Oh, dear reader, I must report grave and serious events. These events occurred at the Red Lobster in West Des Moines, Iowa. The nature of these was unfortunate to experience and sad to remember. Beware, dear reader! Now that the homage to Lemony Snicket is over, let me explain why I was in Red Lobster. We had limited choices in the neighborhood and Mom likes seafood. Red Lobster was actually an important force to introduce seafood to Americans who knew only fish sticks. Mom has fond memories. I ordered the blackened salmon. (Perhaps you think blackening is an insult to good fish. All I can say is that I enjoy blackened fish every once in awhile.) The server asked if I wanted the small or large portion and I replied large. The other meals came in good order. My dish, however, had a small piece of salmon and a heap of shrimp with sauce. Our server explained that this was a New Orleans style. I reminded her that I had ordered the large piece of salmon. She asked me if I wanted to eat the dish she brought out instead. I reminded her that no, I did not. She took it back. A moment later, a manager appeared and tried to convince me to eat their mistake. I declined. Then I waited and waited. Once everyone else was close to finishing their meals, I explained to our server that if my dish did not arrive soon, I would cancel my order and eat down the street. A few minutes later, she came back to explain that my dish was not yet ready. I cancelled my order and asked for our check. A couple of minutes later, another manager appeared with a long story. I reminded him that I simply wanted my check. He eventually brought it and I gave him sufficient cash to require change. He took some time to return. When he did, he did not directly hand me my change but instead launched into a story. I asked him for the check. When I received it, I took my change and left. Mistakes do happen. But asking a customer to eat your mistake is not good restauranting. Repeatedly doing so over several layers of management compounds the error. Is it any surprise that the Red Lobster chain is in difficult circumstances?
Trev, Jan, and Karem took me to a wonderful evening at West End Grill located, appropriately enough, in the West End. The restaurant still has its old tin ceiling festooned with stained glass chandeliers. I was too hungry to take a picture of our appetizers: crab cakes and bleu cheese tarts. The crab cakes had just a bit of heat to them, something you don't always find in a crab cake but which worked very well. The bleu cheese tarts lived up to their intriguing premise, rich and tangy. This is my caprese salad. The mozzarella, tomato, and basil were all outstanding. The balsamic vinegar had been very well aged, giving it a thick consistency. My main course was tuna, perfectly prepared to a medium well. The tuna left just enough room for a chocolate lava cake paired with decaf coffee. The cake was rich and moist. I kept scraping my plate to be sure I retrieved all of the chocolate.