, Jason, recommended (he didn't understand what we were asking when we asked for a list of microbrews, as stated on the menu ...). The man is into volume, recommending the Ultimate Feast (lobster tail, half a snow crab, a dish of shrimp scampi, a handful of fried butterflied shrimp, cheese biscuits, green salad, potato of some sort). We also got the shrimp cobb salad, and battered and fried calamari and veggies, and something called the New England Appetizer Sampler (bacon-wrapped scallops, seafood-stuffed mushrooms topped wth cheese, Ipswich clams -- breaded, fried clam strips, the best ones are made from softshell tails only! These weren't, but they weren't too bad). He also pushed the strawberry colada smoothie (instead of a microbrew!?), but we got something else.

To our great surprise, the food was fresh and the fried food was very well drained, crunchy, and not greasy. The seafood was not overcooked and the flesh was tender and very sweet. We took our time picking meat out of the crab legs and the fins of the lobster tail (we're pros!); we may have even frightened some children! The bacon-wrapped scallops were superb, not the shriveled things one encounters at appetizer parties, which consist of maybe a quarter of a scallop if you're lucky. These were big, whole ocean shellfish, and the cook among us suspected the bacon was steamed or boiled or otherwise parcooked before wrapping around tehe scallops, so that it was cooked and crispy when the scallops were done and NOT after!

The fried calamari, as a single item, was disappointing. The squid bits were way too small and there were no tentacles. But they made up for it by deep frying broccoli florets and red pepper strips and tossing them with the pipsqueak calamari. The combination was good, and we took leftovers home and sprinkled them over a salad as a sort of croûton.

Actually, we had a lot of leftovers, and had to decide how to strategize our eating. We decided to eat our Ultimate Feasts, the scallops and the stuffed mushrooms in the New England thingy, and took the rest home. We didn't even get a chance to touch the Cobb Salad (which was arranged much like R2D2's Chopped Salad for Padmé, only with the addition of boiled shrimp, shredded crabmeat, and fewer interesting veggies on top). Basically, we decided to finish there that which we didn't think would hold on transport and waiting.

For three of us, the bill came to about $25 apiece, not bad for a huge meal. We didn't eat again that day.

The plates were nice, too. They also gave us many more napkins and moist towlettes as the meal progressed. Some things are presented cryptically, but it all looked good, full parts for presentation!

Like I mentioned, we were surprised that it was good and fresh, we liked the decor, and we'd go back.


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