Did you know Red Lobster is dangerous? Yeah. Me neither. Here’s how it happened. Right before Christmas, I ran in to the nearest Red Lobster to buy a gift card for Jake’s grandpa. I thought it would be a simple task, but when I walked in and smelled seafood I got sick to my stomach.Not because I don’t like seafood. I love seafood. This was something else. This was something I didn’t even realize I missed, and that “something” was Charleston, South Carolina. Now, as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t miss the person I was in Charleston. I don’t miss the dating scene in Charleston. I don’t miss humidity, but I do miss oysters from Charleston. I miss the ambience of gas-lamp-lit streets at night and cobblestone pathways. I miss the way every restaurant in Charleston smells like seafood and how you can sit on Shem Creek and have a beer while watching shrimp boats unload their bounty.
This realization, while standing in Red Lobster, was enough to make me sit at the bar and take deep breaths. I got all emotional! I know, me? Emotional? Unbelievable right? Ha. But seriously, when I got back to my car, I felt all shaky and desperate to be back in Charleston if only for a day.
I told Jake about it that night—the way the smell of a seafood restaurant had cast me back to 2008 and Charleston, the Most Beautiful City on Earth. Then, last weekend, Jake suggested we go on a date, but he wouldn’t tell me where we were going. First, we sat outside on the porch and drank Corona. No, it wasn’t because I particularly like Corona. It was because drinking Corona outside while watching a sunset reminded me of being in Charleston, where I did stuff like that all the time. We set off on our surprise date soon after, and what a surprise it was when Jake pulled into the parking lot of a mysterious restaurant called “Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen.” And what bliss when I walked in to the smell of seafood!
I can’t describe the joy. A wave of ecstatic enthusiasm washed over me like Atlantic Ocean foam. I could barely refrain from running up to the bar and shouting, “Oyster shooters! NOW! … And where are your raw oysters from? Galveston? Sure! I’ll take a dozen! …. You make a good Bloody Mary? Sure! Two of them! HOORAH!”
The place was packed, which is always a good sign. It was filled to exploding with a completely mixed demographic, which makes me truly believe that no one is immune to creatures of the sea. The wait staff was pleasant, funny, and accommodating. The oyster shooters weren’t as good as the ones on East Bay in Charleston, but nothing is perfect. The raw oysters themselves—served with rockin’ fresh horseradish—were practically orgasmic. I did my best to subdue my obnoxious moans of enjoyment, but I couldn’t help it. It had been months since my last raw oyster, and girlfriend has an addiction. The seared scallops were a little salty, but I ate every last one. Jake and I both cleaned our plates; we were so full, we barely made it home before we both fell asleep.
If you like seafood and you find yourself living in a land-locked state called Arizona, you have to try Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen. It’s like a pool of warm ocean water in the middle of the desert. It’ll bring back memories you never knew you had, and for a moment, you can pretend you’re sitting on a beach at dusk, watching Southern boys shuck oysters into ice-filled buckets.