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Red Robin

In a word: Reliably, but not outstandingly, burgerlicious.

The specs: #0546  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Yelp, Madison Hot Bite, Madison Fish Fry, collected on del.icio.us; listing at Eat Drink Madisonofficial web site,Red Robin America's Gourmet Burgers and Spirits on Urbanspoon

Latest Red Robin news and reviews

JM ate the whiskey river burger with a lemonade.
John ate the California chicken burger with a diet Coke.
Nichole ate the Apple Harvest Chicken Salad with a margarita.
Rose ate the spinach-artichoke dip with a diet Coke.
The bill was $60, or $15/person, plus tip.
JM gave Red Robin an A-; John gave Red Robin a B+; Rose and Nichole gave Red Robin a B (see our grading rubric).

According to Taste of Madison's tweets, Red Robin is a big hit with teenagers. Based on our experience, it is also a hit with out-of-town visitors and work lunches (pity the restaurant that's popular with exterminators). The fact that none of these inspires a lot of refills on their "bottomless" french fries seems to be Red Robin's business model.

Towering onion ringsAs it was, we couldn't resist the Tower of Babel-like stack of onion rings. It came with ranch and southwestern dip, a distant cousin of our new acquaintance salsa golf, that made every bite somehow taste like hot dogs until we figured out that it was mostly ketchup. The rings were generously cut from real, sturdy onions.

The Apple Harvest Chicken Salad with mixed bag lettuce, candied pecans, mild bleu cheese, artificially preserved apple slices, and chilled grilled chicken was billed as "better than the farmer's market." It wasn't, and they should know better than to say so. The poppyseed dressing tasted a lot like Henri's.

Apple harvest chicken salad

The spinach-artichoke dip was too much for one person's entree, despite being an appetizer. It came with chips and toasted pita, and was rich and cheesy.

Spinach artichoke dip

The Whiskey River BBQ burger through Kate's burger rating guide:

  • Bun: plain sesame.
  • Meat: Tender, though not any sort of revelation.
  • Bun/meat ratio: Burgers this messy need this much bun.
  • Cheese: Melty cheddar.
  • Misc.: the burger held together very well, and the saucing was quite nice. 

If we apply the same rubric to the California chicken burger, we have:

  • Bun: same plain sesame.
  • Meat: very tasty, not over-tenderized; still felt like real chicken.
  • Bun/meat ratio: fine.
  • Cheese: excellent pepper jack.
  • Misc.: the bacon was unnecessary, as the sandwich was already flavorful.

Chicken burgerWhiskey River BBQ burger

The fries were thick cut and not greasy at all. Though it was perfectly within our rights to demand more, we too ended up not asking for refills, for which our arteries are thankful.

We should mention that this was our Mother's Day outing. It seemed like an unconventional choice, but we were surprised to see that most tables were celebrating the day, and Red Robin marked the occasion with red carnations for the moms. 

Comments

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Bacon is never unnecessary. :)

"the bacon was unnecessary,..." Um, I don't understand this comment.

Bacon is always necessary!

We went to one in the Chicago suburbs earlier today, and it was about the blandest food I have ever tasted (seriously - how could a sandwich with grilled chicken, cheese, tomatoes marinated in balsamic vinager, pesto aioli, and a ciabatti roll possibly be bland? Yet...there it was). The Madison franchises must be a lot better, it sounds like...

We went to the east side one in October, they sat us quickly, as there were only about five 4 people groups there, not including us. A waiter/ess never even came over to get our drink order and we sat there for over a half hour.

And since we really wanted Red Robin we headed over to the Monona one. Not even sitting 5 seconds at our table our waitress came over. (We were counting!) Got our meal compt that night.

So worth all of that for their garlic fries <3

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