This weekend was full of family birthdays for Collegetown. And in honor of those birthdays we always dine out at a local restaurant. This time the restaurant of choice was Red Robin in Columbia. Though the food was delicious and the service friendly, we couldn’t help feeling like we were in the middle of summer camp – which wasn’t exactly the nice relaxing birthday dinner we were hoping for.
The food was excellent. Bottomless fries and beverages means you can dine on as many of their delicious steak fries as you want, even after your meal is finished. Try getting that at some of those fancy-shmancy restaurants that offer you a few soggy fries to go with your burger. As the cuisine being classic American, they also feature some great traditional fare like root beer floats, milkshakes, and those chicken fingers you loved as a kid. And with countless different burger and sandwich options to choose from (with flavor combinations you couldn’t dream up if you tried, that will all make your mouth water) the menu offers something for every burger -lover. But don’t worry if you aren’t the hearty eater your friends are. They also offer lighter fare in wraps and salads, and even feature the pasta and chicken meals you would find at any dinner restaurant. (Our personal favorite is the Whiskey River BBQ wrap – yummy to say the least.) The wait staff is great too, with managers making sure everyone has a good time, and our food was delivered in record time.
Though the food and service was great, the fact that we were surrounded by 50 screaming kids, and at least 5 huge birthday parties, took away from our overall dining experience. The layout of the dining room makes the ambiance more “dinner at the county fair” than “intimate family dinner.” The overall atmosphere is great for parties, and for enjoying watching the big game, but everyone is close to everyone else, and conversations have to be held at a louder volume to be heard over the excited birthday patrons. While this fun and friendly atmosphere may be great for hanging out with your econ classmates after a big test, or for a celebratory 21st, it’s not so great for a romantic dinner or corporate meeting. We were hoping to have a nice dinner where we could spend time catching up with one another, and letting the parents know some of what was going on in our lives. But this was difficult in such an atmosphere, and we didn’t get to engage in much meaningful conversation outside of the person sitting right next to us.
Overall the Red Robin experience was good. With great food and good service, we can’t really complain. For a fun and upbeat dinner we would definitely recommend this happy family restaurant. But for an intimate night out or a dinner with the parents, we’d recommend somewhere a little more reserved.