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Redrock Canyon Grill at Pointe Orlando

It's been more than two years since Pointe Orlando announced the major restaurants that would be part of the reinvention of this struggling entertainment/shopping/dining complex. We've visited Capital Grille (before it was purchased by Darden), Tommy Bahama's Tropical Cafe, Oceanaire Seafood Room, Maggiano's Little Italy, Taverna Opa and B.B. King's.

The last of the originally announced restaurants is Redrock Canyon Grill. Like those others, Redrock is part of a chain, but, also like the others, a one-off for this area.

But there is something distinct about Redrock : It doesn't seem to have an easily grasped purpose or reason to be. With all the others, there is a central focus -- steak, seafood, Italian, Greek, etc. Redrock Canyon Grill claims as its specialty rotisserie chicken, but that's hardly reason enough to open a restaurant. And it's certainly not reason enough for you to drive to Pointe Orlando.

And I also don't quite get the Redrock Canyon bit. If it is meant to be a theme, it's pretty subtle.

Still, I have to say that a lot of the food I had at Redrock Canyon Grill was pretty good. I still don't think the rotisserie chicken is anything special, but I had plenty of other things that I considered quite tasty.

And it's not that there was anything wrong with the chicken, which is good, because besides being available as a stand-alone item, it is included in several other dishes.

I sampled the rotisserie chicken as part of a combination the menu annoyingly lists as cluck-n-oink ($22). The bird was paired with pork ribs. If you don't know which is which, ask a 4-year-old to give you a refresher course on "Old McDonald's Farm."

It may also be mentioned here that the chicken is sometimes paired with steak, thereby known as cluck-n-moo, and at times the chicken is left out of the equation, and the ribs and steak are offered together. You'll be expected to order the moink.

I ordered the chicken and ribs. "You mean the cluck-n-oink?" asked the server. No, I told her, the chicken and ribs.

The chicken part was better than the pig, which were rather dry St. Louis-style ribs. The cluck, I mean chicken, was at least moist and well-seasoned. (By the way, you can watch the whirling birds on the wood-fired rotisserie to one side of the open kitchen.)

Melodie's chicken pot pie ($11) elicited no sound, neither from Melodie nor the pie. It was a pretty good pot pie, however, with a flaky crust filled with chunks of chicken, carrots, peas and redskin potatoes in less gravy than one usually finds in a pot pie.

One of my guests had the hickory grilled tenderloin filet ($26.75), a tender steak cooked just a tad beyond the requested rare and topped with Gorgonzola cheese butter and cabernet reduction sauce. Mashed potatoes and sweet glazed carrots rounded out the plate.

Persimmon Hill meatloaf stack ($14) wasn't exactly a stack, and I can't begin to guess what Persimmon Hill had to do with it unless that's some sort of code for spiciness. Because that was the main distinction of this ground-beef-and-sausage loaf, a bit of peppery heat. Not too hot, though, and quite nice with the thick mashed potatoes and al dente green beans.

On a lunch visit, I had the Western bacon cheeseburger ($10), a very large patty on a fresh bun with lettuce and tomato, enough bacon to cover the top and lots of melted cheese. For the first time in recent memory, a burger ordered medium-rare came undercooked, so much so that I considered sending it back. I didn't, for fear it would be overcooked when returned.

Appetizers included a rather anemic pollo quesadilla ($9) and shrimp cargot ($10), which I thought would be served a la escargot, but I've never had snails topped with melted cheese. The fiesta egg rolls ($9), stuffed with chicken, of course, along with corn and bell peppers, were an unlikely favorite.

For dessert, the Key lime pie ($6) was a fairly decent rendition, with a tarty filling on a graham cracker crust. The pineapple upside-down cake ($6) had a little too much Jim Beam bourbon sauce for my taste, something I never thought I'd say.

The serving staff is young and exuberant. There's a lot of "so, where are you from?" kind of chatter, but overall they were attentive and quick.

The restaurant is large and is basically one continuous room with a bar in the center. Ceilings are low, and with bare floors and the open kitchen, the noise level can be high. There are touches of stonework in the décor, which I suppose is meant to evoke a setting in the mountains, or, more specifically, in a canyon .

Redrock Canyon Grill has several items worth ordering, but I can't think of anything it offers that makes it unique, like some of its neighbors.

But for locals who might need a place to meet up with visitors in the International Drive area it is a good choice, especially if you stick to the more reasonably priced entrées. Then it's worth the trip.

9101 International Drive, Orlando. When: 11 a.m.-10:05 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11:05 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Reservations: Accepted. Beverages: Full bar. Sound level: Noisy. Wheelchair access: Good. Entrees: $10-$26.75. Credit: AE, D, DC, MC, V. Call: 407-363-3933. Web site: rrcanyongrill.com

Saturday, 20th September 2014

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