EAST PEORIA – It’s another case where greater Peoria has taken a fresh food franchise into its heart.
We’re talking about Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, the latest eatery at East Peoria’s retail-ready Levee District where crowds have been constant since the place opened on Labor Day.
Red Robin has 477 outlets around the country but this is the first in the Peoria market. Judging from the number of people periodically observed waiting outside, there seems to be a pent-up demand for Red Robin fare in this area.
We recently got over there for lunch to see what all the fuss was about.
We went a little early on a weekday to avoid waiting for a table. Our booth in the corner proved to be a good place to survey all the activity.
And activity there is – as folks scurry about collecting plates and laying down food and drinks from what looked to be a packed house.
The specialty of that house is the burger, of course, but there’s more than that on the menu. I went with the fish and chips ($12.69) after we split an order of onion rings ($5) that proved notable. Served hot with two different sauces, ranch and chipotle-flavored, the rings come stacked on a little pole and tend to disappear rather quickly.
We also both ordered soup ($2.99 a cup). While I went with the clam chowder, my dining companion selected the chicken tortilla soup. Both proved worthwhile.
As for the main dish, the cod was tasty while the thick-cut fries were particularly good with Thai chili sauce, one of several sauces Red Robin makes available.
My lunch partner opted for the banzai burger, a teriyaki-flavored hamburger enhanced with grilled pineapple, cheddar cheese, tomatoes and mayo ($9.69). The burger’s flavor was good although he noted that it might have been closer to well-done than the medium he ordered.
If you’ve not visited a Red Robin before, along with a wide range of burgers, there are chicken sandwiches as well as a number of entrees such as a seafood platter (fried cod, shrimp and clam strips for $13.99) or pork riblets with macaroni and cheese ($13.99).
You can also get a turkey club or a BLT on a croissant (with avocado) along with several wraps and a host of salads.
In addition, there’s a children’s menu with the prerequisite grilled cheese ($4.19) and macaroni ($4.99) among the selections.
We ended on a sweet note, dividing a slice of strawberry cheese cake. There was nothing wrong with the pie, except maybe the price –
Good food and good service from a wait staff that gives you plenty of attention: I think I know why Red Robin appears to have made such a popular nest for itself in East Peoria.