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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Red Robin – with its bottomless baskets of French Fries and Raspberry Limeades – is uber dangerous for a binge eater. My husband and I always would leave the restaurant feeling ill and wondering why we enjoyed going so much until we figured out how to scale back our Red Robin experience:

1. One basket of French Fries only (But we do treat ourselves to a side of Campfire Sauce).
2. No more Limeades. Water only.
3. We only venture to Red Robin twice each year – once in August to use my free birthday burger ( wp.me/p1N36Q-fU ) and then once again in September to use my husband’s.

This year, my wheatless experiment helped me find another way to indulge in Red Robin without the accompanying birthday bloat. I had always heard that they could do lettuce-wrapped burgers, but wondered who in their right mind would do that when the bread was so dang good? You could even get your burger on a pretzel bun if you wanted! So pfffft to lettuce.

Well, whether you can say I’m “In My Right Mind” or not, I made the decision to go with a lettuce wrap this year (although they do offer a Gluten Free bun for a $1.00 up-charge). I checked out their website ahead of time to see if there was anything else I needed to be wary of.

Red Robin has a cool interactive “Nutrition Customizer” on their website (you can also download an app for your phone). Using this tool, you can add or remove ingredients to create a meal that fits into your calorie range. Even with my lettuce swap, however, my usual choice – the Royal Red Robin burger – sets me back 850 calories and 71 grams of fat. Yikes.

Plus they have a specific Gluten Free menu that they update monthly:


While I have seen other chain restaurants post their allergen information, I don’t think anybody else has made the commitment to update their information monthly. Nice of them to put in the effort to keep consumers aware of changes in ingredients, suppliers, etc. The one thing I didn’t see was whether or not the “Campfire Sauce” I like to eat with my fries contained wheat, so I submitted a question to the contact box.

It took a fair amount of time to receive a response (two weeks), so I’m glad I asked early:

“Hi Nicole,
Thank you for your inquiry into some of our menu items. The campfire sauce does contain gluten (whey). Beginning Aug 26th we will have an interactive allergen menu on RedRobin.com where you can put in the allergens you wish to avoid and it will list out what options are recommended with those allergen concerns. I hope this is helpful.”

Huh. So… what exactly does the campfire sauce include? Dairy? Wheat? Both? Cool to hear that the allergen menu is coming and hope it’s as fun to use as the Nutrition Customizer (and not nearly as guilt inducing), but I knew I’d be going to RR before the tool went live on the site. So I wrote a quick note back to explain that whey was a dairy allergen, and then received an immediate response – learned that the woman responding to emails just answered a different inquiry about dairy and was still in that frame of mind.

I wonder how many of these allergen requests these restaurants get daily. Food allergies most certainly must be on the rise.

Don’t judge me too harshly. It’s once a year! I’ll pick something healthier for my husband’s bday next month.

Verdict – I have yet to see a restaurant do a good job with a lettuce wrap (see Smashburger post from a few months back: wp.me/p1N36Q-3g ). The egg on the burger was a little undercooked compared to previous visits, making it impossible to eat this as a sandwich. So I enjoyed a weird kind of burger/egg/bacon salad – still YUMMM.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thanks! I had no idea that mayo could pack that kind of punch! I'm happy without it. And good point on lettuce "wrapping" - maybe it is still best to keep it more like a burger salad than anything else.

    I've got a month to figure out what I'll eat next time!
    1648 days ago
  • GLC2009
    i tried the lettuce wrapped burger once. don't like that. greasy warm lettuce leaves wrapped around a patty. i'll stick with no bun, on the plate so i can cut it up. it's nice when they offer you the option of the lettuce wrap though.

    haven't been to a red robin for years. it was pretty darn good if i recall correctly.
    1648 days ago
    Hah! Except for the fries I'd consider most of that to be health food! I looked at their mighty cool customizer - very impressive! I love when someone had the creativity to combine hard information with a really fun interface.

    To cut the fat/calories you could probably knock off one of the two cheese slices, but it's the mayo that doing a serious number on both the calories and the fat. 220 calories and 20g of fat.
    1649 days ago
    No judgment here!! Plan your splurges and you are in control! Love your blog! emoticon emoticon
    1649 days ago
    I have steered clear of Red Robin since the last time I went with my son-in-law who goes crazy for the extra fries!! I am impressed though that they update their nutrition info monthly! emoticon
    1649 days ago
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