Reality Check: The Wolverine-inspired Burgers at Red Robin
Whenever Robyn informs me of a new Red Robin burger to try, I cringe a little. When I saw that this round of special burgers was centered around the release of the new Wolverine movie, I winced even more, because that's just...strange. (I do, in fact, enjoy the X-Men movies, though!) The press release even states that the special bun has CLAW MARKS in it! Uhh, ok then.
So I wasn't expecting much from these two burgers, especially one dubbed "Kuzuri style" topped with some sort of "samurai slaw." But, to my amazement, these burgers weren't terrible, especially the "Berserker" burger. (Sidenote: Who came up with these names?)
The saving grace of these specialty burgers was that the toppings weren't too wild and crazy. It seems like when Red Robin tries to be wild and crazy, things go badly. So in the case of the Berserker, the relatively commonplace toppings of spicy pickles, sriracha onion straws, cheddar, and "zesty" aioli turned out pretty well.
The amount of toppings helped to disguise the general mediocrity of the standard Red Robin beef patty. Both were requested medium; one was delivered medium and the other was medium well. Pretty good for a chain.
Even though three of the four toppings had some sort of spicy component by name, there wasn't really any heat to anything (not surprising considering their lackluster ghost pepper burger). The onion straws didn't really have any hint of sriracha, but they were still good, crispy onion straws. The spicy pickles were very fresh tasting, and the zesty aioli was more like a tame Thousand Island—if you can imagine that getting tamer. It was all very inoffensive.
I was more worried about the Kuzuri burger since I'm not usually a fan of "Asian-inspired" things, especially slaw, which conjures up too many thoughts of raw ramen and cabbage slaw. But it turned out to be a very dumbed-down version of anything remotely Asian.
The sauce on the slaw—and there was a ton—was really just sweet and Asian in the loosest way possible. Think packets of plum or sweet and sour sauce you get from Chinese takeout, then remove some flavor. That was about it.
At least the cabbage and other components of the slaw were very crunchy and fresh. Wilted slaw would have made it inedible in my book. There was fresh cilantro in the slaw, but I could barely detect its flavor. The garlic ginger fried wonton chips were a mystery, having seemingly no real flavor or purpose. If you'd like your Red Robin burger dripping in sticky, sweet sauce with some cabbage, this one's for you.
As usual, the thing I'm most excited about going to Red Robin for is the steak fries, the bottomless root beer floats, and various other drink concoctions. New for this summer is the Blue Moon shake, made with Blue Moon beer, orange juice, vanilla ice cream and Cointreau. It was like an adult creamsicle with a mild bitterness to keep the sweetness in check.
Steak fries doused in the house seasoning on the table were standard fare. They never really change, though sometimes you get lucky with an extra-crispy batch. I wonder if you can request them to be fried longer? There's nothing worse than soggy steak fries.
I still have no idea what these burgers have to do with the new upcoming Wolverine move, but if you happen to like pickles and onion strings, and you're dragged to Red Robin, you might want to give the Berserker a try. Oh, and those claw marks? Don't get too excited; they're just slashes in the bun before baking.
About the author: Lacey Muszynski is an editor, freelance writer and restaurant reviewer from Milwaukee, WI. When she's not burgerblogging on AHT, she might be updating her food blog, making fun of the Food Network, or wondering what her art degree has to do with all of this. Her idols growing up included Martin Yan, Chairman Kaga, and whoever was on Great Chefs, Great Cities that day.