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Outback Steakhouse

I went there for the 1st time this week in Mississauga... will not go back...I shoulda known better, but it was not my choice.

Great (but bad) onion bloom.
Awful house salad
Bland tasteless chewy Sirloin (supposed to be their special) (No char marks either where's the grill?)
OK garlic mashed potatoes
No microbrews
No Cabernet by the glass (is it a steakhouse or what!)

Keg and Earl's do it much better for chains

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  1. I haven't been very impressed with the ones in Canada, either. My first Outback was in the US near Ocean City (ugh), and as a visitor to the states, I was amazed when they asked how I wanted my burger. I took it medium rare and it was superb. Sadly, the well burgers at Outbacks up here in Canada are mediocre at best.

    1. I've been to Outback several times and have much the same opinion - it is edible, but not something I would choose.

      1. When I lived in ID, Outback was one of the "nicest" restaurants in town. I ate there frequently. Their caesar salad is very good. Probably one of my favorites, but I'm in love with garlic. It comes out of your pores for a week after the caesar at Outback! Their filet is okay. Never order soup. It's horrible.

        1. It's amazing how many people rave about that Blooming Onion. To me it's just salt and grease, and not in the good way like McD's fries.

          1. We seem to get Outback gift certificates a lot. I think people around here consider it a special occasion restaurant.

            Actually, given my extremely low expectations, I was pleasantly surprised. I liked the bread. The filet was cooked as I ordered and inoffensive in flavor and texture. They had Francis Coppola Diamond Series Claret by the glass...a very solid wine. I've had WAY worse.

            1. There is no grill they cook on a griddle.

              1. There's one a mile from us in our area of suburban Pgh. Outback is perhaps the only chain we regularly visit. We get the takeout about once every other month. Wife loves the "Prime Minister" small prime rib and I can choose from three of the burgers - all pretty danged good - best within a 10 minute drive for sure. We avoid the chicken & fish. Salads are OK, but nothing special. It's all about the meat.

                I've also been to the Outback by the airport here and it's as good quality-wise. Never had a bad cut of meat. Not Ruth's Chris or Morton's by any means, but pretty solid on the value/price ratio. Our places serve Newcastle and Yuengling in addition to the Buds/Coors.

                And yeah, the Bloomin' Onion thing... yecch.

                1. The Outbacks in SoCal are much better then you described with steaks which are not over done, good selection of microbrews on tap, and a decent wine selection (it's California after all). It isn't a great steak house but for $20 it is a good value. Sure, I can go to a fancy steak house and get a $50 masterpiece but sometimes I just don't feel like shelling out that kind of cash and with a coupon you can get a porterhouse for around $15 which is decent.

                  1. Let's face it. Outback is a typcial mid-level Steakhouse Chain. It doesn't want to be more than that, and most locations I have been to, they are doing a good job at it. My experience is that the beer selection is actually not bad.
                    Besides the fact that they give most of their dishes and Aussi-type name, the menu is actually fairly typical with a few - sometimes innovative - specialties that you wouldn't find at a typical steakhouse. I go their once in a while when I want a decent burger.
                    The low point for me are the fries. Whatever they are trying to do with these "Aussie Chips" it is not working. They are not crisp and have an unusual, in my opinion somewhat unpleasant taste. My priniciple is: Fries are pretty unhealthy to begin. So if I deliberately decide to do something unhealthy I must get an appropriate amount of pleasure out of it. And I don't get any pleasure out of eating Aussie Chips. Select a different side dish.
                    The high point is the "Blue Cheese Pecan Chopped Salad". For a chain place this a stroke of genius. The combination of the cinnamon pecans, the crips greens, the blue chesse, the dressing and somes herbs is flavor and texture heaven for me. The combined taste of the ingredients amounts to something new and unexpected. The texture of this salad is crips and smooth at the same time, it has something almost sensual.
                    Sometimes I just get this salad and a beer. With the pretty decent bread you get this can be a pretty satisfying and cost efficient dinner.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: FoodFetish

                      This is basically my read on Outback. They're basically just what they ought to be. The service when I've been has always been at least efficient and often pretty good, the drinks are solid and the steaks and burgers cooked to order and always exactly as I've specified them.

                      1. re: FoodFetish

                        I agree on the Blue Cheese Pecan Chopped Salad one of my faves and you can get it with steak (small but probably the right size) for pretty reasonable.

                        1. re: FoodFetish

                          That's an insult to typical mid-level steakhouse chains everywhere.


                        2. i like outback but not so much since i dont eat steak. mainly go there when i am craving a drink since no other restaurants sells mixed drinks in our part of the county but outback since it is in another city in the county. but the salmon is so so. i usually get the alice springs chicken which has always been good. the couple times i had the ribs there it was very good. fall off the bone. yum! but i love the wheat bread that they serve. even though i know that i can get it in the grocery store.

                          1. Where in Mississauga was it. The only one I know of in Miss. closed about a year ago and was replaced by a Milestones ( Mavis and Matheson area). Having said that the meat they use in Canada is nowhere near the quality that they use in the US. In Canada it is AAA beef ( supposedly) and in the US they use USDA choice from corn fed beef from midwest packing houses. Believe me there is a world of difference in quality.
                            In Canada it is run by Cara Operations which has a less than stellar reputation for quality in their restaurants. They have closed more units than they have opened in the last 2 years.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: ishmael

                              It's on Dixon road near the airport and the Royal Woodbine golf course.

                              1. re: ScoobySnacks20

                                Thanks. That is technically not Miss. but Etobicoke but I know the one that you mean.

                              2. re: ishmael

                                Not to defend Cara Operations by any means but they dumped the Outback banner about a year ago. They're now operated (NYSE: OSI) by a separate corporation.


                                1. re: eller

                                  I believe that is true in the US but not in Canada. As far as I can tell Cara still runs Outback in Canada.

                                2. re: ishmael

                                  The Outback locations I've visited in the Toronto area (not voluntarily after a while) were all busy. I never liked the food, but others clearly disagreed.

                                  It seems that Cara, for whatever reasons, severed their connection with Outback and turned most of the locations into different Cara brands. This makes sense to me as an outsider. Cara is a major franchiser of restaurants. Why operate places that are franchised by someone else? If any Outback locations still exist in Canada, they would have been sold to another company. Outback isn't mentioned on Cara's website.

                                  The Outback at York Mills and Leslie became a Swiss Chalet; you mention another that became a Milestones. Both are run by Cara. Actually, Swiss Chalet does a few things very well and Milestones, for a mainstream chain resto, can be quite good. I've seen locations where Cara has lined up a Kelseys, a Montana's, and a Milestone's, all in a row. The prices aren't as different as it might appear at first glance, but the food certainly is. Kelsey's and Montana's are pretty bad. But each is targeted to a different demographic, and it seems to work for them.

                                3. Outback has never impressed me but the one near me in Lakewood, Ca is CONSTANTLY packed. I just don't see what's so special about an unseasoned piece of meat sitting next to a bunch of plain broccoli on a plate. They do nothing to make the food look appetizing there in my experience. The only think worth going there for is the onion, but I think Chili's Awesome Blossom is better plus the thing is like 2000 calories. If I must go to a steakhouse chain I stick with Black Angus. Great giant fried shrimp and the cheesy garlic bread steak sandwich is sin defined. Good restaurant style junk food.

                                  1. Your lucky you have the Keg. I wish we had it down here in CA. The Outback in So Cal is pretty good for pork chops. If I want steak, I much prefer North Woods Inn

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: calabasas_trafalgar

                                      The Vegas Outbacks are decently good, to even great at times. I consistantly get exactally what I ordered there, my steak cooked perfectly. (i've never had to send it back! this is nice!) The Blooming Onion can be good, but i've also had it be a total grease-bomb artery-clogger.
                                      I actually like the spice mixture they use on the steaks, and have made something very close to use at home when I BBQ.

                                      I wish we had North Woods Inns here in Vegas, tho! I love going there, but allways get the same thing: the steak kebabs. The quality of their steak is really good, but I think their seasonings are on the bland side. LOVELOVELOVE both their salads! I can eat the whole wooden bowl of their red cabbage salad by myself!

                                      On the whole, Outback is one of my more-liked food chains. I'd rather eat there than Applebee's ANY day!

                                      1. re: Honeychan

                                        Don't mean to hijack this but...Honeychan, I looked at your profile...they have a Yokohama Kaigenro in Vegas? Is it a chain? I love this place, I thought the one in Downtown LA was the only one. It's about the only place outside of Japan where you can get a good Tanmen that I know of.

                                        My favorite place in Vegas is The Tillerman.

                                        1. re: calabasas_trafalgar

                                          Calabasas: Yes, there's a Yokohama Kaigenro here in LV! Across the street from the Hard Rock hotel/casino. The food's excellent- and it -is- sister property to the shop in Little Tokyo.
                                          Love them lots, as they are great for late-night eats after getting off of work. (open till 2am!)

                                    2. I ate at Outback one time, and was not impressed at all. The service was poor, and the steak I had was not cooked correctly, and was basically flavorless. I have returned for drinks, they do pour a healthy sized shot, and a bar that is not too crowded. Id go back for a drink, but never for food again.

                                      1. All this Outback bashing I've got to say I love there prime rib cooked in rock salt and that molassas bread.Only thing I eat there.Bloomin Onions a grease bomb don't like it.

                                        1. Apps: grilled shrimp okay; onion is mainlining fat
                                          Salads: mediocre at best
                                          Sides: see salad
                                          Steaks: on a good day, see salads
                                          Never had a dessert

                                          6 Replies
                                            1. re: steakman55

                                              Ouch! ROFL

                                              So sad but true!

                                              BTW Can I quote you on my blog?

                                              1. re: steakman55

                                                I am lucky enough to avoid chains on most occasions. I have been to the 99 for drinks and apps, and there is a regions NE chain which serves good burgers. Have never been to Applebee's, Cheesecake Factory, Lonestar, Friday's Ruby Tuesday, Chili's etc. Well, my luck ran out last night. A former co worker was treating me to dinner- and we went to the Outback. I now understand your assessment.
                                                I got one of their "signature" cocktails. Supposed to be lemonade based- but all I tasted was sweet. It was pretty, but that is about all. I got the sirloin with garlic mashed and gren beans. The potaotes were not really hot, not at all creamy, and just gave me garlic breath. The green beans looked promising on the plate- looked like small haricot verts. But they were overcooked, and they used some kind of weird spice on them. Could not tell what it was, but they did not taste like grenn beans. Surprisingly enough, my steak was cooked rare- exactly as I had ordered it. When I orderd the steak rare, the waitress told me it would have a red center. don't know what that was all about- but it was cooked correctly, and was not as bad as I thought it would be.
                                                My DC got the shrimp griller- served with a salad. The salad looked AWFUL. Wimpy tomaotes, shredded cheese from a plastic bag, and crouton that looked like they were covered in sand. He said the shrimp was ok- and the grilled pineapple looked good. No dessert for either of us. I was surprised they could get the proteins cooked correctly, but really messed up on the sides. Will not be back soon!

                                                1. re: macca

                                                  I've had reasonably good experiences at the Outback's in SoCal until last year, when the quality of the food went way down hill. I must admit that the best Outback experience I ever had was, in all places, Indianapolis. The steaks were cooked perfectly and were delicious. The drinks were cold and strong. The service was friendly, professional, and perfect all night. I'm headed back to Indy next week and frankly I'm thinking about going to that Outback again. But then again - should I tempt fate?

                                                  1. re: OneJayneDoe

                                                    Our service was fine, and my steak was cooked perfectly, and was not too b ad. All of the sides, however, were horrible. I would be hard pressed to return. Especially,as WHS says, there are too many other options nearby. If I were going to Indy, I for sure would be looking for a great rib joint!

                                              2. Up until a few weeks ago, my experience with Outback was limited as there wasn't one in my area. There is one near my son's college so occasionally he wants to eat there when I visit (I always take him out for dinner, his choice of restaurant). An Outback just opened in my neighborhood a few weeks ago and we went there last night. It was packed--1/2 hr wait when we came in, and it was 1 hr wait when we left. I usually get salmon but was in the mood for something different, so I got the Hearts of Gold Tilapia. It was good, fish cooked fine, side dish of veggies weren't overcooked. My son got his usual, the Alice Spring Chicken. We also shared a bowl of French Onion Soup, which was just a little salty but otherwise good. The service was excellent, considering how busy they were. We were greeted by our waiter within 1 minute of sitting down, drinks came quickly (and refills were too as well), food came out timely, etc. I have no problem going back.

                                                1. Why bother with this calculated corporate invention when there are so many authentic food experiences available? They offer you a safe, market-tested meal that is not meant to offend. Big deal--you're paying for their advertising.

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: whs

                                                    WHS, I think you just described PF Chang's.

                                                    1. re: Leper

                                                      In some towns, especially some college towns, Outback is going to be the best place to eat when parents come to town. Sure, the local falafel joint is great, there might be a kebab place that kicks ass, you can get great pizza and vegerarian food, as well as some of the best bar food in the world. Maybe some decent mexican food as well. But really, the Outback, Pizzeria Unos, Ruby Tuesday's, and/or Cheesecake Factory are going to be perfect for family visits and other special occasions. Not because the food is incredible, not because of great service, but because it's supposed to be good, or a special treat, or whatever.

                                                      1. re: jesse

                                                        I spend a lot of time in a college town, and there are quite a few locally-owned places that serve much better food in much better atmospheres. In fact, most of the chain places are well removed fform the University and Downtown. The local, mid to high end places are dominant.

                                                        1. re: mojoeater

                                                          You can always tell someone who spent time in Charlottesville. They capitalize "University." :)

                                                          A lot of people go for the familiar and Outback often fulfills that for folks. I've never minded it, and if you want a steak...heck, there's worse out there.

                                                        2. re: jesse

                                                          Jesse, you hit the nail right on the head. Except...my son and his friends don't eat at the local joints, for some reason. I've offered more than once to take him there. Taqueria down the street? Nope. Drive 15 minutes from campus for pizza? Nope. CPK, Outback, Black Angus, Marie Callendars, Dennys, Chili's and a few others are all within a 5 minute drive, and that's where everyone goes (even without the parental units). In all my visits in the last 2 years, only once have we gone someplace "local", and that was sort of a diner, with a limited American style menu (burgers etc). Don't ask me why, that's just the way it is.

                                                          1. re: rednails

                                                            Most Americans--especially young Americans--tend to be risk-averse and need predictability, which chains provide.

                                                            1. re: whs

                                                              Interesting observation. I understand that the chains provide predictability, which is fine by me, actually, but I'm not sure I agree that most Americans are risk-averse. Can you elaborate your thinking on that position?

                                                              1. re: whs

                                                                WHS, interesting point. I was always wondering why restaurant chains are so popular and successful in the US as compared to - say - some European countries. In Germany, e.g. the only chains that are somewhat prevalent are BK and McD. There are virtually no mid-level chain restaurants like TGIF, Applebee's, etc.

                                                      2. I have eaten there a few times. Like their bread, the rest of the food is okay. I left feeling I could have done better.....

                                                        1. Am I mistaken, or has Outback really changed a lot since they first opened. Seems to me that their selection of steaks is about half what it was before - now they have only two or three steaks that you can order 2 or 3 ways. I distinctly remember having a friend get me to order the porterhouse once (they had a different name), and it sure as heck isnt on the menu. I also thought the quality of meat was better... of course memory is a very subjective instrument

                                                          1. I've always liked my food at Outback!! I'm glad there weren't any char marks on your steak as they use a flat top grill with steak weight!! I usually ask for extra seasoning and get the filet! I think the price is decent and the food above average for a chain!!

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: sweetnspicy

                                                              Out back is alright,but it's kind of pricy,at least for me.I like Texas Roadhouse in Live Oak by the movie theatre better.I always have a good steak or other item,not too price about average and good sides.They have good rolls and they put little buckets of peanuts on the table for you to munch on,just throw the shells on the floor.I just put them on the plate they give you for the rolls.

                                                              1. re: HollyDolly

                                                                They do have yummy roles.... and I usually stuff myself with peanuts too.

                                                            2. Funny thing... wife and I got back from 10 days in Rome/Florence where (with one exception) everything we ate was marvelous.

                                                              So what to eat when we arrived back last night?

                                                              After serious consideration, we agreed that the only thing that made sense in context with our trip was to indulge on Outback bacon burgers on our way home from the airport.

                                                              And they were delicious.

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                OK, someone tell me what tastes relatively OK here, because my new SIL is obsessed with this place and I can see many more trips in my future. The first time (having never been before), I thought, "Oh, how bad could it be? It'll be a guilty pleasure." Got a steak with green beans and potatoes and everything was covered in this harsh, chemically-tasting, mind-numbingly salty spice mix. Second time, I thought "Oh, I'm sure it wasn't really that bad," ordered something else (and tasted my mate's fish), and same thing. Until I'm putting the fork into my mouth I don't really comprehend how bad it is. Are the burgers all right? Is that the way to go?

                                                                I only WISH it were unseasoned. Bleah.

                                                                1. re: BostonCookieMonster

                                                                  I got the green beans, too- horrible, as were the mashed. I asked them to cook my steak with just S/P, so it was not as bad. Only been there once- and will not be back.

                                                                  1. re: BostonCookieMonster

                                                                    I think a burger is a very safer bet than the steaks.

                                                                    1. re: BostonCookieMonster

                                                                      Exactly my response. Take that nasty stuff off and just give me the steak! I think they put that stuff on to hide the low quality mass-produced frozen ingredients they use. I love, love, love steak, but I've never understood why anyone would go here when they could go to an actual steakhouse, or for that matter go for any other carefully prepared local cuisine. Maybe living in NYC I'm spoiled, but most of the time when I go out to visit my clients in Suffolk County (Long Island) this is where they want to take me - or Dave & Busters, which is worse and like some kind of loud weird arcade of manufactured "fun" for (semi-) grown-ups (thank goodness I've finally been able to nix the excerable Applebee's from the client dining list). Most of the people I work with out there are younger than me and have never actually been to any of the local restaurants that aren't a diner or a pizza place, and seem to have little or no curiousity at all about them.

                                                                      1. re: BostonCookieMonster

                                                                        I like their burgers and the lobster tails (they are actually a bargain) and the salmon. Also the cheese fries with ranch are my guilty pleasure.

                                                                    2. Unfortunately, All Outbacks aren't created equally - hence maybe all the opposing opinions too. I refuse to go to one that is equal distance from my home to another one that is sooo far superior. I do know that they are managed by two different regional managers - could that have something to do with service and how they order and actually cook their food. No kidding, big difference in the two restaurants and I only order two cuts of meat - prime rib and rib eye. Never failed, the one we stopped going to was lousy every time - perfect at the other. I don't get it.