Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Noblesville, IN

Almost any place you go to these days, whether it is a restaurant or a store of some kind, has a customer satisfaction survey the management would like you to take. By a show of hands, how many of you actually take the survey? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Last October, my girlfriend and I were in Valparaiso, IN and visited Red Robin for dinner while her daughter attended a concert at the university campus. Our experiences there is what enticed me to finally complete one of the satisfaction surveys. But this post is not about the Valparaiso location so to keep it brief I will just say this: the food was great, the service was bad. Someday we will go back and I will let you know how it goes.

This post is about our visit to Red Robin in Noblesville, IN on December 30, 2010. The Noblesville location is the first Red Robin I ever visited and I have to say they set the bar high on that first visit. Never ending french fries? Hello! Perhaps that is why every visit since seems to be lacking?

I have never had anything to eat at Red Robin that did not taste good. Their burger selection is awesome, and the bottomless steak fries are well worth the extra calories. On our recent visit, their menu offered some new items, one of which was the Pub Burger. Ale-braised onions and mushrooms, creamy peppercorn-ranch, melted Cheddar and Swiss cheese, and fresh tomatoes. Served on a toasty onion bun. As the commercial says, "Yummm!"

Service seemed to start off a little slow, but to give credit the waitress did acknowledge our presence by at least letting us know she would be back with soda refills or more steak fries shortly. On my first visit to Red Robin, the steak fries were brought to us while we waited for our meal. That doesn't seem to be the norm anymore, I suppose appetizer sales probably suffered from that practice so I can overlook it.

Now to evaluate.

For food quality, I rate this restaurant as excellent
For service and employee interaction I rate this restaurant as above satisfactory, but just short of excellent. Maybe its the economy, but when a place is that busy, you got to hire more help.
For cleanliness, I rate this restaurant as satisfactory. Nothing really out of the ordinary, and even the manager was willing to grab a broom when he needed to. I didn't think to check the restroom, sorry.
Pricing - worth the money. Our total, for 2 adults and 2 female teenagers, before the tip came to about $50.

I guess I should come up with some form of grading scale here so on my drool-o-meter (what do you expect on short notice?) I'll give Red Robin - Noblesville 4 out of 5 drool streams. Please, let me start munching on those bottomless steak fries before my meal gets there!

My Introduction


If you have not yet read the about me section for this blog, you might want to skim it over. I do not wish to rehash who I am, but rather go into a little more detail about why I decided to do this blog.

You may remember me from such blogs as The Evil Twin Experience and um, well...I guess that's about it. My love for writing has combined with my love for eating and so, here I am.

I took the name mancakes for this blog from an episode of Man Vs Food, (Travel Channel), where the host, Adam Richman, travels around to all the pig-out spots and eating challenges he can find around the country. In one particular episode, he is visiting a restaurant that serves HUGE pancakes, although because of the size, they are called mancakes instead of pancakes. I loved the idea of that and dream of the day I can open my own restaurant and serve only extra large portions of everything.

My girlfriend and I love to travel, which is a good thing because we live in Indiana and my sons' mother lives in Missouri. So as we rack up the driving miles we also need to stop and eat along the way. We have had some interesting experiences at some of the places we have been and I began to think, "Why not share these experiences with the public?" Some good, some bad, and some were nothing special. I thought how nice it might have been if we had known about some of these places before we ever stopped. By reading this, maybe you'll find a new favorite place to eat, or maybe you'll find a place to steer clear of in the future. This blog should help you make a more informed decision.

Why is this important? I'll tell you. Last winter, my son and I ate dinner at a new oriental buffet restaurant that had opened here in Muncie. The selection was amazing, the food was wonderful, the price was about what you might expect to pay. However, when it comes to buffet style restaurants, I have a personal policy with regards to tipping. Since I have to physically get up and get my own food, there really isn't much else for the wait staff to do for me except keep my soda glass full and the table cleared of dirty dishes. That's it. If they can do a good job of that, then they get a tip. If not, then what have they done to earn it? Anyway, after our meal that night, service had not really been that great so as we were leaving, the waitress brought me the check and after signing it she noticed I had not entered a tip amount and questioned me about it.

"What, no tip?" she asked me.

I tried to be polite and said no, sorry, not this time. Then she said the words that forever cemented my relationship with that restaurant.

"If you (sic) not happy, you don't have to come back."

I thought, you're right. I don't. And I haven't been back since.

In addition to those little anecdotes, I will also be sharing some of our favorite creative recipes. We love to cook and experiment and just maybe you will enjoy some of these ideas as well.