i’ve never been to a red robin before! i don’t know how this has happened, but it’s true. or at least it was, until today. today, when i went to a red robin.
they just finished putting together this brand new location on the brand new SR 56 in the brand new wiregrass shopping center in wesley chapel. a lot of new shit in wesley chapel. i guess that’s a good thing, if you hate trees. or if you like burgers. and i like burgers.
BUT i suppose there’s no reason to hold red robin responsible for the rapid expansion of wesley chapel, just the rapid expansion of my waistline. HAHAHAHA GET IT? GET IT?!?!
so red robin is a nice chain of restaurants providing the masses with “gourmet burgers”. i usually have doubts about chain restaurants providing gourmet anything, doubly so with gourmet burgers, but for some reason i had high hopes for the food here. i was supposed to meet a friend here, and i got there a bit early, so i went in to reserve a table, as they looked a bit busy (they always look a bit busy, probably because they just opened this month). i was immediately able to be sat at a high top table for two. but when my friend had gotten there, he had brought a friend. we were quickly and painlessly resat at a booth, despite the crowd. this i applaud.
we ordered a couple appetizers. first up:
wings, of course. “buzzard wings”, to be precise. after sending them back a few times, asking for real chicken wings, they insisted they actually were chicken. but why call them buzzard wings, red robin? why not robin wings? or just chicken wings? dubious as i was, i went ahead and ate them anyway. they were pretty decent, but clearly not red robin’s specialty. they were fried and coated in cayenne pepper sauce. they weren’t that spicy, and the sauce didn’t really meld that well with the wing, but that’s probably because they were made from buzzards. stick to what you know, señor robin.
and what they know is:
A TOWER O’ ONION RINGS. yes that’s right; red robin’s fanciful onion rings, served vertically for your amusement. okay, so it was a bit gimmicky, and i feel like there weren’t as many onion rings as i might get with a normal basketful, but the presentation is worth it. it comes with two dipping sauces positioned at the base of the shaft holding the rings, forming an edible dong of pleasure.
the onion rings were hot, crispy, and delicious. the batter they used was perfect, and the campfire dipping sauce (some sort of spicy, smokey chipotle, likely mayonnaise based sauce) was great, similar to the sauce you get with an awesome blossom, but without the horseradish kick in the nose. it was excellent.
and finally, the gourmet burger:
i went with the “burnin’ love burger”. of course i love spicy, and my desire to go with a more traditional burger was overwhelmed by my desire to “get fired up for the crisply fried jalapeño coins, tangy salsa and spicy pepper-jack cheese layered on top of [a] cayenne-seasoned burger… served on a jalapeño-cornmeal kaiser roll with chipotle mayo”. yeah that’s from their menu. i was actually tempted to get the banzai burger, whose menu description read as follows:
“Marinated in teriyaki & topped with grilled pineapple, Cheddar cheese, crisp lettuce, tomatoes and mayo. Dude, you’ll be like, ready to ride the pipeline on O’ahu’s North Shore after you chomp on this!
i was so turned off by the garish language of the stereotyped description that i wrote the burger off completely. IF YOU’RE GONNA WRITE BULLSHIT ON YOUR MENU, I’M GONNA EXPECT BULLSHIT ON MY PLATE. but i was perfectly fine getting “fired up” with a “burnin’ love burger”. and typing “edible dong” in a food review. go food monster!
the burger itself was delicious. i feel like this was a real “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” situation, which is saying a lot because the ingredients are all awesome on their own (especially crispy jalapeño coins… i mean come on!). but the flavors all came together in a great way, making the burger a sweet savory and spicy delicious mess. the hamburger was well prepared (you can get it with a little pink or well done, and i of course went with pink), and they used pretty good meat. it was quite filling, and i only got one patty. the bun was fucking awesome, and they offer a wide variety of other choices, all of which seem pretty good. maybe it could have used bacon. and i think guacamole might be a good addition to this burger. i wish it had been more spicy. but in general, it was delicious.
oh, and did i mention all their burgers come with bottomless steak fries? yeah. that’s a pretty good deal (although i didn’t care much for their fries… they were a bit bland).
what red robin seems to do right is offer a breadth of burger options that all have unique tastes. there are literally ten more burgers on their menu that i’d like to give a try, just because they all sound so interesting. and i believe i’ll get that chance, because i’ll certainly be going back. burger monger is a better deal for what you pay (the burgers at red robin are about ten bucks each), but red robin’s choices and atmosphere are all worth revisiting.