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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Red Robin.

Today before I had to go into work, Brent took me to lunch at Red Robin. I had never been to Red Robin before, and Brent had not been since he lived in Chicago several years ago. For those of you who don't know, Red Robin is a restaurant that specializes in gourmet burgers, and let me just start out by saying this - It. was. fabulous.

We both ordered pomegranate tea to drink, which I would have liked better had it been sweetened, but it still had a light and refreshing taste. After starting with the Towering Onion Rings appetizer, I once again found myself wishing I had brought my camera with me (luckily I was able to find pictures on the internet). The onion rings truly were towering, and quite delicious I might add! The breading on the onion rings was amazing, and they were nice and crispy. The appetizer came with two different sauces, one that was called a campfire sauce, and the other being ranch dressing. Of course, I asked for barbecue sauce to dip my onion rings in (as mentioned in my previous post, I am obsessed with barbecue sauce), although I did try the campfire sauce. I thought the campfire sauce was okay, but Brent thought it tasted great and he seemed quite impressed with it.

For my main course, I ordered the Whiskey River BBQ Burger, which is topped with Whiskey River BBQ sauce, cheddar cheese, onion straws, lettuce, tomatoes, and mayonnaise (I ordered mine minus the tomatoes and mayonnaise). Typically I order burgers medium, but according to the waitress the burgers at Red Robin are cooked either with "some pink" or "no pink." I decided to go with "some pink." When the burger was served, it was brought out in a basket with lightly seasoned, thickly cut steak fries. The burger looked absolutely mouthwatering, and when I took my first bite, I discovered it was cooked to perfection. The steak fries were wonderful as well, which I also dipped in barbecue sauce. (Naturally!)

After we had finished our meal (to go boxes were definitely in order), Brent and I were discussing the specialty drinks that were on the menu. I mentioned there were a couple that sounded right up my alley, so Brent decided we should try one. After reading the descriptions in the menu, we settled on a drink called Sand in Your Shorts. It is a mix of Chambord (one of my absolute favorite liquors), vodka, peach schapps, Midori, triple sec, orange juice, cranberry juice, and sweet 'n sour (however, our drink came out more orange than red, unlike the one pictured). Living up to the expectations that were now in place, the drink was fantastic. I would have opted for a second (and perhaps even a third) if I hadn't been scheduled to work later in the afternoon.

Going in, I wasn't sure what to expect of Red Robin, but I definitely left looking forward to my next visit. Red Robin had the winning combination of a comfortable atmosphere and delicious food, not to mention I was in great company with Brent as my lunch date. :-)

Overall Grade: A

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dinner and a Movie.

This past Friday, Brent and I had what I like to call a date night (I don't think he considers such evenings to be anything special, but I like to classify them as such because they are evenings where we deviate from the normal routine of sitting on the couch and watching television). For dinner, we decided to go to a restaurant neither of us had been to before but we both had been wanting to try, Famous Dave's Bar-B-Que. We started with the onion strings appetizer, which is served with a remoulade dipping sauce. I do not particularly care for condiments outside of barbecue sauce and ketchup, so I did not even attempt to try the accompanying sauce. (I just looked up remoulade sauce online and discovered it is mayonnaise based, so I am glad I decided not to try it. Mayonnaise = yucky face.)

As for the meal, I was a little overwhelmed by the menu having never been to Famous Dave's before, so rather than poring over every option and taking forever to make a decision (I am well known f
or my indecisiveness), I quickly decided to go with the rib tips on the basis that while I did not feel like putting forth the effort to eat ribs, the menu said the rib tips were "chopped into tender, bite-sized pieces." Now, not only do the meals there come with a cornbread muffin and corn-on-the-cob, but you get two sides as well. For my sides, I decided to go with garlic red-skin mashed potatoes and Dave's cheesy mac & cheese (which is blended with corn and jalapenos).

While we waited for our food, Brent took the opportunity to try each of Famous Dave's five barbecue sauces, which are Rich & Sassy, Georgia Mustard, Texas Pit, Sweet & Zesty, and Devil's Spit. I of course, despite loving barbecue sauce, am a major wimp w
hen it comes to trying new things, so I only tried the Rich & Sassy and Sweet & Zesty sauces (Georgia Mustard had the whole mustard thing against it, and based on Brent's reaction, Devil's Spit is much too hot for my taste). I decided to go with the Sweet & Zesty sauce, and greatly enjoyed dipping the onion strings in it.

When our food came out, I immediately wished I had brought my camera to the restaurant. I found the following picture online, but the basket of food I received literally had at least two to three times as many rib tips as the basket in the picture. There were enough rib tips to feed an entire family (and consequently we ended up taking the leftovers to my sister's family of seven).

Overall I would say the food was good (especially the cornbread muffin and the corn-on-the-cob), but I was somewhat disappointed with the rib tips, as they were not at all tender and bite-sized. They were also full of bone, fat, and gristle (call me picky, but this was a turn off to me). I ended up giving my mac & cheese to Brent, because the jalapenos were too much for me. I think if the mac & cheese had just been mixed with corn, I would have loved it. As for the garlic red-skin mashed potatoes, the garlic was a bit overpowering, but I found I liked them much better when I mixed in some Sweet & Zesty barbecue sauce. I think next time I will try the Georgia chopped pork or Dave's favorite burger as my entree, with mashed sweet potatoes and firecracker green beans as my sides.

Overall Grade: B

After dinner, we went to see the action/adventure movie Taken starring Liam Neeson. Neeson's character in the movie is a man named Bryan. Bryan is a retired government operative trying to develop a relationship with his teenage daughter Kim, whose life he missed a great deal of due to his former job. When Kim asks to travel to Paris with her friend Amanda, Bryan is reluctant to give his permission, but eventually agrees. No sooner are the girls in Paris than they are kidnapped by a sinister underground mob, but not before Kim is able to call her dad and provide him with clues he will need to find and save her.

Taken had a similar feel to the movie The Transporter, which is not surprising consdidering both movies were written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen. Seeing as how The Transporter is one of my favorite movies, it only seems natural that I found Taken to be enjoyable. I could have done without all of the prostitution scenes, although the scenes really weren't all that bad - I'm sure many other movie makers would have made them much more explicit. All in all, Taken was full of plenty of action, and I was engaged throughout the entire movie, not once finding myself yawning or becoming bored.

Overall Grade: B