I know, I know, I should probably confine my restaurant roaming and tavern travels to locally owned joints. That would be a perfect world.
But I have small children. And occasionally, this happy/challenging fact leads me through the doors of one of America’s successful/tiresome standbys. And, as anyone who lives here knows, you can’t swing a Bloomin’ Onion in this town without hitting a chain restaurant. Some are actually good.
Red Robin fascinated me because, until I moved here, I had never seen one. Turns out there are 350 of them, according to the company Web site, and the whole thing started in the 1940s at Sam’s Tavern on the University of Washington campus. Evidently Sam made a good burger. From there, a chain was born.
The best thing I can say about Red Robin is that it’s loud, very loud. It’s so loud that when my children raise the curtain on a full Broadway production of “Yelling, Singing, Crying and Pounding — The Musical” no one really notices. Crayons and balloons are also available. Bonus. Just have something comforting ready to say when the balloon floats skyward over Home Depot.
Beers are available cold and big, which is also a plus. As for the food, well, it’s a chain. The place admirably focuses on hamburgers. And I give it points for not trying to convince me, like some of its familiar contemporaries, that it’s serving me high-end grub invented at the Tuscan Institute of Tastiness. Right.
Let’s keep our relationship on the level — fully cooked, no surprises, nice tip.
The burgers are good, maybe not $8 good, but good. I like the tangy relish they slather on them, and am intrigued by the burger that comes with a fried egg on top. I have not ordered it, but the part of me that thinks a heartbeat is overrated is tempted.
All in all, not bad. So I’ll probably be back, as long as my kids remain loud.