Here's a question for you:
What's the worst thing you can say on your way to lunch at Montclair's Little Saigon, where you're planning on having a big ol' hot bowl of pho and some of their wacky "egg rolls," wrapped in lettuce and dipped in nuoc cham. The answer is, of course, "Hey, let's try Red Robin for the hell of it."
I clearly have to remind myself more often that the people on roadfood.com and chowhound.com and citysearch.com, and any other open forum where anyone can post anything, for the most part, don't know what they're talking about. "Red Robin has a really good burger" I read somewhere. Why did I believe that for even one second? I suppose I really didn't. But I was curious. Once a seed gets planted in my head there's really no getting it out until it germinates. I'm obsessive and compulsive. Two wonderful traits. So yeah, I had no choice but to stop at Clifton's Red Robin.
Screaming kids. Teenagers. Cheerleaders. All of them seemed to be enjoying themselves. When I'm around any of those things, I tend to get annoyed. So we sat at the bar, where we were slightly less annoyed.
There's no point in belaboring this. The nachos were deemed "ok, actually". Some chili on top of crunchy tortilla. Not bad in reality. Bar food. Football-watching food. The lettuce in the middle? Just a waste of perfectly good food. I suppose people think this makes the dish look fancy.
We could have used more sour cream and less "guacamole". I assume that's what the green stuff was. It bore no resemblance to any avocado that I've ever seen. [rant]Why do restaurants serve this stuff? It's horrible. Absolutely horrible. Chemically tasting. Fake tasting. Nothing like the real thing. It's a waste of food. It's a waste of energy to grow those avocados, ship them, and process them, and then ship the final product. I'm offended that someone turns food into this stuff. It's just absolutely 100% pointless. Except that some people actually enjoy it. Have they ever had an avocado or freshly made guac, I have to wonder?[/rant]
So this burger comes out. It's pictured below. I swear, there's a burger in there. It's under the big, sweet, white-bread-as-middle-America bun. And the unripe tomato. And the wad of unmelted cheddar. Right there. Go ahead. Have a closer look. Click on it. Go ahead. Do it.
The patty itself was unseasoned to my palate, and over-processed. This, I'm relatively certain, is not freshly ground beef. It was pretty bad. I was, however, impressed that it actually came out essentially medium rare, as ordered. I was warned that it was going to be medium. Not sure if the kitchen was acting on my request, or this is how it's served to everyone.
There is certainly nothing "gourmet" about this burger, contrary to what Red Robin's moto line would have you think. "Gourmet my ass", I would say.
The fries are "bottomless" at Red Robin. I've never heard of such a thing. Now don't get me wrong, I don't think it's Red Robin's responsibility to make sure people don't get fat and unhealthy, but for fuck's sake, why promote something like free, unlimited fries? Do people actually get their burger and their fries, and say to the waitress, "Boy, I could really use another order of those fries." *sigh*
One theory is that this enables them to give you relatively few fries, thus wasting less food, while keeping gluttons from complaining. People who want more will ask, and those who really don't need more than 12 steak fries will feel sated. That's a nice theory. I think I'll go with it.
Oh, and they were just OK. Heavily seasoned with salt, which isn't a horrible thing.
The bright side? 2.50 pints of Sam Adams Winter Ale. That's quite a good deal I'd say.
Red Robin can be found in hotels and malls all across this great food-loving nation of ours, and locally in Clifton on Route 3.
tommy:eats can be found in and around NJ, usually taking one for the team, as he did today. you're welcome.