Recently I took my family (all of us this time, plus my father-in-law) to the Promenade and decided to try out Red Robin. It's definitely one of those restaurant chains that pose as a sports bar except instead of having tons drunken sports enthusiasts screaming at a television there are tons of kids screaming at their parents. But with an 8 year-old and an 8 month-old in tow, I felt that I fit right into the pack.
I was pleasantly surprised to see wide aisles for fast-treading parents with strollers, no matter how big or small. Even if you opted to haul your carseat in without the latest 4 wheeled monster, Red Robin has car seat slings and of course, highchairs. But perhaps the best of all of the attributes for The Dining Dad would be the changing table in the Men's room. Yes, this is definitely one of those must have's for the dad on the go wrangling two boys.
So what did we eat?
Appetizers: Guacomole, Chips and Salsa, Onion Ring Tower
Okay, let's face it, the only thing the Onion rings have going for them is the towering presentation. The rings come to the table stacked top to bottom and are presented with such flourish it could have been Excalibur. Unfortunately, all the presentation in the world doesn't make up for the taste of pre-frozen rings in very, very (did I mention very?) thick breading. I doled out rings to those members with teeth, and we went on a dipping spree. The sauces are good enough to cover up the metallic taste of the onion rings. The ring sauce seems to be ranch with a fancy name. In fact, I'm not so sure that our waitress didn't add that little tidbit. The slightly pink Campfire Sauce was fine, with a little sweetness (methinks honey), the slightest hint of liquid smoke and a opaque base that may have been the ranch. All in all, it was fine. The real standout was the guacamole side. The guacamole was chunky, with fresh raw onions, and they added celery to the side for dipping. The chips and salsa were nothing special, but my oldest liked the multi-colored chips. If I was to do it again, I'd get the guacamole and skip the rest.
As my littlest dozed blissfully in one of the aforementioned car seat slings, we dove into dinner. I sampled three different burgers: Turkey, Bison w/ bacon, and the Bacon Cheeseburger with mushrooms. All included bottomless fries. (Seriously, does anyone ever take them up on that? )
My eight-year-old had the Bottomless Kid's pasta…which was late. Very late. And needed to be re-sauced. If we hadn't eaten our weight in appetizers, he probably would have melted down. I thought it was very brave of them to send out an incomplete order missing the kid's food.
The turkey burger appeared to be the "healthy option" on the menu. It was seasoned well, perhaps a little dry. It came on a toasted wheat bun with lettuce, tomato and chipotle sauce on the side. The Wild West Bison burger was juicy and seasoned well with lettuce, tomato, onion and bacon and on a Kaiser onion roll. I generally enjoy bison meat because of the leanness. If you are trying to stay fit by avoiding beef, then bison is a delicious alterative for you. Finally, the bacon cheeseburger was one of the better tasting of the chain restaurant burgers I have had. If I did it over again, I wouldn't get the mushrooms. Even though the white bun was toasted, it became quite soggy.
Of the all of the mid-range chain restaurants, Red Robin's kid options are great. They offer 9 different entrees with at least 6 healthy sides. The boy got to mix and match, which he loved. They also have tons of kid-friendly drink options. As a dad who tries to avoid Mickey D's like the plague, I was very impressed to see such a wide variety of health-conscious decisions. My son picked the Bottomless Pasta with Apple slices. He loves pasta would have eaten more if it had showed up in time. The poor kid filled up on drinks and apps and unfortunately "bottomed out" before he could "bottom up".
Overall, Red Robin is a very appealing place for parents and kids. They have a wide selection of drinks and food and just enough paraphernalia on the walls for the big boy to drive mom crazy playing "I Spy".
I would recommend Red Robin as a solid chain restaurant, with a of must-have combo of good food and accommodations for families of all ages. Now if they could just get their service on the mark, I'd be sold.
I am still trying to convince them to give me the Bottomless Beer, but I guess a Dad can only be so lucky.
DINING DAD MOSTLY DIGS IT
3.5 out of 5 STARS.
Great kid options, but lacked some attention to detail