Ce Soir ou Jamais

tonight I write...or never

Saturday, November 19

Food Snob

Please remind me: never, never, never again order seafood at a 'chain' restaurant.

Last night, with a few hours to ourselves while our daughter prowled the zoo with her girl scout sisters learning night survival skills, we headed out to the theatah for some culture. Yup, we drove south toward strip mall heaven to the cinema with 16 screens and an endless sea of parking. We were set to view, no not Harry Potter, but Walk The Line. I am reminded over and over again to Fandango, but we thought we'd take a chance (at the high school dance) and hope that the 7 o'clock show was not sold out, being that Harry Potter was on just about all the other screens. Alas, no tickets for the Bo couple, so we swam through the sea of SUV's to the island of chain restaurants, one being Newport Bay. We'd never been, but being as we were cold and hungry, decided to give it a try. It was either there or Claim Jumper (which a visit there is another tale in itself.) This restaurant is billed as being local (many locations in Oregon) with a listing of 'fresh catches', so I thought, 'Great, I can get a piece of salmon and visit with my husband.'

There is a reason that my husband orders a burger at a place he has never been to; hesitant to try anything billed as 'Fresh'. He is a true seafood snob. Growing up in the Pacific NW, he is used to dining on catches brought into a restaurant that day from a local boat, or purchased from the local fishmonger. I, too, have had my tastes refined with living on the Chesapeake Bay for half my life. Last night's offering was probably the biggest disappointment in the decade plus that we have been dining out together.

I ordered crab and shrimp stuffed salmon, after choosing the appetizer of hot crab and artichoke dip. We were very hungry, each of us only having had breakfast that day, so we downed the chips and dip quickly, not taking the time to truly dissect that this appetizer contained entirely too much mayonnaise and salt. We waited patiently while our dinners were being cooked, our waitress letting us know that the entree I chose took just a bit longer to prepare than the other dishes. She made it sound as if I had ordered the chocolate souffle and every morsel would be well worth the wait. Twenty minutes later our food arrived and my face fell upon viewing. Salmon is supposed to be pink, not yellowish cream with an undertone of grey rose.

I went to take my first bite, asking my husband, "Can you find the salmon? It's hidden in a thick soup called the garlic lemon butter sauce!" I dipped my fork into the fillet, watching it then fall apart, oozing sauce and showing it's innards creamish grey pink, the color of being completely overcooked. Now wonder it took so long to prepare! They left it in the oven about 15 minutes more than they should, then tried to cover up the fact with ladles upon ladles of sauce. The crab and shrimp stuffing? Lots of cheese and shrimp bits! Our waitress returned to our table to ask how the meal was, my husband smiling with a mouth full of bacon and burger.

"Honestly, this salmon is completely overcooked. It's overpowered with this sauce and I have to say that I'm really disappointed with this meal."

"Oh, I am so sorry! This happens to be one of our best dishes and I recommend it to all our guests. You know, it is prepared in a lemon butter sauce."

"Thank you, yes, I know that it is supposed to prepared with sauce. Not soup. And look-the salmon is practically white and grey from the middle to the bottom. This dish has been overcooked."

"I can take it back and have another dish made for you. Would you like a burger?"

"No. You know, I had to wait 20 minutes for this dish, so I will just finish the vegetable. Thank you, though."

I took a bite of asparagus. Yes, I know. Asparagus. It's not asparagus season and I could taste that this vegetable had been prepared from frozen. I decided not to point this out to my waitress who most likely would not know any different. After all, it was obvious her eye was not trained to see at a glance if pink seafood was just that. Instead, I dipped my fries in the buttery soup. The manager of the restaurant then came to the table to say she was sorry and to offer any dessert on the menu on her! Wee! Dessert! Thanks, but I didn't have a hanker for a hunka mud pie; I wanted to enjoy some salmon.

I ended up paying the entire check, $17.99 for my plate of previously frozen and overcooked food, grumbling the entire time that management should have offered to comp the uneaten dish, rather than replace it with burger and cake. I decided not to fight it, instead, will never bring my business back to that establishment. I must have been in a low blood sugar fog to begin with, because if I were a chef in the northwest, I'd want to prepare seafood here, here, or even here.

My husband adding insult to injury with a 'See, this is why I always order a burger at a chain restaurant!'. Next time we are at Red Robin, I will remember this!


  • At 10:15 PM, Blogger Lora said…

    So sorry and thanks for the warning. After working for a quality seafood restaurant for a few years I admit I've adapted the same approach as your hubby, although I normally do for a generic chicken dish instead.


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