Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Red Robin Burger Works Food Review II

Whiskey River BBQ Burger and Onion Rings

What a difference, three miles makes. That's the driving distance between Red Robin Burger Works' first DC location at L'Enfant Plaza, and its newest (and way superior) digs near the corner of 19th & M Streets, NW. My first visit to the former (less than two weeks ago) was less than spectacular; but let's chalk it up to quality of meat and location, location, location. Whatever the difference, this Red Robin Burger Works appears to know what they're doing.

We were sad to see Boloco close at the end of last year; but restaurant spaces in this part of town don't stay empty for very long. First, the obvious: Burger Works looks beautiful. Not sneaky gorgeous like BurgerFi in Silver Spring, but shiny, new beautiful. It sports a baseball motif (relatively random, but I dig the four hanging lamp fixtures in the middle of the dining area.) There's also three flat screen TVs side-by-side-by-side on one wall, and plenty of natural space throughout.

Salted Caramel Milkshake

I placed an order with friendly Charise for a Whiskey River BBQ Burger ($6.49) with Onion Rings ($2.49) and a Salted Caramel milkshake ($3.99.) I was given a table number to take to my seat, so they could find me and deliver my order. Also, Charise remembered to give me a Punch (loyalty) Card. Nice attention to detail. Service is quick (about five minutes) and Charise delivered my order with a smile (and a spoon for my shake... details, details.) As far as appearance goes, Burger Works gets an A- for presentation. I was especially impressed with four neatly stacked, uniform onion rings; and the burger (bourbon BBQ sauce, cheddar, crispy onion straws, crisp lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise... minus the cheese and mayo) looked good too.

Onion rings were crispy on the outside, and packed with thick onion inside. I'd love one more for value (they work out to just under $.70 per) but truth be told, four was quite filling. The burger was a smashing success... much better than their Tavern Double Burger, especially in regards to quality of meat. Same sesame bun as before, but the addition of BBQ sauce and crispy onion straws made all the difference. Only one thin tomato, and way too much lettuce (iceberg, not romaine... I prefer the latter) but the flavor profile was spot on. Bottom line: I'd definitely order this burger again.

Shakes are normally a luxury; but for dinner, why not? Burger Works' shakes are generously sized (24 oz.) and thick... perhaps too thick, hence the spoon. After 10 minutes, it was perfect. Salted caramel provides a welcome (and tasty) break from the standard chocolate, strawberry and vanilla you find at most places. Best of all, they cost a dollar less than most anywhere else.

Considering it was opening day night, I was hoping for a bit more fanfare; but the trend appears to be, act/look like you've been open for a while. Sadly, no balloons or giveaways (maybe next year, at its first anniversary.) Service was very good (especially Charise) and the manager asked me how everything was, on my way to check out the restrooms. Speaking of, they're individual (with a lock) and spotless. Toss in hip music (Matt Costa's "Lilacs") and plenty of outdoor seating, and you have the potential for a real crowd-pleaser/cash cow. With so many burger joints closing up shop around town, it's great to see someone opening for a change.

P.S. They serve breakfast too (cheer!) Click here to see the menu, and check back in a few days for our breakfast review.