Red Lobster has been making a concerted effort lately to stay on top of the latest dining trends, and last month the chain rolled out some new menu items that are definitely trendy: Tasting Plates and Globally-Inspired entrées.
The five Tasting Plates are quite small (and cost an average price of $4.99), but are clearly working overtime to dial up big flavors. These include Yucatan Shrimp (two jumbo shrimp with chile lime butter, caramelized pineapple, and jalapeños); a Petite Red Lobster Roll; Loaded Seaside Fries (fries topped with Monterey Jack cheese, clam strips, clam chowder, and green onions; Shrimp Potstickers; and Dragon Broccoli (fried broccoli with spicy sauce and fried chiles).
We had the opportunity to sample the Yucatan Shrimp and Shrimp Potstickers during a recent visit and were pretty impressed; the flavors in the former dish were bold and nicely complemented each other (a couple of slices of toasted bread were also included for sopping); and the fried potstickers were crispy, with big chunks of flavorful seasoned shrimp inside.
The four new Globally-Inspired entrées (which range in price from $10.49 to $16.99) are inspired by the cuisine of China, the Southwest, Mexico, and England, respectively: Dragon Shrimp (fried shrimp tossed in a spicy sauce); Southwest-Style Tacos (three tacos filled with either shrimp, chicken, tilapia, or lobster, topped with roasted corn, avocado salsa, and jalapeño ranch); Yucatan Tilapia and Shrimp (a scaled-up Yucatan Shrimp with wood-grilled tilapia added); and Fish and Chips.
Along with these new additions are a couple other new offerings: Diners can swap out the top sirloin in their surf and turf for a six-ounce filet mignon, and the garden salad has gotten an upgrade. The plates themselves have also gotten an upgrade, and all kitchens have gotten some new equipment, including lobster and crab pots and sauté stations. We tried the new filet, and it was tender and well-seasoned, nicely grilled to the requested medium rare.
With more than 700 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada, it’s always a challenge for a restaurant chain as large as Red Lobster to make system-wide changes, but as far as I can tell, these upgrades have gone off without a hitch.