A pair of brothers whom I teach tipped me off this morning that the new Red Robin over by Super Target was about to open and was holding one of those cool promotions where they give out free meals during the training period. I had gotten to do one of these a few months ago with Stout at the new Chili's on I-30, and it's a really awesome deal for all involved. The employees get to complete their training by serving actual customers (as opposed to, say, corporate "suits" pretending to be customers), and the guinea-pigs-for-a-day are rewarded with free food. It also leaves a good taste in your mouth (literally and otherwise) about the place, which should lead to repeat visits after opening time.
I had heard that there were both afternoon and evening shifts, so I was hoping to score a dinner slot and possibly bring Halfling and Angie along, but the later hours were already booked (d'oh). They did say, however, that they could seat me right then and there. I pondered that for about, oh, .0037 of a second before taking them up on the deal.
The theme of the place is "gourmet burgers and spirits," with the expected loud-and-fun atmosphere. The burger was really good (I had the "sauteed 'shroom burger" in case you're curious), and the serving team was friendly and attentive; my Dr Pepper glass was never empty. They also serve "bottomless fries," which is a dangerous concept. The portion that comes with the burger is somewhat small, which actually encourages this practice, so I took them up on it one time but didn't finish more than half of the (considerably larger) refill. I felt a twinge of guilt about leaving the extras, remembering the "poor children starving in (insert name of poverty-stricken country here)" from my childhood. Perhaps I could've mailed them the fries, but...dang, no envelopes.
After years of having to go to Plano for everything, the dining choices in Garland just keep getting better and better. Red Lobster and Olive Garden are on the way soon (near Outback Steakhouse); it's just been confirmed that Firewheel Town Center will get a T.G.I. Friday's, Rockfish, Bone Daddy's and Macaroni Grill (sorry, it's a Friday and I'm way too lazy to put up the links to all those places). Finally, my part of town is getting more "civilized," and the Red Robin is a great addition to the mix.
The restaurant review is done; time for the music review: The gig went great last night. The vast majority of it flew by the seat of its pants, but sometimes the most spontaneous jazz turns out to be the best jazz. We mostly played "danceable standards," but the presence of some truly heavyweight players always adds new dimensions to even the oldest and tiredest of tunes. The band was indeed smokin' (some members literally so *grin*), and there was a big crowd and an often-full dance floor, so hopefully it'll turn into a regular thing.
Halfling and Angie were there for the first two hours and had a great time, and I was surprised when my old fraternity brother Wyatt dropped in (I had told him about the gig, but he lives in Ft. Worth, so Addison's not exactly in his backyard). He's getting his entrerpeneurship degree in December, with the objective of opening up live music venues. After our conversation last night, he's definitely the frontrunner for being the music-oriented business guy to run the future Kev-and-Halfling jazz club when the time comes. (Another Fun Fact about Wyatt is that he's the person who turned me onto Chipotle back in early '01. I have always said that if Chipotle were a pyramid scheme, I'd be a really wealthy man thanks to all the people I've "referred" to the place. In that same scenario, Wyatt would be obscenely rich for having referred me and could thus open jazz clubs in every major city on Earth.)
The club was really nice...not as big as Caravan but indeed possessing a similar vibe. I didn't get to sample the food menu, but, umm...the water was good. I've said before that Dallas needs more live jazz venues, so I hope this one does well. With any luck, I'll be squeezed onto that tiny stage again really soon, because last night was a great time.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "WE CARD UNDER AGE 39 1/2"--badges worn by the Red Robin servers.