I was watching TV with my roommate last night, when the topic of conversation somehow landed on Red Robin. Neither of us can remember how it came up, but once it did, we were doomed. “I’m gonna go get online and see where the nearest Red Robin is,” Gabe said. 5 minutes later, I’m in the middle of changing strings on my guitar and he tells me there’s one in Carmel, which is just north of Indianapolis. About an hour’s drive or so. Thinking about a burger from Red Robin apparently lit a fire under Gabe’s ass, because he was practically already in the car on the way there. All he needed was me to come along. I hesitated for a moment, but I just couldn’t turn down the opportunity to have my first taste of a Red Robin burger. I’d heard good things, and I’d always wanted to try one. Little did I know there was one within driving distance! So after a quick fill-up at the gas station, we headed up to Carmel for a meal that was sure to overload my stomach. Seriously, I wasn’t even hungry. The trip was easy, thanks to the super-sweet GPS feature on Gabe’s Iphone. Trips to Indy can be messy for out-of-towners, but we had no problems at all.
Red Robin is a pretty badass place, visually. There’s a seemingly random mish-mash of crap all over the walls, and it could easily be too busy looking. But it worked. In the waiting area (which we didn’t need since we got there at 9pm), there is a FREAKING TELEVISION IN THE FLOOR. Yeah, an actual TV in the floor. It’s protected by a thick layer of plexiglass, but you can sit and watch TV while you wait for your table. The place was practically deserted, and we were seated promptly. I ordered the Burnin’ Love burger, which is described on the menu thusly:
You’ll get fired up for the crispy-fried jalapeno rings, tangy salsa, and spicy Pepper-Jack cheese layered on top of our cayenne-seasoned burger. It’s topped with shredded lettuce and tomato to cool things off and served on a jalapeno-cornmeal Kaiser roll with Chipotle mayo.
Anyone who knows me is aware of my inability to pass up an allegedly spicy food item. If it’s hot and spicy, I’m on it. The burger arrived medium-well, just like I ordered. The meat was excellent, and had a great lightly seasoned flavor. It tasted like it had been cooked on a grill in my backyard. The lettuce and tomato were too much, and the tomato left the bun quite soggy as I neared the end of the sandwich. I’m NOT a “lettuce and tomato” kind of guy, but I figured I’d take the burger as it was intended since this was my first Red Robin visit. The massive amount of lettuce distracted me from the rest of the burger, but it wasn’t bad lettuce. The fried jalapeno rings were devoid of heat, but were a nice flavor and texture addition. The salsa wasn’t spectacular, but it was solid. The pepperjack cheese was very good, but I could have used one more slice on the burger. The mayo was a good, subtle addition, and didn’t overpower or “goop up” the sandwich at all. Finally, the Kaiser bun wasn’t bad either. It was big enough to support the sandwich, but it did begin to fall apart just a bit, due to the tomatoes.
All burgers include “bottomless” steak fries. This, my friends, kicks ass. They keep coming as long as you ask. Red Robin’s steak fries are really, really solid fries. They’re crispy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside. There’s a very light dusting of Red Robin’s seasoned salt on the fries, but you can add more at the table if you wish. I loved the fries so much that I ordered a second basket. They’re not fancy at all, but that’s not what I look for in a fry. I want a good, crispy fry that’s not dried out in the middle. If it’s floppy, it can fuck right the hell off. I hate nothing more than floppy fries. Kudos to Red Robin for acing the fry test. If Red Robin were an Ebay seller, and I bought something from them, I’d leave feedback that looked something like this:
A++++ SELLER! WOULD BUY FROM AGAIN! BEST ON EBAY! SRSLY 4 REALZ.
Or something like that. Gabe had the Whiskey River BBQ burger, and he enjoyed it. You can check out Red Robin’s website for a description for that one, along with all their other tasty-sounding burgers and various offerings. Based on this one trip to Red Robin, I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. I deducted the 1/2 star just because they drowned the sandwich with lettuce. Good stuff, can’t wait to go back.