My general reaction is that chain restaurants are all the same, but I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised with the Red Lobster in St. Petersburg. We came here because it is right next door to our auto center, and was a good way to spend an hour while waiting for the car to be serviced.
We were here for lunch. The hostess seated us in the bar. While I would have preferred the dining room, our waiter made up for the inconvenience. He was very pleasant and attentive, and, since the room was empty when we arrived, it didn't matter that it was the bar.
We were served the signature cheddar biscuits which, as usual, were delicious. My partner and I both ordered the Sweet Chili Shrimp appetizer as an entrée with a regular dinner salad. After a time, our waiter came to inform us that they were out of the chili sauce, but offered to substitute their Thai sauce, and brought us a sample to taste. This, I suppose, is a drawback of dining in chain restaurants. While they're waiting for deliveries from the corporate warehouse, they are not at liberty to devise their own. But, the shrimp was cooked perfectly in a panko crust that was crispy, and the Thai sauce went just as well with it as the chili sauce would have, Did I mention that we ordered appetizers? The portion was so large that, with the addition of the salads, we could have shared one portion and still been happily sated at the end of the meal. The blue cheese salad dressing was creamy and tart, and the greens were surprisingly crisp, but I wish restaurants would learn that there's more to salad than throwing a few tomatoes into some mixed greens. It would have been much improved with the addition of some cucumber, peppers, and the like.
But, after all is said and done, we had a very tasty meal at a reasonable price.
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