Dining out: Red Robin

Published: Friday, April 29 2005 12:00 a.m. MDT

The decor at Red Robin is hard to explain. I guess I'd call it the whimsical poster look. There's lots of red on walls and banquettes, and lots of posters of everything from Anne Geddes' babies to a past University of Utah gymnastics squad to Mr. Spock.

When we arrived for dinner on a recent weekend night, my kids liked the big American flag made of colored baseballs and, even better, the 5-foot Statue of Liberty with a big hamburger for a torch.

Given that, it's not surprising that the menu is focused mostly on burgers and food that goes with burgers, though there are salads and a few entrees on offer, as well. I'd definitely start with a glass of the raspberry lemonade, which is light, sweet and biting, with a handful of raspberries floating around in it and getting temporarily stuck in your straw.

For starters, we ordered the no-fire jalapeno poppers and, in case there actually was some fire, the mozzarella cheese sticks as a milder substitute. They were the standard cheese sticks of their kind, thick-breaded planks of stretchy melted cheese that are best dipped in the accompanying decent, if basic, marinara.

The poppers actually were no-fire but still had a nice earthy pepper flavor. I liked them dunked in the spicy-sweet jalapeno jelly that arrived in a tortilla cup alongside.

My husband chose from the burger part of the menu, and he went all out, ordering the Royal Red Robin, a thick, meaty patty seared to juicy doneness and topped with a jumbo fried egg, three strips of well-cooked bacon and cheese, as well as the usual lettuce, tomato and mayo. With it come basic but decent steak fries.

Boy, is this a good burger. I expected to find it too greasy, or too meaty, or something, but it's really, really tasty. Picture the best breakfast sandwich you've ever had, and throw on a nice lean beef patty, and you might get the idea. It's meaty, filling, savory in a half-dozen different ways.

I had the carnitas fajitas, another winner. I got a platter of moist and tender shredded pork with sauteed peppers and onions alongside, as well as four soft little tortillas and red and green tortilla cups of pico de gallo, sour cream and fresh-tasting guacamole. This was a delicious change of pace from regular chicken or steak fajitas. My kids looked up from their macaroni and cheese and spaghetti as my dinner arrived and soon had me surrounded, snitching bits of carnitas and dipping bits of tortillas into the meat's succulent juices. Maybe they could share a plate of their own carnitas fajitas next time.

For dessert, we split a slice of Red Robin's specialty Mountain High Mudd Pie, as well as some hot apple crisp. The pie is very, very tall, a hard-frozen wedge of vanilla and chocolate ice creams surrounded by peanut butter, chopped peanuts, fudge and peanut-butter cookie bits in a cookie crust. The pie was a little too hard for me, and I'm not wild about peanut butter desserts, but the ice cream was high quality and the whole thing quickly disappeared under the four-spoon onslaught of the rest of the family.

I had the apple crisp to myself. The sweet, cinnamon-infused sauce was a bit gooey, but its flavor was good, and the dish was full of thick slices of tart cooked apples. It arrived at our table steaming hot with a scoop of quickly-melting vanilla ice cream on top.

Appetizers $5.99-$7.99, burgers $6.99-$7.99, soups and sandwiches $2.59-$7.99, salads $7.99-$8.99, entrees $7.99-$10.99, kids' meals $3.49, desserts $3.99-$5.49


Rating: ** 1/2

Where: 316 E. Winchester Road, Murray (other locations in Layton, Provo and West Valley)

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Payment: Checks, credit cards

Phone: 266-9410 (Murray location)

Web: www.redrobin.com


Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: skratz@desnews.com

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