That Food Guy
Friday, February 14, 2014
  Red Robin, St Petersburg, Florida

Red Robin, St Petersburg, Florida

Tyrone Mall 2468 Tyrone Blvd Suite 435B

St Petersburg, FL  33710  (727) 345-3581



Our last meal at a Red Robin was during our last trip together to Alaska some three or four years ago. During our Alaska residence it was a favorite place to go for that special hamburger and a milkshake (not to mention the “bottomless fries”). During our tenure in Florida, at first there were no Red Robins. Not too long ago we learned that there was a Red Robin a bit to the north of Orlando. As good as the Red Robin sandwiches are, a six to eight hour driving round trip was just a bit too much. About the middle of last year we read in the paper that Red Robin was going to build a restaurant in the Tyrone Mall, just a few blocks from where we live. That was good news indeed. That Red Robin was completed a bit before the Christmas season but we never managed to make our way there for a meal until today. That’s not to say that the spouse didn’t visit and get me a gift card from Red Robin to help fill my Christmas stocking. With gift card in hand, we went to Red Robin for a Valentine’s Day Red Robin Hamburger.

This particular Red Robin is almost hidden. The large parking lot of the mall makes for a large set back and there is no attention getting sign; you sort of have to know where it is because it is not readily apparent from the street. That didn’t seem to affect the customer base. Even though we went a bit early for dinner it was quite busy. However, we had almost immediate seating. We were shown to a lounge area table for two. That area has elevated tables with stools and bench seats to match. I suppose they were saving the regular dining area booths for larger parties. The seats are okay once you climb up and in but I would prefer a regular booth the next time if at all possible.

Our server, Sarah J was quickly there to take our beverage order. A very personable young lady, Sarah took good care of us during our visit and her kind words added immeasurably to the dining experience. Red Robin features Coca Cola products (soft drinks $2.79) which I prefer and my wife, Janis, ordered her favorite, a banana milkshake (Classic Milkshakes and Malts. Choose from chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, banana, raspberry or peach. Classic $3.99, Monster, milkshake with a refill tin $4.99).  The beverages arrive in short order and we sipped as we read the menu. It is similar to previous Red Robin menus we have seen but there are a lot of new additions as well as old favorites. There is a section for substitutions and sides as well as a variety of sauces to “Customize Your Order.”

In spite of the new and tantalizing dishes offered, we ordered much as we have always when dining Red Robin. We are, after all, creatures of habit. Janis ordered her usual, the Crispy Chicken Burger ($9.99 Anything between two buns is a burger to us, even if it’s made with a premium whole chicken breast. The only things that could top this burger are pickles, tomatoes, onion and mayo.) She chose the bottomless fries as her side dish. It is a large serving of chicken, the flattened breast overhanging the large bun on all sides. It was cooked a nice golden brown and with a crispy crust, moist and tender inside. Janis said it was very tasty and she had no difficulty in finishing her meal; well, a small scrap of sandwich to take home for a couple of real dogs (who gave the crispy chicken burger their seal of approval). The fries were, as expected, very good. Red Robin is noted for their steak fries always served cooked to a tee and served piping hot.

Bacon cheeseburger on a serving plate
I have a couple of burgers that I switch between but this time I chose the Bacon Cheese Burger ($9.99 Bacon. It makes everything better; even our cheeseburger which is tough to beat. Topped with mayo, tomatoes and your choice of cheese.) The meat is cooked to order. I chose Swiss cheese for my burger, and of course, I chose the fries. Read the menu thoroughly. There are no-charge substitutions for the fries, such as side salad, broccoli and coleslaw, which are bottomless like the fries. The burger was made from a large, nicely toasted sesame seed bun. The patty was grilled with a bit of crispy char, cooked to order, not pink, but not well done, and was very flavorful beef. The Swiss cheese  was nicely melted and there were fresh tomatoes and crispy lettuce. The bacon was two full strips cooked almost crispy. As I mentioned, the meat had a very good flavor by itself and the rest of the ingredients made for a delicious hamburger, one that I really enjoyed. I also love my French fries. I especially like the steak fries served by Red Robin. I asked Sarah one of her frequent appearances for an additional order of fries. It seemed that it was taking a long time but she arrived right on time with the fresh, piping hot order of fries just as I was down to the two or three from the original serving. I thoroughly enjoyed my reintroduction to Red Robin. Sorry Dogs, there wasn’t anything left to bring home.

Bacon Swiss cheeseburger in a basket (New Mexico)
There was nothing wrong with our sandwiches and we will be going back to Red Robin, that is for sure. I do have some observations about perceptions and presentation that really didn’t affect the quality of the food. In all previous visits to Red Robins, the service was in a more traditional burger basket with a sheet of wax paper liner. The burger was also wrapped with the top half exposed ala the roadside diner hamburger tradition. The back side of the burger was compressed a bit and that forced some of the filling towards the unwrapped top. The bun gaped a bit and the effect  was a humongous hamburger. As well, the basket was a bit smaller than the serving plate in use at this Red Robin and that made the combination of burger and fries look very large indeed.

This meal was served on a flat, rectangular plate with the burger sitting flat, unwrapped and secured with a wooden skewer.  The fries are in a serving ring, much like a fries to go carton but without a bottom and made of stainless steel. With the contents of my meal displayed on the larger plate the effect was of a much smaller meal than I remembered; the perceptions from the presentation. I had to look closely to be sure it was the same sized burger that I remembered.  The burger was delicious, the fries excellent but even though I am sure the burger is the same size, I am also sure that the supplier is cutting the fries from a slightly smaller potato that before; they are good fries just a bit smaller. I don’t believe that is of any real importance because you can have as many as you can eat.

If you haven’t been to a Red Robin in some time or the restaurant chain is new to you, try them. I’m sure you will be glad you did and it will become one of your favorite places to go for that special burger.

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