Thanks for the feedback, everyone! It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who has this kind of restaurant experiences. I looked at the Red Lobster photos online, but I can't tell from them how the dish is cooked. And I think most of the calories come form the potatoes that are served with it, which I planned to not eat, anyway.
Last night, I went to a Thai restaurant. Another challenge, because the group didn't want to choose a restaurant until we arrived, so I had only a couple of minutes to look up info (thank God for my smartphone!). Unfortunately, the restaurant wasn't a chain, so it wasn't listed in my "Restaurant Nutrition" app. --Any suggestions on a more comprehensive app?
However, I knew we were going out, so I went light on my breakfast and lunch calories and filled up on my water throughout the day, so I had some "spare" calories for dinner. I seem to be able to find an enjoyable restaurant meal just about anywhere for under 650 calories, if I'm careful.
Last night, the group wanted appetizers, and they chose spring rolls--I chose lettuce wraps. I had a lot more control over what I was eating since I could pick the ingredients myself. I always rely on another technique for restaurants: I drink lots of water with lemon. (It's easy when the waitstaff keeps refilling my glass!) And I always order hot tea at Asian restaurants, so I had lots of tasks (squeezing lemon, pouring tea) to keep my hands busy while everyone else was eating spring rolls.
I avoided dishes containing any of the trigger words Becky mentioned (stir-fried, sautéed, etc.) and asked my waitress how my chosen dish (ginger beef) was prepared. She wasn't very helpful, so I probed further, which I previously wouldn't have done. She didn't mind answering my questions, but she wasn't very knowledgeable, so I used my best judgement.
When I came home and tracked, I was happy to find my estimates were pretty accurate, and I'd consumed just about the correct number of calories! Plus, I can enjoy the leftovers again for lunch today.
Thanks to all of you for listening to me think through this process in writing--and for your helpful suggestions--and for your friendly camaraderie. It all helps! Cheers--