Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Half-Assed Gourmand #7 (Birthday edition)

When the ‘rents and I still resided in Savannah, my Mom would get a wild hair every now and then and take both my Dad and me to lunch—and we’d dine at a number of various jernts: the Fairmont being my father’s particular favorite. The Fairmont is kind of a little out-of-the-way place (if being a stone’s throw from Abercorn, the main drag in Savannah, can be considered “out-of-the-way”) that serves it up buffet-style, and features on the bill of fare a lot of down-home Southern cooking—particularly some of the best fried chicken you’ll ever slide down your gullet. As a rule, my Mom didn’t care much for eating there because, as she once dryly remarked, “When I go in, the median age drops to seventy.” (She’s not kidding about this. You never saw so many wheelchairs and walkers in your life. I used to refer to the place as “God’s waiting room.”)

Mom’s favorite place for a little nosh at lunch was Red Lobster, which was located not too far from the Fairmont—and one thing I could never quite wrap my mind around was how popular that place was, because it always seemed to be packed even when we “staggered” our lunchtime to beat the crowd. The reason this had me flummoxed is because Savannah is about twenty minutes from the beach, and being so close to the coast there are a number of outstanding seafood restaurants to choose from. Red Lobster is an establishment that I associate with states and municipalities of a more land-locked variety, like West Virginia…or Iowa (my niece Rachel loves eating there). Yesterday, the ‘rents treated me to a birthday lunch to the Lobster in Athens and while it was a pleasurable experience, I still think there must be a better seafood shack in this town (it’s a bit further away from the ocean, but not so much that it couldn’t be shipped there relatively fresh).

My problem at Red Lobster is that I either don’t order the right thing (the commercials always make the food look luscious and the people scarfing it up act as if it’s the best meal experience of their miserable, pathetic lives) or I don’t know when to quit ordering. I got a cup of clam chowder and a Caesar salad (which came with the lunch I ordered—the salad, I mean) and munched on a couple of Cheddar biscuits in between. And that’s probably what I should have stuck with—maybe ordered a bowl of chowder for a bit more heft. I ordered a combo meal of shrimp and scallops that was aggressively average and the waitress looked at me like I had grown an extra head when I asked for a side of bleu cheese for my fries. My father ordered a flounder dinner that looked as if the catch of the day came right out of somebody’s aquarium. But I apologize if I sound like an ingrate—the food at Red Lobster can be quite good but again, the trick is knowing what to order…and I haven’t learned it yet.

I also wanted to take a little time out to thank a pair of individuals (with the traditional hearty handclasp) for making yesterday’s natal anniversary a lot of fun. My good friend “HouseT” (who blogs at House Rules!) singled me out for praise as his “Facebook Friend of the Week” on the award-winning podcast Planet Houston (you can download it here; the flattery starts at about the 22:38 mark), and all I have to do in return is insert a generous plug for “Mother” Houston’s Homemade Peanut-Butter-and-Chocolate Cookies here at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear every now and then. (Bites into cookie and beams at camera) Mmm…it’s snack-a-licious!

And Scott C.—proprietor of the blogosphere’s best political and pop culture satire weblog World O’Crap—dedicated a post to my birthday that had me rolling on the ground in hysterics, offering up individuals who shared my birthday (an idea I previously explored during the halcyon days at Salon Blogs) and an all-too-frightening-and-funny horoscope. My best friend Deb—a long-time Wo’C follower—was most impressed at seeing my name dropped over there, so that made things even more sweet.

A few posts back here at TDOY I mentioned a announcement that Image Entertainment was planning to bring the first thirteen episodes of The Jerry Lewis Show to DVD on October 13th. (The street date, incidentally, has now been bumped up two weeks to October 27th.) I was pretty certain that the Lewis program being released was the 1967-69 comedy-variety hour originally telecast on NBC, but Mark Evanier at newsfromme wasn’t so sure, as evidenced by this post.

I e-mailed Mark via Facebook and told him I was convinced that it was the NBC show (whether or not he read it remains unknown) because TVShows had “filed” that announcement under that description. But as it turns out, TVShows wasn’t so sure after all—until this week, when they posted some more info and confirmed that it was the NBC series (and Mark followed suit). I would just like to point out that I never wavered from my original assertion—and it’s not because I took an enormous gamble (I never gamble unless it’s a sure thing because I stink at gambling); it’s that it was the only venue that seemed to make sense. (I knew it couldn’t be the disastrous talk show he did for ABC in 1963; those tapes are sharing vault space with The Day the Clown Cried.) So I apologize if I sound sort of smug on this but—well, I kind of think I earned it.


Laughing Gravy said...

Without question, Red Lobster is the answer to the question, "What restaurant serves food that is never, ever, ever as good as you think it's going to be?"

VP81955 said...

You've got your netowrks mixed up. Lewis' 1963 Saturday night talk show (the 90-minute fiasco) ran on ABC; the variety show in the late sixties aired on NBC.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Well, that would explain the e-mail silence. Noted and corrected, Mr. P -- thanks for the prompt.

nunya said...

Red Lobster is definitely aggressively average, lol. What a great description :)

What I don't like about most corporate chains is that everything comes out of a box, a can, or the freezer and the chemicals (that we never had in our real food) taste nasty and smell nasty. There is TOO much flavor, and that can only be all of the chemicals and preservatives.

Stacia said...

I liked Red Lobster until about a decade ago, when I got some of their "gumbo" which was worse than the canned stuff. Then they started using obviously pre-packaged frozen fried shrimp. Once my husband and I got the same dinner, steak medium rare and shrimp, and my steak came out nasty and the shrimp burnt, while his was fine. The waiter even said "Your dinner looks kind of icky" and then WALKED OFF. Oh, and the waitress who gave our appetizer to another table, and when we asked her about it she shrieked "SOMEONE STOLE YOUR SHRIMP!"

Not going back. I don't think you can order the right thing from Red Lobster, anyway.

faustina said...

I never had any problem with Red Lobster, but I tended to order the one thing - shrimp scampi - that i knew to be good there. My father LOVED to go there, mostly for those lil' cheddar biscuits.
Glad you had such a fab birthday, kid!