My weekday lunchtime habits have changed as of late. Working at a restaurant group with nearly 2,000 locations, I’ve been thinking about and eating at more chain restaurants than I ever did before. Fueled by a desire to scope out the competition and by genuine curiosity, I’ve been exploring places that I used to pay little mind to.
So while I usually dedicate this space to touting the merits of under-appreciated mom and pop shops, I thought it’d be fun to change things up a bit and shed some light on two permanent fixtures in the American dining landscape: Red Lobster and Olive Garden. Humor me, yes? Thank you.
First up, Red Lobster‘s Endless Shrimp®! For $17.99, I had my fill of six different shrimp preparations: Sriracha Grilled Shrimp, Parmesan Shrimp Scampi, Hand-Breaded Shrimp, Garlic Shrimp Scampi, Shrimp Linguini Alfredo, and Coconut Shrimp Bites.
The offer also included a salad (not pictured and not eaten) and unlimited Cheddar Bay Biscuits®. Whereas the former was anemic and sad, the latter were tasty lil’ carbohydrate bombs. We asked for seconds, thirds, and fourths. No joke.
Continue reading ‘Chain Reaction: Red Lobster’s Endless Shrimp® & Olive Garden’s Never Ending Pasta Bowl®’
Let’s just get this out of the way: Fishing with Dynamite is dynamite!
And might I add, far and away my favorite of Los Angeles’ modern seafood shacks (Ahem, Son of a Gun and Connie & Ted’s). From its steps-from-the-ocean locale to Chef David LeFevre’s fantastic cooking, everything about this spot hits the mark.
Considering The Astronomer’s and my collective adoration of Chef LeFevre’s M.B. Post, it took us far too long to make our way to its sister restaurant. The airy, 35-seat seafood haven pays homage to the summers the chef spent on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, as well as to Southern California’s beach communities, according to the restaurant’s website.
Prior to making his mark on Manhattan Beach’s dining scene, Chef LeFevre spent seven years at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago and six years as Executive Chef of Water Grill in Downtown Los Angeles.
Most everyone digs into pristine seafood, minimally fussed and chilled over ice, to start. We shared the smallest of the composed platters, “The S.S. Minnow” ($45), which was comprised of four lovely oysters, two meaty clams, four butter-poached shrimp, six steamed mussels, and half a lobster.
Continue reading ‘Fishing with Dynamite – Los Angeles (Manhattan Beach)’
For our final meal in Charleston, an extra-ordinary dinner at The Ordinary.
Our party of six was seated on the second floor of the former bank building, offering expansive views of the “Southern seafood hall” and oyster bar. I do believe that the award for the city with the grandest dining rooms goes to Charleston!
Adam Nemirow and Chef Mike Lata, the team behind Charleston’s beloved restaurant FIG, opened The Ordinary last year. The menu highlights the “merrior” of the Coastal Carolinas and the East Coast, according to the restaurant’s website.
I’m not quite sure how Hawaiian rolls ($4) fit into the local “merrior,” but no matter… As soon as I spotted them on the menu, I knew they had to be mine. Though not quite as sweet as King’s Hawaiian Rolls, these were warm, fluffy, and benefited from a generous slathering of butter.
Continue reading ‘The Ordinary – Charleston’
With the Ceviche Lover’s Guide to Los Angeles in hand, The Astronomer and I made our way to Mariscos Los Lechugas, where Jaime Lechuga, his wife Virginia, and their friend Epi Osuna have been selling Ensenada-style cocteles, tostadas, and tacos for the past decade on a serene-enough stretch of El Sereno.
Their colorfully painted trailer, which is hitched onto the back of a pickup truck, can be found on South Huntington Drive every day from 11 a.m. until early evening; it departs between 4 to 6 p.m., depending on customer demand and staff fatigue.
The Astronomer and I started off with a coctel. There’s one with just shrimp, another with both shrimp and octopus, and my selection, the “campechana” ($8), which included a bit of everything. The seafood, an array of shrimp, octopus, and tuna, was snappy and fresh, while the tangy tomato brew was well-balanced and terrific.
Continue reading ‘Mariscos Los Lechugas – Los Angeles (El Sereno)’