TV Ads More Tantalizing Than The Food At New Red Lobster

For years, area residents have been salivating over Red Lobster’s nationally televised ads that star plump prawns glistening in chafing dishes, crimson heaps of steaming lobster and succulent crab legs dangling over a plate.

Dang, mother, those are good-lookin’ vittles.

Last week, the national chain opened its much-anticipated Coeur d’Alene location and the waiting line for tables ran out the door.

However, after eating a mediocre meal there earlier this week, all I can say is that Red Lobster should give its advertising agency a huge bonus for coming up with such a tantalizing campaign.

The atmosphere is pleasant enough at Red Lobster. Rough-hewn wood walls are decorated with nautical knickknacks. The booths are comfortable and private. Service is lightning-quick and eager to please.

The menu is promising, offering an amazing array of seafood. A specials board lists swordfish, trout, walleye and the signature live Maine lobster - for about $28. Salmon, prawns, shrimp, catfish, mahi-mahi and scallops are on the regular lunch and dinner menus.

For those who prefer something that walks rather than swims, there’s prime rib, chicken and steaks.

All the right ingredients seem to be in place. But my lunch was disappointing from the get-go.

The “house” Caesar salad was made with iceberg lettuce and came smothered with a creamy ranch-like dressing.

The bland chowder’s predominant flavor was milk.

My blackened catfish was underseasoned and had a mushy texture. The accompanying fried shrimp were crunchy on the outside and had a fine flavor, but I’ve had better at Ivar’s.

My companion’s Sailor’s Platter had the fried shrimp, a piece of unnamed broiled white fish seasoned only with paprika, as far as we could determine, and some broiled scampi swimming in garlic butter. The latter item was the most enjoyable dish of the meal, with a rich, savory flavor.

Prices range from $5 to $7 at lunch and $10 to $28 at dinner. Entrees featured in TV ads run from $10 to $18.50.

I’ll probably be broiled at the stake for saying this, but, frankly, mother, I don’t understand what all the fuss is about.

The Coeur d’Alene Red Lobster is located at 212 Nieder, just south of Kmart on Highway 95. The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner. The phone number is (208) 667-3369, but they don’t take reservations. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Finnerty’s branches out

Tom Finnerty, of Red Lion Barbecue fame, is taking over the defunct Sea Galley just north of the Arena. Plans are to brighten up the atmosphere and offer a diverse, somewhat upscale menu. The place will be called Finnerty’s at the Arena.

“At the Red Lion, people eat our ribs and chicken with their hands. At the new place, we’ll actually have silverware and plates,” said Finnerty.

Target opening date is May 1. Stay tuned for further details.

II Moon shines all night

The II Moon Cafe is now open 24 hours on weekends. The inventive restaurant will serve breakfast beginning at 1 a.m. Saturday and will remain open continuously until 1 a.m. Monday.

During the rest of the week, a limited menu is available until 1 a.m., for late-night noshing.

Also, the restaurant has introduced an elaborate chef’s dinner the last Saturday of each month to showcase the talents of Steve Quinones. Seating for the multicourse feast is limited, so early reservations are advised. Call 747-6277 to save a spot.

So, what can this other-worldly joint possibly do to top itself?

Next up are plans for a casino, complete with blackjack tables.

Small bites

Salty’s at the Falls is throwing its first brewers dinner on March 12. The four-course meal will feature Hale’s Ales, chosen to complement the dishes. For instance, the popular brewery’s Pale Ale will be served with a beer, bacon and cheese soup. The main course, oven-roasted king salmon, will be accompanied by Hale’s Irish Ale. The dinner is $34.95 and advance reservations are required. Call 327-8888.

A gourmet vegetarian restaurant will open soon in downtown Spokane, in a space on Howard once occupied by The Grape and Grain. (You qualify as a Spokane old-timer if you recall when that now-defunct wine shop also baked bread.) Look for details in an upcoming column.

The Red Ruby restaurant in the Valley has gone belly up, but there’s speculation that another venerable Chinese restaurant is looking to take over that space.

A new lunch spot featuring Mediterranean fare has opened on the Gonzaga University campus. Bethlehem Delight serves daily specials such as stuffed grape leaves and lemon chicken, along with a variety of sandwiches and pastries, from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. weekdays in the basement of the Crosby Center. The public is welcome.

In a recent rundown of Coeur d’Alene dining developments, one spot slipped through the cracks. But, based on the rave of a friend, the Fourth Street Deli deserves mention.

The deli, which opened last fall, specializes in sandwiches and homemade soups but also creates amazing goodies. My source said the brownie he sampled was the best he had ever tasted. They make fountain treats, too, including banana splits and sundaes. The Fourth Street Deli is located at 842 N. Fourth. Call (208) 765-8935 for take-out or delivery orders.

Now that McDonald’s has killed the McLean Deluxe, at least one loyal lover of the golden arches suggests bringing back the McDLT, the burger that was eliminated to make way for the McLean.

For those who don’t recall the McDLT, it was a quarter-pounder with cheese served with top bun mayo, the lettuce and tomato in a separate container, to keep that part cool and crisp. McDLT lovers should begin a write-in, phone-in campaign immediately, while the grill is hot.

, DataTimes MEMO: Leslie Kelly can be contacted via E-mail at lesliek@spokesman.com or regular mail to Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210.

Leslie Kelly can be contacted via E-mail at lesliek@spokesman.com or regular mail to Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210.

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