When finding a weekly topic, I try to write about someplace unique. You know, I look for a place that’s indicative of its community. Yet, sometimes, I take interest in an alluring corporate business, which wouldn’t really boast local appeal. One of those chains, being kind of hip, struck me as pure fun. But since it’s a company with over 500 restaurants, you could experience it anywhere. So, I can’t say that it’s truly a travel topic. Despite that fact…I’m going to write about Red Robin. Why? Because I can!
I’ve heard of Red Robin for ages. The company got it’s start in 1969 near Seattle, Washington, the city of Grunge, Microsoft and Starbucks, and has been growing ever since. Yet, and I can’t believe it took me so long, I had never tried the place’s gourmet burgers. A poor taste happened upon my brain, due to a certain location’s facade, many years back…kind of like that first bite of an unsavory soy patty. Yet, I had learned of their craft burgers and hip decor. So the repulsion began to subside, and a mild allure began to seep into my dining cravings.
So on with the dining experience at Red Robin
It’s a Friday night, and I want a fun dining experience. I’m not celebrating anything, nor am I in need of escaping the confines of my home. I would just like to sit down and enjoy the buzz of a fashionable eatery, if only for an hour.
So, we enter a restaurant. This particular one resides on the end of a large strip mall. The name of the place, as it’s rather deceptively titled, is Red Robin. Don’t worry, they really don’t serve robin…bad joke? Yeah, probably. Actually, if you’re wondering, the name came from the line of a song. Long story, and not really that important, the owner just liked the song.
But, like I said, after a short wait, a wait that was spent in our car, we bound into this establishment. I have to admit, I’m kind of bummed about the location of our booth. The entire restaurant is both hip and classy in the same breath, chic decor, rock music and televisions tuned to sports programs set the tone. In addition to the trendy atmosphere, the scent of fried beef wafts through the air. Best said, this place boasts modern day Americana. I just wish we had a seat among the large, fashionable dining areas. Instead, we’re tucked away in a booth next to the kitchen, and separated from the bar or dining rooms.
When we receive our menu, I’m not sure what to think. There’s pros and cons on this large and diverse menu.
Let’s start with the drink list. If you’ve been reading my blogs thoroughly, you know this is pretty important- especially the beer list. They do have craft mixed drinks, with family oriented names such as sand in your pants (sex on the beach) which I guess is pretty cool. But as far as a good microbrew to wash down the fatty foods, it doesn’t exist. On the upside, I believe both soda’s and milk shakes are, what they call, bottomless – meaning you get endless refills. So, even if I’m disappointed with their drink list, there’s a couple plusses in there as well. I just didn’t like their beer choices.
The second drawback, and this won’t be a drawback for all, there’s just too much on the menu. I mean, there’s healthy options, like wraps and salads, which I guess is good. But, c’mon, it’s a burger joint. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of burgers to choose from, although I had hoped for slightly more creative concoctions. I also realize that if your with a family or group, not everyone may want a hamburger. But those that stick with what they’re best at usually come out on top. I hate to admit it, but I’ve been to like establishments with fewer choices, and the smaller menu kicked some serious tail.
On the flipside, the big plus happens to be their sides. They’re moderately priced and, as was the case with the sodas and shakes, they’re bottomless. Some sound delicious-which is pure music to the ears- the whistle of a songbird perhaps…horrible pun, I’ll work on that! Among the side options. an onion ring tower rises to the top of Red Robin’s selections….any better? Alright, I’m done with the puns.
So in short, if you have a group with a wide variety of palates, this place may suit every one. On the other hand, if you’re interested in a good beer and a seriously novel burger, you might be a tad disappointed. When I receive my avocado bacon burger, chosen because it sounded like the most adventurous, the beef patty was exceptionally delicious. And while that’s good, the wow factor simply wasn’t there.
Add the fact that their steak fries tasted as if they sat under a heat lamp too long, and it was a disappointing experience. The check was around forty bucks. I don’t know, it was a sit down restaurant with a cool ambiance, but, on the other hand, I ordered a burger, fries and a beer. I’ve had similar experiences for considerably less. That’s just my take.
So in closing, like many corporate restaurants focused on growth, it seems Red Robin is reaching for mass appeal. I’m a burger and beer fan. So when I go to a sit down restaurant that focuses on something like gourmet burgers, I want something I can devour-with a tasty brew to sip all the while. While the atmosphere was cool, I just didn’t feel that this place provided said experience. I think it’s a fun family outing. Yet with a menu so big, it’s hard sustain perfection with every selection. Maybe I just like smaller family owned, or just plain local, businesses.