Each week the Dude Food guys assess the 'masculinity' of Dallas area dives. The more fried meat and junk on the walls, the better the rating...
Red Robin Gourmet Burgers
229 N. U.S. 67, Cedar Hill
Dude Factor: 5, or Boy Wonder, on a scale of 1 (Robin Ventura) to 10 (Robin Hood)
I'm on the fence about the whole idea of gourmet burgers. On the one hand, there are some undeniably awesome burgers out there created with top-quality ingredients and fixins that you won't find at McDonald's. Whoever thought to put guacamole and pico de gallo on a burger is a bona fide genius. But just as often, calling a burger "gourmet" is just an excuse to slap on a few sauteed mushrooms from some Bavarian forest and jack up the price.
As you can guess by the middling Dude Factor score, Red Robin--at least the Cedar Hill location of the national chain--falls somewhere in the middle.
I've got to give some respect to Red Robin for having the total disregard for health-food trends and customers' cholesterol levels that it took to create the Royal Red Robin burger. Three strips of bacon, American cheese, mayonnaise plus A FRIED EGG make this a perfect brunch burger for the type of dude who gets hungry rather than nauseated when checking out This Is Why You're Fat. It got bonus points for being having nearly all the ingredients of The Simpsons' Good Morning Burger, though in smaller quantities and minus the ham. That was fine with me, though. I wouldn't want bacon's delicate flavor profile to compete with another pork burger topping anyway.
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I had to try it, despite the $9.49 price tag. My dismay about the price subsided somewhat when the server explained that they came with bottomless steak fries.
And it returned once I actually tasted the burger. Predictably, it was a greasy hot mess. I not only knew but even hoped that my hands would be so slicked with meat essence by the time I was done that I wouldn't be able to work a doorknob. What surprised me was the utterly unremarkable flavor of the burger itself. It wasn't bad, but certainly not $10 good. If the perfectly disc-shaped patty wasn't preformed, it might as well have been.
Despite the name, I think the real focus of Red Robin's culinary creativity is its weird drinks, alcoholic and otherwise, like the Freckled Lemonade and Berry Raspberry Limeade. While I admire the moxie it takes to charge $4 for a glass of lemonade with strawberry chunks, I can't imagine such drinks appeal to dudes. In fact, despite the Royal Red Robin, the video games, birthday club promotions and balloons given to every child proves that this place is aimed squarely at moms and their kids, plus the occasional dad who needs a beer to get through it.
Tell you what, Red Robin: make it bottomless beers instead of steak fries and I'll be back. Otherwise, I'm bob-bob-bobbin' along somewhere else for my gourmet burgers.