Portland, OR – Red Robin

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First time in a Red Robin in over 20 years. Previous visits – we were regulars at the outlet in Calabasas, CA, when my kid was about 4. She liked the place then, would eschew it now as she’s a veggie. Tho the menu has some offerings even she would embrace. Bottomless fries?

In any case, I was out today, thought about Fuddruckers, but they are always (in my experience) incredibly slow, and I thought early Sunday at Red Robin might be different. I had a hankering to try their Italian burger (which I found out they don’t offer anymore), but that was ok, the “Bleu Ribbon” burger sounded tasty as well. Their menu describes it as: “A juicy burger basted with a tangy steak sauce and topped with crumbled Bleu cheese. Served with onion straws, lettuce, tomatoes and zesty Chipotle mayo on an onion bun.”

Ordinarily, I would have customized it to my liking, but decided to take it as presented to see what that was like. I ordered at 11:25AM, with the only query from the server being “you want a little pink or no pink?” So who doesn’t want a little pink? So that’s what I asked for.

I wasn’t really in a hurry, it’s Sunday which means NYT crossword, so I’m puzzling along, working my way through my second Diet Coke (bottomless soft drinks as well!) when at 11:49, 25 minutes after ordering, the waiter appeared with a basket of fries and said “sorry, the kitchen is a little slow today, don’t know why.” Ordinarily I would be a little bit steamed at that, but like I said, I’m doing my puzzle, examining the restaurant (about 20 % full, decorated for kids, but music for middle-aged folks), and reading labels as I usually do. I examine the Red Robin seasoning, taste a little, it’s like Season All, but with a bit more celery, a lot more garlic, and a bit of pepper(s). May have a little too much kick for mainstream, but I like it. I like all varieties of Seasoned Salt, but Tony Chachere’s is still the bomb to me.  The steak fries at RR have a light dusting of the house seasoning.  I’m surprised at that, what with the “kid theme”, I don’t think most kids would take to these fries.  But they are hot and fresh.

redrobin2 sign PNGBurger arrives at high noon, 35 minutes after ordering. I can’t imagine what the problem was, they aren’t very busy. Maybe everybody is outside dealing with people parking in the wrong place?

The presentation is somewhat pretty, with the burger nestled on a mess of onion strings (which were soggy, not crisp) on the bottom bun, the anointed sauces overflowing, a handful of shredded lettuce, and two tomato slices.   Looking at the table, I notice I have no flatware, so I use a large steak fry to rid the sandwich of the “dreaded shredded”, the tomato slices, and excess sauce.

I pull apart the sandwich to look at the rest of the ingredients, I would have liked more blue cheese, less sauce, and the burger appears to be a machine-formed replica of a hand-formed patty.

The website claims:  “Our ground beef is 100% select, fresh, never frozen, natural grain-fed beef that exceeds USDA standards.”

Well, if they say so, it must be so, I’m not sure what USDA standards they are referring to, to my palate, this is about an 80/20 blend, which as burgers go, is a little on the fatty (taste) side for me, tho I will frequently use this blend for ground meat dishes at home, just not for burgers.   Whether “fresh and never frozen” means it comes in the restaurant in bulk form, and they use a press for the shape, or whether the patties arrive unfrozen but already formed is anybody’s guess.

The onion roll has flecks of green in it, which are hopefully green onions, and not something else.

All in all, it’s ok, I don’t usually assign a rating to burgers, everyone has their own taste, but this time, I guess for me, this one comes in at a 5 out of a possible 8. One man’s “ugh” is another man’s “ahhhhh.”

I might hit RR in another 20 years,  but really see no reason to go back in the interim.  That is, unless the Italian burger with fried cheese shows up again! The slow service lost them points. (P.S. Sorry about the pic, only had the phone w/ me today).

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