Review - Outback in Hamilton Twp.
My wife and I tried the new Outback on Klockner Rd. and Rt. 130 South next to the Home Depot in Hamilton Twp. We got there around 5:30 PM and it was already pretty crowded, but we did get seated right away.
Since this was our first experience at an Outback, we naturally had to try the “Bloomin Onion” as an appetizer. It was actually pretty good and as it turned out, the best thing of the evening.
I had the 9 oz. Victoria’s “Crowned” Filet with Blue Cheese along with a salad and an order of the Aussie Chips. The salad was okay but nothing special. The chips were not crisp at all and only lukewarm as was the filet. I’ve been having bad luck with filets lately. This one I can only describe as spongy. It didn’t taste that bad but the texture was weird. The blue cheese seemed to be salad dressing not crumbled cheese.
My wife had the Baby Back Ribs with a salad and sides of Aussie Chips and Cinnamon Apples. The salad and chips were the same as above. The ribs were tender enough but in our opinion had too much BBQ sauce on them, but that’s just our preference. We both like ribs with little or even no sauce, i.e., Memphis style with just a dry rub. The real looser was the Cinnamon Apples. This concoction came out as a goopy, syrupy mess with a couple of chunks of apple. It was inedible.
We decided to forego coffee and desert as we wanted to get home to watch a hockey game.
One thing that was unusual was that we had a waitress who took our order, but everything else was brought to our booth by different people, e.g., drinks, appetizer, water, bread and entrée, each by a different person. I don’t know whether this was a planned process or just a coincidence. In analyzing it, it probably is a more efficient use of personnel, but it certainly seemed strange.
Since they’ve only been open about a month, I might give them another try in about six months or so. But I have to tell ya, I was disappointed as I had heard nothing but good things about this chain in the past and was glad to see one open near us. If tonight was the best they could do, then I think Longhorn’s has them beat hands down.
I have read posts from you here and on nj.com, so I am familiar with with some of your preferences. I am surprised to hear you find Longhorn's better in quality and value, as I have not found that to be the case in Northern New Jersey, however, a very good friend has been trying to convince me the Ribs at Longhorn are excellent....he likes them to fall off the bone, but that in itself is not a true indicator for me to be a good BBQ Rib. I like a little more fight.
There are only four things I find Outback does well, regardless of prices assigned, which I feel are modest, and they are:
Rack of Lamb
Roast Prime Rib
Crab Cakes Appetizer and
Loaded Baked Potato.......but I find anything with butter and bacon to my liking.
All simply prepared items. Another friend finds the Salmon Entree very good and reasonably priced.
By the way.....it tough to be fair after patronizing Pete Lorenzo's.
I can’t really comment on other Longhorn restaurants as I’ve only been to the one near me. I’d guess however that they could vary significantly from location to location. Even if they all get their meat and produce from the same source, the chefs, cooks and managers can have a big impact on the final product. When I was in the Navy, too many years ago to enumerate, I was stationed on a number of different destroyers during my enlistment. Each destroyer in the fleet got exactly the same compliment of supplies and had the same menus, right down to specific meals for each day of the week, e.g., Wednesday’s breakfast was cornbread and beans on every destroyer in the fleet. It was amazing how the cooks on each ship could make such a difference in the outcome of the food, from almost inedible to pretty good, even when they were all following the same recipes.
I wouldn’t think of ordering rack of lamb at a chain, but on your recommendation I might try it the next time I’m there.
A poster on another board indicated that he felt that Lorenzo’s has gone downhill a bit in the last few years. I hate to admit it but I tend to agree with him. I’ve gone there a couple of times a year since the seventies and the last couple of times I’ve noticed that the steaks were not quite as tasty or as tender as they had been in the past. This might be due to a supply problem. I seem to recall reading that prime beef is harder to come by these days and is relatively more expensive than it was a couple of years ago. Hopefully, this is a temporary aberration and not a downward trend as Lorenzo’s is the only real steakhouse within a reasonable distance of my home.
While my experiences are not as seasoned as yours......I have been frequenting Pete Lorenzo's for about 10 years, twice a year, almost always as a guest of a friend who belongs to the TPC in Princeton. We almost always go there for dinner after golf. and I have found PL to be a reliable and enjoying experience. I might add that my friend is a regular there, so that may have something to do with it.
My only words of caution for you concerning the Rack of lamb at Outback is. they always seem to cook the meat to temperature one level less than ordered. I like my meat medium-rare and it usually comes out rare or less......Be sure you make a point of temperature.