When being “better than Red Lobster” is still a low bar
Every year, we go out for my father-in-law’s birthday — usually to Red Lobster because he’s a fan of crab legs. And every year, without fail, the food I order at Red Lobster either leaves me cradling the toilet or straddling it. Maybe I have a weak stomach. Perhaps seafood just isn’t my bag.
I don’t know.
This year, I got a reprieve, or so I thought. The family collectively decided to go to Pappadeux instead of Red Lobster. As we pulled into the parking lot, I could see it was packed. Yet, there was no wait to be seated because the restaurant itself is the size of a mall food court. I was immediately apprehensive, however, because the interior of the restaurant looked suspiciously like Red Lobster. The murky lobster tank, strip club lighting and overdressed waiters – it was all there.
And the menu was enormous. My experience with surf and turf at Red Lobster steered me away from the $45 version here (there’s only so much gristle I can handle in a steak I’m not preparing myself) and toward the Pappadeux Platter, a sampler containing every kind of fish the restaurant serves, but deep-fried.
They might as well have brought it in a wheelbarrow. Piled high on a white plate, and resting on a bed of fries, was the most unappetizing array of fish I had ever seen. Fried to a light brown but, luckily, devoid of visible oil, the Pappadeux Platter does for seafood what Chik-fil-a does for garbage-tier cuts of chicken: mask it in just enough breading to make it palatable.
I was not taken to Flavortown. I did not savor every bite. Really, I ate just enough bland, breaded fish to ensure I wouldn’t need to go sneaking off to Nadia’s Jack-o-Lantern full of candy she’s not allowed to eat. The last insult was the bill. My wife’s family loves Red Lobster, and they left Pappadeux disappointed. You have to mine really deep into the pits of mediocrity to charge more than Red Lobster, yet serve inferior food.
At least I haven’t felt the first signs of food poisoning — yet.