With all of the merriment—let’s be honest, drinking—that accompanies the holiday season, odds are you might wake up one morning with everyone’s least favorite next-day companion: a hangover. We’ve all been there, and sometimes a greasy meal is the best medicine.
Looking to capitalize on all that overindulgence during the holidays, Red Robin is debuting their Cure Burger this week (January 1-7, 2015) as a “hidden” menu item. What is a Cure Burger you ask? Well, it’s the cure to what ails you—get it? clever branding there—a burger topped with chili, sautéed mushrooms, bacon, cheddar cheese, and a fried egg all served with a side of Red Robin’s signature steak fries.
Although the Cure Burger is available at Red Robin beginning on New Year’s Day, I had the chance to try it a few days early. Well, technically I “re-composed” a Chili Cheeseburger and added bacon, mushrooms, and an egg to make the "Cure Burger" thanks to the very polite staff at my local Red Robin. (I was surprised to find that they weren’t aware of the promotion. Despite their confused looks from my order, they pulled through and I was a proud owner of a preview of the Cure Burger.)
Also, it's worth noting that I did get the burger from the takeout window and planned to reheat it the next day. Why wait to eat it you may ask? I wanted to maintain full journalistic credibility, which meant eating the burger after a night of overindulgence. All in a day's work as a food writer, right?
So how did the burger taste a day later, reheated in the oven? Well, you could certainly make more inspired (and slightly less depressing) life choices. The burger patty was well seasoned and cooked perfectly, which is to be expected from a chain specializing in burgers. The bun, slathered in margarine before grilling, had a beautiful garlic-bread sheen.
From there, the experience went downhill. To be frank, there was just too much chili, which completely overwhelmed the rest of the toppings. And that wouldn’t be a bad thing if the chili had any real punch or flavor. If anything, the chili tasted very similar to canned Hormel chili, and that’s definitely not the pervasive flavor you want in a meal costing $14. The steak fries were fine. Yes, just fine. Nothing to write home about, but well cooked and slightly underseasoned.
Also a word to the health-conscious: Red Robin is not a place to go if you just started your New Year’s diet. Using the chain's online nutrition calculator, total calories for the meal came in at a whopping 1,496. Sodium levels were an off-the-charts 2,526 milligrams (in case you're wondering, a “normal” daily amount is 1,500 milligrams).
All in all, the Cure Burger made me think of what lunch might be like at Guy Fieri’s house (or new restaurant, I guess). Maybe the experience itself is better when you're sitting at a booth with your friends, going over the past night’s stories and sharing in collective misery. As a solo endeavor, the Cure Burger might actually make you feel worse about yourself. But hey, even if it's not my ultimate hangover cure, it might be yours—either way, happy drinking and post-night-out eating.
Top image from Red Robin; second burger image from Dan McKay
Dan McKay is a Canadian actor, film director, screenwriter, and musician—oh wait, that's Ryan Gosling. Dan is a Philly-based freelance writer, photographer, and digital marketer. He has written for Eater and Thrillist, in addition to other publications. Outside of work, you might run across him in the Asian market or in one of Philly’s local drinking establishments.