It’s that time of year again: A chill is in the air, everything that can be pumpkin spiced is pumpkin spiced, and Red Lobster is back with its Endless Shrimp promotion.
Truly conquering Endless Shrimp (and getting your money’s worth) is more challenging than it looks: You need to make sure you don’t fill up on appetizers, sides, and those sweet, sweet Cheddar Bay Biscuits; you need to be ready to devote at least a couple hours to it; and you need to decide in advance which dishes you absolutely need to order, because there’s a good possibility you won’t get through them all. Why? Because even though the menu advertises five options, there are actually ten shrimp preparations that they’ll prepare for you if you ask nicely. Yes, there’s an Endless Shrimp secret menu.
Every year sees a new addition or two to the core Endless Shrimp menu, and this year it’s Nashville Hot Shrimp and Mediterranean Shrimp that are joining mainstays Garlic Shrimp Scampi, Hand-Breaded Shrimp, and Shrimp Linguini Alfredo. We dropped by and sampled the new additions (for science), and had no qualms with them. The Nashville Hot Shrimp, while not exactly bearing much resemblance to its inspiration, Nashville Hot Chicken, were crispy and nicely spicy from a spice mix they’re tossed in post-frying, and a drizzle of honey was a nice touch. And the Mediterranean Shrimp were a good lighter option, drizzled with an oregano-heavy lemon herb sauce and topped with green onion and tomato.
But! Your options don’t end there. There are actually five additional off-menu items that they can prepare for you if they have them in stock. The five “secret menu” shrimp preparations are Cape Cod Kettle Chip-Crusted Shrimp, Panko-Crusted Red Shrimp, Coconut Bites, Popcorn Shrimp, and Garlic-Grilled Shrimp Skewers.
We managed to work our way through a few of these before having to throw in the towel: the Cape Cod Kettle Chip-Crusted Shrimp, the Coconut Bites, and the Garlic-Grilled Shrimp Skewers. The chip-crusted shrimp were much larger than the other shrimp offered, and the chips lent the crust some serious crunch factor. The Coconut Bites were tiny little shrimp, but they had that familiar coconut shrimp flavor that’s impossible to dislike (and the creamy piña colada sauce on the side was nice). But the real stars of the show were the Garlic-Grilled Shrimp Skewers. These were just lightly brushed with some garlic butter before being grilled, and they had a real pronounced grill flavor (a lot more so than the Mediterranean Shrimp) and just enough garlic and butter flavor to make itself known. It was almost — dare I say? — gourmet.
And by the way, if you’re having trouble finishing your order, your server will wrap it up for you so you can take it home. Make sure you ask him or her to toss some extra biscuits in your doggie bag, too — and don’t forget to tip them well, as they’re serving you a big multi-course meal!