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Oh, SmAlbany!

Daily posts and occasional longer essays about politics, culture, and life in the Capital Region...updated M-F, midmorning


"I write this not as a booster of Albany, which I am, nor an apologist for the city, which I sometimes am, but rather as a person whose imagination has become fused with a single place, and in that place finds all the elements that a man ever needs..." -W. Kennedy, from O Albany!

Red Robin...

Better than most chains: So I broke down yesterday and went to Red Robin ($$, 1, 87, Route 9, Latham) for lunch with my mom and sister. I'm definitely not a fan of chain restuarants, but anyplace that consistently has a line out the door - which i have observed on numerous occasions at the Latham Red Robin - is probably worth a try. Walking in, the atmosphere is uber-chain. Think TGI Friday's meets Johny Rocket's meet Planet Hollywood. There are movie posters on the walls, ballons hanging everywhere, bright colors, oversized menus, Green Day on the stereo, an overpriced bar with lots of neon, those litte buzzing coasters to notify you that you're table is ready, and the ever-present sound of Red Robin employees singing some song that's not "Happy Birthday" to some kid for his birthday. Basically, the whole chain-food works. In fact, Red Robin is the most stereotypical mid-level chain restaurant I've ever seen. Ever. Not my scene.

Luckily, the food was actually quite good. The menu is pretty limited - there are burgers, soups and salads, and a few other light fare items. They really push the "gourmet burger" angle - they have about 15 different burgers, many of which looked quite good. I had a guacomole bacon cheeseburger, medium rare. It was very tasty and certainly a large portion for just $6.99. I was amused that it was served in one of those plastic baskets like they used to have at Ground Round back when I was in the "pay what you weigh" crowd. My sister had something called the "5 alarm burger," which she said was excellent. The "gimmick" at Red Robin is that all the burgers come with "bottomless" french fries. But the fries weren't particularly impressive and the original portion of them is quite large. I can't really imagine too many people take them up on a refill.

Overall, i enjoyed my lunch, but i probably won't go back very often. I just can't endorse the atmosphere. On the other hand, it's a relatively cheap meal and would certainly be a good fit for a family with adults that want to get some decent food and kids that want to go to a chain-ish type of place. But i'd still rather take them to Beff's. Most recently ate here: August, 2005.

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At 7:03 AM , Anonymous Colleen said:

Come on, Matt. Don't give chain restaurants such a rap. I seem to remember you inhaling a vast number of enchiladas at "On the Border" outside of New Haven...    



At 9:47 AM , Blogger Matt said:

Fair enough - i am a sucker for Tex-Mex, and "On the border" does deliver the goods. I had a very tasty meal at Red Robin, undeinable. But i'm generally not a big fan of the chain atmosphere, and Red Robin takes it to the extreme.    



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