Gather round children, and listen to the story of one man who foolishly tread where few mortals dare. It happened on a day much like today, in a town much like your town. The place…Red Robin. The burger…the Burger Parmigiana.
For those of you that don’t know me, years ago I fell in love with a burger at Bennigans. Called the Wheel House Burger, it was, in my case, a large gardenburger topped with a deep fried cheese wheel the size of the burger, which was then topped with marinara sauce and parmesan cheese. It was massive. It was the icon of American excess. It was delicious.
My mind had been made up. I would take another year off my life.
Then, one day it was gone. The burger that was without question clogging every artery in my system was no where to be found on the menu.
When the waitress came by, I asked her, “So, is the reason it’s not on the menu because so many people were dropping dead in the restaurant?”
Not realizing I was joking, she replied, “Yeah, probably.”
That was it. The burger was gone. My utopian world had been shattered. I searched for years for information about the burger to little success.
Until this past winter, when Katie and I went to our favorite chain restaurant, Red Robin. Their menu was touting a new Burger Parmigiana. They may have added some condiments (garlic mayo and peppers), but here it was, back in my life. Katie had concerns about me ordering it the first time, mostly that my heart (or something more south) would explode. With guarantees that I was only planning on eating half the burger she wiped her hands of the affair. The waitress came, and the burger was ordered (minus the disgusting sounding garlic mayo).
Served on ciabatta bread with roasted peppers and onions, the cheese wheel is served on the burger, topped with marinara sauce and more parmesan cheese. The cheese seemed less fried, the bread less filling, and ultimately doesn’t quite live up to the memories of the Wheel House burger. Bust, is it still tasty? Oh yeah. The burger is full of flavors and quite filling (especially since I eat far less than I used to).
I’m sure I still knocked a year off my life eating that thing, but I’m glad I did. I’d probably do it again, too. You can’t go wrong with fried cheese on a sandwich. It’s a winning combination.
Cut to yesterday. I met up with a friend that I haven’t seen in years at Red Robin. I was all set to order the Banzai Burger, my standby, but lo and behold, they’ve added Garlic Parmesan steak fries to the Burger Parmigiana. My mind had been made up. I would take another year off my life.
It was a little sloppier than the previous one. My cheese wheel had exploded, mixing with the marinara sauce, which seemed to drown my burger this time around. And the garlic mayo is completely unnecessary. The fries didn’t pack the punch I was hoping for either. I wanted GARLIC fries, and I ended up with slightly seasoned fries instead. They were good, but not great. In retrospect, I should have stuck with the banzai burger, or perhaps turned to the returning Peppercorn burger.
I love Red Robin. It’s basically the only major chain restaurant I really enjoy going to on a regular basis. They have such a wide variety of burgers that it’s hard not to find something to love. And they even cover the vegetarians, which is why they get such a winning review from me. You can get a gardenburger or Boca burger in the place of the meat on any of the burgers. Don’t like burgers, they have salads and pasta, and now they’ve added a three cheese macaroni and cheese. Plus, hey, bottomless steak fries. You can never go wrong with bottomless steak fries.
250 S Weber Rd
Bolingbrook, IL 60440