Out and About: Trying Out Red Lobster’s New Seaside Express Lunch Menu on September 21, 2013

Confession…until this last Friday, I’d never eaten at a Red Lobster. I have seafood allergies, so I stayed clear. Until I was invited to try out their new Seaside Express Lunch concept.

Red Lobster Seaside Express Lunch bannerThe idea is that this is a fast lunch, but also a good meal at a good price. Still, I was worried my allergy wouldn’t allow me to sample anything but dessert…that is until I took a look at the menu. Not only were there some amazing seafood dishes, but there were burgers, chicken tacos, soups, salads, and more.

I decided to accept the invite, and along with Carol Garreans, our family reporter, we showed up at the E. Colonial location on Friday for lunch.

The procedure to order is simple. State you’re interested in the Seaside Express Lunch, and the host will direct you to a section of the restaurant reserved for those dining on this menu. You place your order and pay. Then you get your beverage and take your seat with a numbered card. A server will bring your food out to you. The idea is you still get a sit-down meal, but the process is speeded up slightly, making it perfect for those on a schedule, especially since you don’t have to wait for your check.

As I mentioned, the food choices were wonderful. We were brought samples of all three snacks: the Sweet Corn Fritters; Edamame pods with sea salt; and Sweet Chili Coco Shrimp Bites.

Red Lobster Sweet Corn Fritters
Red Lobster Sweet Corn Fritters

The fritters, fried balls of dough and corn dusted with powdered sugar, were my favorite of the three. They were small and slightly sweet. I got bold later in the meal and dipped them into some of the extra chile-ginger sauce I requested with my entree – I loved the sweet spicy combo! Carol and I agreed they would also be a good dessert if Red Lobster offered a side of icing for dipping (they currently don’t).

Red Lobster Sweet Chili Coco Shrimp Bites
Red Lobster Sweet Chili Coco Shrimp Bites (photo: C. Garreans)

Carol tried the shrimp bites and said they were delicious. The shrimp were covered in the chili-ginger sauce and coconut, and she said it had a lovely spicy tropical flavor. The edamame was good, but it’s hard to mess that up.

Red Lobster Sweet & Spicy Chicken Tacos
Red Lobster Sweet & Spicy Chicken Tacos with Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup

With the meal, you get one main dish, and one side (salad, soup or fries), and a non-alcoholic drink. I went with the Sweet & Spicy Chicken Tacos (also available with shrimp) as my main, and the Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup as my side. There were three tacos in soft flour shells filled with grilled chicken, cilantro slaw, pineapple salsa, and the chili-ginger sauce. Being a sauce hound, I requested extra of that. The tacos had a nice balanced flavor, a mixture of sweet and savory, with a hint of spice. Very delicious! The soup was also good, with plenty of chicken and a thick slightly spicy broth.

Red Lobster Lobster Grilled Cheese with Lobster Bisque
Red Lobster Lobster Grilled Cheese with Lobster Bisque (photo: C. Garreans)

After quizzing some of the staff, Carol went with the Lobster Lovers Grilled Cheese with a bowl of Lobster Bisque. The bisque is a favorite of hers, and she said it was very good. But she really enjoyed the sandwich, which had a blend of aged white cheddar, fontina, gruyere, and provolone, with a garlic-herb soft cheese that was similar to a boursin. It also had huge chunks of lobster in it, so they certainly don’t skimp on that.

Red Lobster Strawberry Shortcake and Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch
Red Lobster Strawberry Shortcake and Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch

For dessert, we had Strawberry Shortcake and Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch. Both were served in small glass mason jars, and were just the right size for a touch of sweetness at the end of the lunch. I loved there were a lot of strawberries in the first dessert, but there wasn’t much shortcake in the shortcake. It was more like strawberries and cream – though very tasty. The second dessert will satisfy the chocoholics, with a thick ribbon of dark chocolate in between the crunch, which Carol and I felt was a cross between a peanut butter cookie and the inside of a Butterfinger candy bar. There is also a cookie option on the menu.

Red Lobster Seaside Express Lunch Menu
Red Lobster Seaside Express Lunch Menu (photo: C.Garreans)

The prices are very reasonable for a quick sit-down lunch. Depending on what you order, prices are between $6.99 and $9.99, for a main, side, and drink. Mine was $7.99, and Carol’s was $8.99, with a 99 cent upcharge for the lobster bisque. Appetizers are 99 cents to $2.99, and desserts are 99 cents to $1.99.

We both feel this is a great concept, and could work really well, especially near business centers and convention areas. You get a quick meal, that’s better quality than fast food or a sub shop, and you don’t have to eat it in the car.

Currently, the Seaside Express Lunch is available at the E. Colonial and Sanford locations of Red Lobster from 11am to 2pm. All locations also currently have the “7 at $7.99 RLunch” promotion Monday through Friday.

Thanks to the Chefs and serving staff who took the time to answer all of our questions. As Carol said, I don’t think they were expecting a pop quiz. It was also nice to meet so many fellow Orlando bloggers, especially from the Central Florida Lady Bloggers Group!

Thanks also to Red Lobster for allowing us to sample this new dining concept. We think it’s a winner.

Want to try out the Seaside Express Lunch for yourself? Later this week, we’ll be giving away a gift certificate courtesy of Red Lobster, so keep an eye out for the announcement.

About Michelle Snow

Michelle is the owner and editor of CitySurfing Orlando. She also owns Zengrrl.com, is a freelance writer specializing in travel and entertainment, has authored/co-authored four guidebooks on Orlando and Florida, and is head editor/writer at TheDisneyBlog.com. She's lived in Orlando near Walt Disney World since 1995, and still finds there's so much fun to be had in Central Florida.
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