See those dark storm clouds over head? They're the sign of a coming armageddon...and that armageddon is known as the all-you-can-jam-in-your-mouthhole delight that is shrimpfest. Now this would be a great time for me to mention I hate Red Lobster. Red Lobster is to seafood what KFC is to fried chicken - sure, it'll take care of a severe craving in a pinch...but no self respecting southerner would say that KFC is Fried Chicken. Likewise, no real "Seafood Lover" would ever call Red Lobster sea food. With that having been said...it's all you can eat shrimp, and I wanted to see just how many shrimp I really COULD eat. For starters I read this article, telling me all about how Red Lobster is out to trick you...and the rules made sense to me. Give it a once over - while most of it is logical (don't waste room on the freebies like rolls and salad) they're points worth reminding yourself of if you hope to injure yourself in a gluttonous pile of scampus minimus (that's the latin genus species for Shrimp scampi I believe).
It's worth mention, THAT guy ate 101 shrimp, so the bar was set pretty high, but I wanted to beat that 101.
Before embarking on a quest as disgusting/stupid as this one, it's really important that you have a good cheering section and, even better, someone who will participate in this utter ridiculousness WITH you. For this particular event, my pre-wife Cynthia would be joining me. This is us - before any shrimp have been consumed. Note that we are both wearing our exercise shirts because, as I figured it, eating shrimp by the hundred was going to be a lot of damn work.
So we arrived at our local RL, stomachs ready, having had nothing but coffee for our morning meal. I was hungry. Cynthia was hungry. We were ready to tear into things. I wish I had taken more pictures of the restaurant because it was really a little bit depressing: dark wood, high walls, and maybe a half dozen customers in the whole place. We were seated and after 10 minutes hadn't seen a wait-person. I confirmed with the dude at the front desk that yes, shrimpfest was on...and yes, our waitress would be over shortly. Upon her arrival, RL's deception and evil immediately began: Cheddar Bay biscuits, hot and steamy on our table. They smelled delightful, looked amazing, and were incredibly tempting in our hungry state. See here:
Now listen to me people. No matter how good they smell, no matter how much you want to, DO NOT EAT THE FUCKING BISCUITS. I'm serious here. Leave them on the goddamn table. Gizmo is cute as a mothereffer, but if you feed him after midnight bad shit happens. Same thing here, but with those delicious goddamn biscuits. JUST DONT DO IT (we cheated and just ate one - we forgot our big ass ziplock bag at home, as we had intended on bringing these little balls-of-cheese-filled-heaven home with us).
Next up, our waitress (a lovely young lady named Austin) offered us salad. She didn't seem particularly disturbed by the fact that we not only said no, but hell no, and then threw things at her. We wanted shrimp. Take away the salad and bring me some FREAKIN SHRIMP.
Yep there they are. Six options (and yes, we asked if they had "special off menu" items...no go at this particular RL) that would be our company over the next couple of hours. Yes, we spent multiple hours doing this, but more on that later. Before we get into the marathon and feedback on what we ate and how we felt about it, lets review each menu item.
What she thought: This seemed like the healthiest choice. The only grilled shrimp on the menu, the sriracha was hit or miss because it was basically grilled shrimp that they sprayed some sriracha onto. Some of them got it, some of them didn't. This is the one that we had the most and we both enjoyed it. I'd probably eat it again without it being part of shrimpfest, but definitely not in the same quantity.
What he thought: Honestly this was my favorite of the items that we had today. My last 40 or so shrimp were ALL the sriracha ones. They're grilled so you weren't wasting a lot of room on breading. Also, to be honest, by the time you've stuffed 60 shrimp down your face you aren't really tasting much of anything...these were the only option that had a strong enough flavor to still be moderately enjoyable.
Parmesan Shrimp Scampi
What he thought: I was honestly a little afraid of this one. The commercial tried to make it look like it was globbed with melted cheese...and the result, in the commercial, was that it looked like shrimp swimming in a giant bowl of snot. Thankfully the real thing, while sprinkled with cheese, did not resemble Kraft dinner OR snot in any way. The sauce was fairly light, the shrimp a smidge mushy but with a pleasant taste. Not my favorite of the bunch, but certainly acceptable as fast-food scampi goes.
What she thought: Delicious. Soaking in butter, oil, salt, and sprinkled in cheese (deep sigh)...it was all the things I love about the garlic scampi, but with cheese.
Hand Breaded Shrimp
What he thought: Probably my least favorite of the items on the menu - just your regular old breaded shrimp. VERY salty, served with a cocktail sauce that is way, way, WAY too much like ketchup for my taste. Certainly nothing to hate, but I only ordered these guys once, and didn't enjoy them even a little bit.
What she thought: The hand breaded were pretty standard, about what you would expect. Because they're small, they more closely resembled popcorn shrimp but not as deep fried. Tasty, but more breading than shrimp. This is one of two options that come with a dipping sauce. #1, I wasn't sure if it was cocktail sauce or ketchup, even after dipping my finger into. The tartar sauce...just no. Just don't.
Garlic Shrimp Scampi
What he thought: Good shit. This is the classic scampi that I can remember eating at plenty of places. It's certainly not going to compete with scampi from a GOOD restaurant, but as fast food type stuff goes it is very, very not bad. The shrimp are tasty and they're soaked in garlic, oil, and butter...honestly, it's kind of hard to go wrong with that combination.
What she thought: Salted, buttery, garlicy, happiness. This is precisely what I want fast food shrimp to taste like. I don't recommend eating more than 10 of these. I could feel my arteries hardening as the last one slid down. There's no chewing: they're so soaked in oil, and butter, and fat that they just go right down - you don't even have to try. Also, I can still taste them several hours later.
Shrimp Linguini Alfredo
What he thought: So this is one of those "gotcha" menu items. It's got shrimp on it, but they're smaller than the shrimp on most of the other dishes. They're served in a sauce that is just GLOBBED with cream and butter, and a decent sized scoop of linguini. All of those things make this one to avoid - it will fill you up and, honestly, unless you're prepared to tear into the biscuits and dunk em into the sauce, it's just not worth it.
What she thought: *Zerbert noise* The shrimp themselves are absolutely nothing to write home about. They're small, they're bland, they're coated in fat and butter so you'd think I'd like them more. But they reminded me of eating packing peanuts also coated in fat and butter. While delicious and we ate all of them, just no. The sauce itself is tricky, because when it comes out it looks very buttery and creamy and you can see little slivers of parmesan resting on top of it. Very appealing. One bite of the noodles lets you know that this is not a place to get noodles. Also if your waitress doesn't collect the plate in less than 15 minutes, you get to see what that sauce becomes: gray-ass paste. Watching it coagulate made me sad that I put anything that came from it into my mouth.
Coconut Shrimp Bites
What he thought: OK so this was the first thing I had and it was a good place to start. A lot more breading than shrimp so I was careful to only have 2 plates of it during our meal, but it's delicious. Looks like popcorn shrimp, but has a delicious sweet coconut crust on it before it's tossed into a deep fryer. The colada sauce added even more sweetness to it which, after eating tons of stuff in butter/garlic/oil, was a nice change of pace and exactly what my mouth and stomach were crying for. There was no way I was eating cake at the end of the meal, so this was as close as I could get to dessert.
What she thought: Oh my god. If I had more room this would be thing that I would have had a hundred of. They're delicious. I'm sure there's something terribly wrong with the way they're being prepared, because they're that good. I chose this as my shrimp to cross the finish line because I wanted to celebrate its deliciousness. Much like the breaded shrimp however, more breading than shrimp. I DID enjoy the pina colada sauce. The weirdest thing to me about loving this shrimp as much as I did, is that I don't like coconut...but this shrimp is a thing of beauty.
How we scored it
So because the shrimp came in different sizes and whatnot we wanted to standardize how we were going to keep score. It wouldn't make sense, after all, for the little tiny alfredo shrimp to count as a whole shrimp, when the sriracha were much larger. So what we came up with was this (and RL seemed to agree since there were twice as many on the dishes that we counted differently)
All dishes - each shrimp was 1 EXCEPT
Alfredo, and Coconut - 2 shrimp = 1 (seemed like they were all half shrimp).
It's also worth mention that I had no intention to keeping count on a piece of paper or anything, so I downloaded a pitch counting app on my phone. Worked really well just to tap away and update quantities as each successive plate went by.
For those who aren't aware, the way shrimpfest works is this: you order your first plate picking two of the six above mentioned shrimp dishes. As you finish, they will bring you one order at a time until you've had enough. So you start the meal with, give or take, 20 shrimp, and each successive plate is 10 shrimp. Got it? Slammin, let's get into this thing.
The First Plates
Yes that's my first plate. Yes, it normally comes with a potato, and yes I told the waitress that I had no interest in a potato, I was here for the shrimp (and yes, at some point around halfway through our meal I mentioned that I was doing this for the experience and a story to be written). That's some parmesan scampi and some coconut shrimp right there. That's also some green beans that would be shunned, ignored, and eventually cleared from the table mostly untouched because, I mean...clearly not shrimp, amirite?
Cynthia's first plate looked thusly:
It's worth mention that the fries were sent back, and for some reason we paid the 3 buck upcharge to get asparagus that also went largely uneaten (though as soaked in butter as it was, it was both hard to resist, and hard to call it a vegetable). What she has there is the hand breaded shrimp, and the sriracha.
So, hungry as we were, those first plates went down real, real easy. We actually ordered our second plate when the first ones were delivered. We both figured we could do some serious damage when we set our minds to it, so 30 shrimp were not even going to come CLOSE to filling the tanks.
Now the funny thing about shrimp is that it goes down quite easily and, honestly, it really doesn't feel like you're getting all that full. 30 shrimp in and we were both going strong...in fact, I was actually still hungry at that point. One of the drawbacks to this shrimpfest thing, however, is that other "Gotcha" from RL - they keep you waiting, giving your stomach time to develop a case of "full". It's why they don't do it buffet style. On average we were waiting around 10-15 minutes between rounds of food, even though the restaurant was empty.
It did get to be a little frustrating - though I feel like we countered that pretty nicely by eating fast, taking regular walks outside to "Shake the food down" and wandering to the bathroom on an as needed basis. We also kept drinking to a minimum, though the salt content of most of the dishes DID keep us drinking water at a rate a little faster than I'd have preferred. Valuable space being filled with not-shrimp there.
How we felt through the rounds:
20 shrimp - oh please, it's like we haven't even eaten yet
30 shrimp - Pfft, bring that shit on already, I'm freakin hungry
40 shrimp - hey, I'm starting to feel that a little bit...I mean, I can still definitely tuck more away, but I'm starting to think that 100 might be too much - not sure I'm going to make it. If we left right now, I'd walk away satisfied.
50 shrimp - I'm full...I don't want anymore shrimp, and I don't think I can contin...*BELCH* - ok I'm good to go, bring more shrimp please, Austin
60 shrimp - Also, beer. Honestly, at this point I was still feeling okay, though Cynthia was starting to get a little bit concerned:
70 shrimp - This is ridiculous. We're disgusting. It was about this time that we started discussing how unfortunate it is that there are starving children in the world who just don't live close enough to a Red Lobster to enjoy shrimpfest. Also, reminded my pescatarian fiance' that she's just killed and eaten 70 entire animals. She reconciles her feelings about this and orders more of the sriracha
80 shrimp - Dude, I'm gonna boot. I can't possibly eat more shrimp. I mean...shit, we're only 20 from 100, but I'm really hurting...maybe I'll just eat the sriracha ones moving forward. Also worth mention at this point the waitress asked to take our picture - evidently we're the first completely fucking disgusting customers that she's had, and her manager wanted to hang our picture on the wall
90 shrimp - Pfft, we're just about there. Lets power home
100 shrimp - I'm not going to taste these shrimp, I just need to get 'em in...and I did so. Seen here. And yes, those shits were hot and hurting my fingers.
And yes, we ordered one more plate of sriracha between us. That put our total count at 105 shrimp each, beating the dude who wrote the article on the crap Red Lobster didn't want you to know. So yea, that dude, gauntlet thrown. By the way, here's what it looks like when you have emptied the plate meaning that you finished 105 goddamn shrimp over the course of about two and a half hours. We kinda tried to write 105 in the sauce, but it didn't really turn out so well.
Oddly, we both came away saying that we felt like we could have eaten more. We both knew we were certainly full (normal meal day, 30-40 would have been our limit most likely) but we really weren't hurting the way I have been after leaving, say, a Brazilian steakhouse, or a hibachi place. While we're certainly not quite the smiling mofos we were when we walked in, we were both still feeling okay about life in general, and even had some errands in mind to run.
We followed the rules and didn't waste time or room on the free shit, and powered through the shrimp. I sat down to try to figure out if we got our money's worth (though I'm pretty sure we did, being that we were fucking disgusting)...and here's about how it shook out:
Small frozen shrimp are around 9 bucks a pound, with give or take 25 to a pound. So we each downed around 3-4 lbs of shrimp which is both repulsive and impressive, if I do say so myself. So figure 27-36 dollars each with the price tag of the shrimpfest being 16.99 a head. So we definitely ate way, way, WAY more than our money's worth...before incorporating a giant sized tip (which I do highly recommend...service may be slow, but when bringing 10 shrimp at a time, Austin had to make many, MANY trips to visit us).
Around 25 minutes after leaving, rot gut set in. Neither one of us was feeling terribly happy with the direction our lives had taken, and by the time we were walking around Target picking up some stuff, I was more or less hunched over our shopping cart and begging Cynthia to walk slower. When we got home I tried playing "not it" as to who would walk the dogs...but we just both went instead (it was the utter shittest quickest around the block piece of crap walk of all time). We both felt kinda like death warmed over, and both wanted to die.
Around 2 hours later we were both feeling a lot better and oddly were both craving something sweet - again, I would assume, because of the large quantity of salt and butter that we had already thrown down. Nothing big, mind you, though we did each chomp down an Oreo or two, just to get the "something sweet" feeling going.
Look, Shrimpfest is fine when done like a normal human being. Doing it the way we did it here, is fucking stupid. We, in essence, did NOTHING with our day except shrimpfest. We accomplished a couple little things here and there, but honestly? If you ask me what I did today, it was eat shrimp...eat more shrimp, and then hold my stomach and cry while rocking back and forth. I actually took a day off of work, and this is how I spent it. Several hours later, I'm still digesting, and my skin still feels like butter from the amount of crap that went in my face hole. Cynthia seems to have recovered well, though every now and again she gets a sad look in her eye, clutches her stomach, and wipes away a single tear. I do not think it's a tear of joy.