Red Coat Tavern

27 07 2008
  • 31542 Woodward Ave.
  • Royal Oak, MI 48073
  • (248 ) 549-0300
  • No Known Website
  • No Menu Online
The entrance to Red Coat Tavern in Royal Oak near Detroit.

The entrance to Red Coat Tavern in Royal Oak near Detroit.

I know.  I said I didn’t want to go into the suburbs for dinner and honestly, that wasn’t the plan.  We were going to take Corky and Amy’s advice and eat at Union Street Saloon.  We found the place across from the Detroit Medical Center and parked the car.  After dodging the homeless guy sleeping on the sidewalk, we got to the front door and found out they don’t open until 4:00.  It was only 3:00, so we didn’t want to stick around that neighborhood for very long and the only other place I could remember a name for was the Red Coat Tavern, so we put it in the GPS and headed back out of town.

After getting stuck in traffic on I-75, we got back to Woodward Ave. After a 10 minute or so drive downt the busy commercial street, we came up to the Red Coat.  Actually, I missed it the first time.  There is so much commercial along that stretch of Woodward the signs all block each other so by the time you get to the one you want, you’re right on top of it before you realize it.  I turned into the next parking lot which was connected to the Red Coat and backtracked to find a spot just under the huge awning leading to the front door.

The front of  Red Coat Tavern as seen from Woodward Ave. in Royal Oak, MI

The front of Red Coat Tavern as seen from Woodward Ave. in Royal Oak, MI

First impression.  DARK!  Very, very dark.  It took my eyes a long time to adjust.  Fortunately, the hostess answered a phone before seating us so it gave my eyes time to adjust to the darkness so I didn’t trip over anyone getting to our table.  It was a really good thing because the tables are crammed into the space.  In the non-smoking section, there are booths along either wall with tables in the middle.  We were shown to a booth near the back of the space.  I actually had to suck in my gut and walk sideways to get past some patrons at the first table.  The booths were very cramped too.  My girlfriend and I were sitting across from each other and when the waitress set out plates down, they were touching each other.  My girlfriend actually moved my Pepsi out of the way because she was afraid she was going knock it over if I left it where it usually sits.

The menu was much smaller than I expected and not having a website, we had no way of checking it before we got there.  I had read many reviews about their burgers so for me it was pretty easy.  My girlfriend, however, had a hard time finding something.  There were no chicken sandwiches and she didn’t really want a salad.  She finally settled on a sandwich called the “Mt. Vernon”  It was a ham and cheese sandwich served on an onion roll with their “special sauce.”  The sandwich came with a lot of ham.  She’s not a huge meat eater and this roll had a lot of meat.  She pulled a little bit off so I could get a taste.  The special sauce almost ruined the sandwich.  I’m taking a guess here that it was some kind of french onion sauce.  Between the onion roll and the sauce, the taste of onion was overpowering.  She was still tasting it after two pops, nachos and a daquiri at Comerica Park.  Other than that, she liked her sandwich.  Neither of us had eaten all day and she was complaining about being hungry.  The “Mt. Vernon” took care of that.

I ordered one of their famous burgers.  They serve the burgers with lettuce, tomato, and that same special sauce.  I opted to leave all of that off and add cheddar cheese and bacon.  I fail to see how the Red Coat’s burgers are any better than the competition.  It was fine, but it was a 1/2 lb patty served on a store bought seasame seed bun.  I could have made this at home with a frozen beef patty from Merindorf Meats.  There was quite a bit of bacon and a huge slice of melted cheese.  It did fill me up, but it just wasn’t anything special.

To make things worse, neither sandwich comes with a fries or chips.  We ordered a plate of fries for the table.  Thin cut, out of the bag, run of the mill, generic restaurant fries. 

Our meal was fine.  We both left full and the food was good.  I had read so many reviews that made the Red Coat Tavern sound like one of the best places to eat in the Detroit Metro Area and I really hope that’s not the case.  After striking out at our first choice, we chose to drive out to Red Coat instead of going to Greektown.  I’d much rather “eat where the locals go” instead of hitting a touristy spot for dinner, but this one didn’t do much for me.  It’s definately a place where the locals go.  At 3:30 the place was pretty full and they were taking call ahead seating for the evening rush.  For me, this was a place with high expecatations that the food didn’t quite live up to.  Too much out of the can, generic food to really make an impression on me.  I feel bad that we drove into town then had to drive back out to Royal Oak and not have a “knock your socks off” meal.  Our meal was just over $25 before tip which I’m not going to complain about in the city and it didn’t take much more than a half hour.  They were really quick at getting our food out.  Red Coat is not a bad place, but the dark, cramped atmosphere did nothing for me and the unoriginal ingredients were disappointing.  I won’t go out of my way to go back, but I wouldn’t tell anyone else not to.




5 responses

26 08 2008
Redamak’s Tavern « Mid-Michigan Dining

[…] Michigan, there was Blimpy Burger in Ann Arbor (review HERE), Red Coat Tavern in Royal Oak (review HERE) another place I don’t remember and Redamak’s Tavern in New Buffalo.  For quite some […]

1 01 2009

Dear Lord how you miss the point. They have amazing burgers there and you order something as plebian as cheddar and bacon and leave the rest off. Your girlfriend doesn’t like meat so she orders a meat sandwich.

You obviously don’t like the seating, and everyone says it’s dark. If you don’t like that kind of ambience, so be it. Personally I think it lends a bit of privacy to the booths, and on the bright side, the red lights actually help to preserve your night vision, while allowing you to still see.

Other than an iffy scotch egg, I’ve never had something there that wasn’t done well, with excellent service, and a generous bartender.

“unoriginal ingredients”… psh.

I should trust someone’s opinion who is so opposed to new things that they won’t sit by a homeless guy for an hour in the middle of the afternoon?

For shame!

1 01 2009
Mid-Michigan Dining

I disagree with everything you said. I ate at Redcoat because everyone says they have the best BURGER. The burger sucked. When I say burger, I mean the meat. A burger is ground meat. It’s not a special sauce. If you want to say they have the best special sauce in Detroit, you can make that argument, but if they have to cover up the flavor of their burger because it’s so plain and unoriginal, there’s no way it can be considered a good burger. That’s all I was saying.

As for my girlfriend, who doesn’t really like meat, it says something about the place when they don’t have a vegetarian option other than a salad. There wasn’t even any chicken on the menu. Had we been able to find a menu on-line ahead of time, we probably wouldn’t have eaten there. I really thought we were going to get up and walk out after looking at the menu, but my girlfriend stuck it out for me because of the rave I had been hearing about the burgers. Once I bit into a totally average piece of meat and a supermarket bun, I really felt bad that I had dragged her there.

As for the atmosphere, at night, it might not be so bad, but we stopped in in mid afternoon. Walking blind through a restaurant with barely enough walking room for a Milan runway model was not fun. Nor was having the table pressing in on my stomach because the booths were so tight and I’m not a huge, overweight guy who can’t fit in an airline seat comfortably.

If you want a wonderful review of how great Redcoat Tavern in, I can find you one, but I was really disappointed. I don’t want an onion sauce on my burger to make it “great” I want a well seasoned, juicy, FRESH piece of meat on a homemade bun that has been toasted and topped with a good piece of cheddar. THAT makes a great burger….not a “special sauce”

10 04 2010
Bernie B

I’ve eaten at Red Coat in the past a couple of times with my sister, never understood how they got the rep for Best Burger either. Think it must be a hold over from a few decades ago when competition was thin.

17 11 2011

you used the word ‘definately’ which nullifies your entire post.

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