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M had never been to Red Robin before last weekend. A friend of his made the recommendation, and when M suggested it for date night, I was game. As a kid, I loved Red Robin hamburgers, and it had probably been 30 years since I last had one. I didn’t love the idea of eating at the Plaza Bonita mall, but the restaurant has its own entrance, so we didn’t have to go in the mall.

As soon as we walked in the door, M said, “This probably isn’t the best place for date night.” I had to agree. The bright lighting, and the number of kids in the place gave it a Chuck E. Cheese vibe, which no date night restaurant should ever have.

From the waiting area, I spied what looked like it might be a quiet, upstairs nook. I asked the hostesses if we could sit up there. When they said yes, we decided to stay. After a fifteen-minute wait, the hostess called our name. A young man led us up the stairs at a bizarre leisurely pace.

“He’s walking like he’s outside and it’s a nice day,” M said.

The kid-noise didn’t completely go away once we were upstairs, but it did fade a bit. By a bit, I mean a very little bit. M said, “Hmmm. It’s so loud in here that you actually feel like you have privacy.”

M ordered the French Onion soup and a Burnin’ Love Burger (jalapeno, salsa, Pepper-Jack, and meat spiced with cayenne). I had the Sauteed ‘Shroom Burger.

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M said two things about his soup:

1) “They said it comes with bread.” (Funny because he gestured toward the tiny wedge of flatbread that, to him, hardly weighed enough to count as “it comes with bread.”) 2) “This seems like it will kill me. It’s good, but I feel like I’m eating straight sodium.”

Of his burger, he said. “It’s hot.”

My burger was underwhelming, as many wonders of childhood often are when revisited as an adult. But even still, I’ll take a loud restaurant and a boring burger any day, as long as they come with the company of my lovely, caustic husband.

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Comments

Ian Pike March 24, 2012 @ 4:33 p.m.

Oh man, I used to have a really good friend from Bulgaria. We worked together at a bakery and did some farmers' markets for a while. Some of them were pretty far away and one day he said to me, "dude, I saw this commercial for a place called Red Robin. They put a freaking FRIED EGG on the burger! We have to go!"

So we went, and ate burgers with fried eggs on them. I remember being pretty happy with it, but mostly because it was an evening with my hilarious friend from BG.

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Elizabeth Salaam March 25, 2012 @ 2:18 p.m.

IP, A good companion makes all the difference, doesn't it? And, as for the fried egg burger, I saw it on the menu but couldn't do it. You're braver than I.

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Visduh March 24, 2012 @ 8:09 p.m.

This is just another one of many corporate eateries that seem to have some interesting but "underwhelming" dishes that sound so good on the menu. Sadly, others that fall into the category are Applebees, Chili's, Mimi's, Panera Bread, Elephant Bar, and . . . the list seems endless. All of them started out with a degree of uniqueness (is that a real word?) that faded over time until all converged onto a few features that make one impossible to distinguish from another.

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itsmechuck March 25, 2012 @ 4:39 p.m.

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Actually, many serve burgers with an egg. You always can ask "Break the yoke, cook it hard" if you're turned off by the runny yolk making a mess of your meal.

Visduh: I suggest you try Applebee's again. We hadn't been their in years and were pleasantly surprised with the variety and quality they have now. We have two we alternate with between SD to Palm Springs. We've yet to be disappointed and we are picky, farm-to-table types.

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guerrmichelle March 26, 2012 @ 2:07 a.m.

I read this article, and as a parent myself all I can say is that this entire piece was offensive and overall unnecessary. What was your point in writing this exactly? I go to Red Robin all the time with my family, mainly because it is a VERY FAMILY ORIENTED RESTAURANT. Who said anything about this being a date night place to begin with??? HELLO their mascot is a big red bird!! Anyway..... "As a kid, I loved Red Robin hamburgers, and it had probably been 30 years since I last had one" So basically what you're saying is that you were once one of those loud annoying kids that ruined someone else date night? You sound like a hypocrite who definitely doesn't have children. I love the food there. And yes "M" the burnin' love burger is hot. The food in your pictures looks good. If the portions are too big for you, cut it in half and take the rest home.
There is no real substance here to anything you are saying. It's just a bunch of whining and clearly you walked in there with a negative attitude which is completely reflected in your article. No one forced you to stay there, if you were that unhappy you have just left when "M" said, “This probably isn’t the best place for date night.” Maybe it's not Red Robin, it's you. Because they have yet to fail my family and we've been going for years now. Red Robin.. yummmmmmmm!

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