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Outback downhill slide?

Midlife Apr 20, 2010 04:46 PM

We used to enjoy Outback as little as 5 years ago. My wife would order prime rib and I'd usually get the babyback/bbq chicken combo. Haven't been back until the other night. Is it our memory or have things really changed?

They apparently no longer offer their bbq chicken combo'ed with ribs but now you get it with a chicken breast drowned in mushrooms and cheese? My wife ordered a rib-eye medium and found it almost inedible. Very small portion and more fat than most ribeyes we'd buy at our local market. The baked potatoes are still good, but now about half the size we remembered.

I'm assuming that portion size is an adjustment they've made to maintain reasonable pricing, and I don't disagree in principle. But I'd rather have just a bbq chicken breast (the original way) than the glop with the cheese all over it. And changing portion and quality at the same time has lost me as a customer.

Was this just an off visit or is Outback really only "a shadow of it's former self"? At least the draft beers were good.

I really CAN make a MUCH better meal for less than half the price at home. Except for the prep time, it's a no brainer.

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    Velvet Elvis RE: Midlife Apr 20, 2010 09:10 PM

    It has definitely gotten worse over the last 5-10 years.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Velvet Elvis
      HungryinBmore RE: Velvet Elvis Apr 20, 2010 10:29 PM

      You need to order correctly and/or more clearly and say you want a BBQ Chicken Breast and not Alice Springs chicken which sounds more like what you are claiming landed on your plate...melted cheese and shroom's over chicken.

      COMPLETELY differently entrees. ..

      1. re: HungryinBmore
        Midlife RE: HungryinBmore Apr 20, 2010 11:25 PM

        I know they're different. The menu didn't say that BBQ chicken was a sub option and I just gave the Alice Springs a try without asking. Sounded good. Bad decision.

        1. re: Midlife
          ellen4441 RE: Midlife May 8, 2010 09:25 AM

          IMO, the menu should go back to the BBQ RIBS + BBQ CHICKEN,
          with a "glop" option, (cheese & mushrooms)....

          bbq item should go with another bbq item...
          make the BBQ CHICKEN the STANDARD/default choice...

          I noticed too much promoting of their gloppy dishes on the menu...
          IMO, just my own opinion...

          p.s . go easy on Midlife, fellow Chowhounders, (pretty please?!?)

          1. re: ellen4441
            Midlife RE: ellen4441 May 8, 2010 10:04 AM

            Thanks ellen4441,

            I'm fine. I don't really see anyone taking issue with the quality, but some people read posts and see something other that what the poster wrote. Not sure what to do about that except point it out as I did in the part of the thread below this. HungryinBmore hasn't come back to rebut, so I can only presume they realized they'd misread. No harm..... no foul.

            I agree with your comments, but realize that I don't own Outback and don't have to answer for their bottom line.

            1. re: Midlife
              ellen4441 RE: Midlife May 8, 2010 05:00 PM

              No, we don't own Outbacks, but we are still able to speak strong with our wallets ! (power in numbers, right?)

              1. re: ellen4441
                Midlife RE: ellen4441 May 8, 2010 05:26 PM

                I understand, but I still see long waits at our local location when I go by. Apparently their 'average' customer is still fine with what they serve.

                1. re: Midlife
                  FrankD RE: Midlife May 9, 2010 04:31 AM

                  On the other hand, the Outback in my location, a northern suburb of Toronto, closed about six months ago. Meanwhile, just across the street, two Canadian chains of equally forgettable food, Kelsey's and Montana's, are still open.

                  1. re: Midlife
                    ellen4441 RE: Midlife May 9, 2010 09:56 PM

                    I still prefer patroninzing the independant "ma pa's", though...
                    that's why I'm a "Chowhounder" ...!

                    1. re: ellen4441
                      Augie6 RE: ellen4441 Dec 28, 2010 07:48 AM

                      I remember Outback being a little more distinguished than most steak chains. Meaning, no melted cheese on every item or a $10 meat subsitute for a steak. That did change they are turning into more of a Fridays type.

                      Ellen I agree with you, I love going to ma and pa places, even if i get a bad meal. I live in subarbs of Pittsburgh and unfortunatly the chains are taking over!!

      2. melpy RE: Midlife Apr 22, 2010 10:19 AM

        I would say in general the quality has suffered a bit in correlation with the affordable menu. I must say I miss quite of few of the older items. (Shrimp on the Barbie comes to mind specifically). Unrelated- I don't enjoy the regionality of the menu. My absolute favorite item in MD was to add a lobster tail with drawn butter (their drawn butter is like crack, SO ADDICTIVE). In PA, they used to do crab cakes instead.

        We still go to the Outback occasionally but I am more apt to try other things on the menu. Kudos to them for adding nutrition facts to their web site!

        14 Replies
        1. re: melpy
          HungryinBmore RE: melpy Apr 23, 2010 08:14 AM

          Well it's not Outback's fault you didn't speak up and say exactly what you wanted. Take responsibility for your mistake(s) before coming to CH and bashing/critiquing a restaurant unnecessarily.
          You state "but now you get it with a chicken breast drowned in mushrooms and cheese?"

          No, you ordered APS, and got exactly that. How you expected APS Chicken to taste anything remotely like BBQ Chicken is beyond me. two different meals. Next time tell your server you want a BBQ Chicken breast. With or without sauce, or sauce on side.
          So instead of cheese and shroom's, you have BBQ Chicken. Simple.

          1. re: HungryinBmore
            Midlife RE: HungryinBmore Apr 23, 2010 11:38 AM

            Whoa there, HungryinBmore. I admire your defense of Outback, but I think you've got some things a bit out of whack.

            First, In my original post I never said that they served me something other than what I ordered. I said: "They APPARENTLY no longer OFFER their bbq chicken combo'ed with ribs but now you get it with a chicken breast drowned in mushrooms and cheese?" If you would be kind enough to think about it, I didn't blame Outback for what they served me. I was criticizing the item they now offer as the chicken pairing with ribs on the menu. In my opinion, obviously, Alice Springs Chicken is not a good dish. If you like it..... fine, all I said was that I didn't. In my humble opinion, Outback made a menu sub to keep a price point. I applaud them for that, but I didn't enjoy the new item. Period...

            Second........... I understand that, even with a relatively short topic like this, people don't read every post before they comment, but...........I responded to your first post with "I know they're different. The menu didn't say that BBQ chicken was a sub option and I just gave the Alice Springs a try without asking. Sounded good. Bad decision.". Didn't that clear it up for you?

            There's a topic going now (I think in Site Talk) about things we don't like about Chowhound. I really love these boards, except when someone posts with both barrels blazing and has really misinterpreted the person they're blasting. It's only human, I guess, but I think a re-read will prove to you that you were off-base. I ORDERED THE COMBO KNOWING IT CAME WITH ALICE SPRINGS CHICKEN. I didn't like the Alice Springs Chicken, my wife's ribeye was pitifully fatty, and the baked potatoes were much smaller than they used to be. Those are all facts, not opinions.

            1. re: Midlife
              werewolf RE: Midlife May 3, 2010 08:50 PM

              Outbacks used to be excellent. Key words are "used to be".

              1. re: werewolf
                mcf RE: werewolf May 4, 2010 08:32 AM

                I agree. We almost always ordered the Outback Special, which was thick, juicy sirloin steak and is now not so tender, thinner and rarely cooked correctly to order.
                The salads used to be huge (love the garlicky Caesar) and are skimpy now, too.
                How much does lettuce cost???

                We used to go often, but rarely do these days for various reasons, but it's slipped out of our rotation due to disappointing meals.

                1. re: mcf
                  rednails RE: mcf May 4, 2010 04:36 PM

                  "How much does lettuce cost???"

                  Not a defense of Outback, but depending on where the lettuce comes from, it can be expensive. California has had a drought for the last several years, so produce has been more costly.

                  I ate at Outback last week (Stockton CA) and couldn't tell any difference from when I first ate at that location 4+ years ago. But then again, my order is pretty standard--fish (salmon) and veggies, or baby back ribs. Ribs (3 weeks ago) were almost falling off the bone, as usual. Salmon may have been an ounce or 2 smaller, but otherwise the usual fare.

                  1. re: rednails
                    mcf RE: rednails May 4, 2010 05:17 PM

                    I'm comparing it to more than four years back, though it's been a bit more disappointing any time I've gone in the past few years, too.

                    1. re: mcf
                      werewolf RE: mcf May 4, 2010 09:30 PM

                      I'm remembering them from like twenty years ago

                      1. re: werewolf
                        rednails RE: werewolf May 5, 2010 10:21 AM

                        OK then, you may have a point there. I first ate at Outback sometime in the fall of 2005/early 2006 when my son started college in Stockton CA. They didn't open in my area til about 2 years ago.

                  2. re: mcf
                    javaandjazz RE: mcf Dec 20, 2010 02:54 AM

                    I always order the Outback Special. To me it had a gamey livery tatste, not sure if it was grass fed or not but I enjoyed the flavor and never had any fat or grizzle.Yesterday we went back and I ordered the special again and I noticed immediately it lacked that flavor I always enjoyed and the steak itself seemed like a different cut with different texture. I know Outback was recently sold sometime this year or last so I am assuming things are being cheapened up.

                    1. re: javaandjazz
                      mcf RE: javaandjazz Dec 20, 2010 12:31 PM

                      I always ordered the Outback Special, too, and the meat quality went downhill long before this year. Smaller, thinner, less flavor, less tender... bleah

                      1. re: javaandjazz
                        Steve Green RE: javaandjazz Dec 21, 2010 08:36 PM

                        javaandjazz said: "To me it had a gamey livery taste....."

                        Interesting. That "gamey livery taste" is exactly why I DON'T like the steaks at Outback, and haven't for years, ever since they started tasting that way. My understanding is that the livery taste is from improper wet aging. Personally, I don't think that steaks should taste like liver, but to each his own.

                        1. re: Steve Green
                          mcf RE: Steve Green Dec 22, 2010 07:15 AM

                          I never tasted a gamey, livery steak when I still enjoyed Outback (the only chain I've ever frequented). The steaks used to be thick, juicy, tender and well charred outside. I'm with you about livery, off tastes.

                    2. re: werewolf
                      Midlife RE: werewolf May 5, 2010 11:45 AM

                      Hence.............. the title of this topic.

                      I remember Outback being pretty good as little as 5 years ago. The last 2+ years have forced major changes in lots of businesses.

                      1. re: Midlife
                        mcf RE: Midlife May 7, 2010 04:29 PM

                        Compared to 10 or more years ago, as werewolf says, five years ago was already showing decline, but a lot better than now. Including service, not just food quality and prep.

              2. MangosSurpriseMe RE: Midlife May 7, 2010 09:14 PM

                They've definitely gone downhill. While I don't care for chain restaurants in general, Outback was one that I always loved because their food was so fresh. Now, the bread (my family's former crack-like addiction) seems stale, the vegetables are often overcooked, and the salads are skimpy. I also wish they trimmed their NY strips a bit more.

                Now I only go when I must.

                1. ellen4441 RE: Midlife May 7, 2010 09:47 PM

                  I'll usually do the curbside take away about once a month or so, & I order VERY carefully!!
                  I always say "pittsburgh style", medium, on the steak, so I get some good crust ...
                  or else it just looks like roasted steak...very BORING, yawn)

                  & lately I mostly just stick with their 6 ounce steak for $9.99....
                  (& occasionally, the porterhouse)......they seem to taste better than the others...
                  (I did'nt like dropping $25 for some of the others, & not liking them...
                  IMO, the prime rib is less than average!!!)

                  I've had better experiences with most of you regarding the salads, as the Egg Harbor Township, NJ (10 miles from Atlantic City) always has given me very nice sized salads, to go along with that $9.99 special...

                  & I do like their caesar salad with grilled chicken..

                  It's funny, cuz one time last year I was so disappointed after I got home with the stingy portion on the "Tassie buffalo chicken fingers", that I actually brought them back to the curbside takeaway booth.... apparently, it called for the manager to come out and explain to me, very nicely, that YES, this was actually supposed to be the proper serving size...
                  However, they did appease me by making me a much better new one...
                  Well, IRONICALLY (?), when I got the chicken fingers last month, I noticed a much bigger looking portion!! (maybe some others voiced their opinions, besides me?!?)

                  Outback fits in nicely for me, cuz it's only a mile away from my condo, and I can hit the take away on my way home from work.....it's a decent hometown spot, cuz I can't eat pizza and cheesteaks here in AC area every night!
                  I would'nt eat there while I'm out of town , or on vacation, though!!!
                  (too many other places to try!)

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: ellen4441
                    ellen4441 RE: ellen4441 May 7, 2010 10:45 PM

                    p.s. ...I've delegated Outback to curbside takeaway....don't feel the desire to actually eat
                    inside the restaurant anymore, (have'nt been inside there in about 5 years)
                    I'd rather just give the gal a couple of bucks, and pull away with my food...
                    & I'm home in 5 minutes...

                    pps.... I could'nt see waiting an hour to get into the place...(are the waits even that long anymore for Outback? Maybe on a Saturday night ? (espescially in a town with limited dining options?)

                    1. re: ellen4441
                      divadmas RE: ellen4441 May 16, 2014 11:50 AM

                      I have had excellent take out steak dinners at work but not from out back. Instead of take out grilling your own doesn't take much more time. Steak at grocery has jumped lately.

                      1. re: divadmas
                        zackly RE: divadmas May 16, 2014 12:09 PM

                        Agreed on grilling steaks @ home but I go to Outback for one thing, roast prime rib. That's hard to do and expensive @ home for two people. Outback used to be great but I agreee, they've slipped.I'd love a Longhorn to open around here.

                        1. re: zackly
                          Midlife RE: zackly May 16, 2014 12:34 PM

                          For whatever reason Longhorn doesn't seem to have any locations anywhere in California. :o(

                          1. re: zackly
                            fourunder RE: zackly May 16, 2014 12:42 PM

                            , roast prime rib. That's hard to do and expensive @ home for two people.


                            Rib Eye is always under $9.99/lb., usually 7-8 bucks, but often on sale for $4.99, especially at the holidays. A two or three rib roast extends to under $25....less than the cost of Prime Rib at most restaurants for one. Here's a thread on how to do it. It as simple as seasoning and sticking it in the oven for a couple of hours.


                            1. re: fourunder
                              zackly RE: fourunder May 16, 2014 01:41 PM

                              I never see rib roasts bonesless or bone in less than $50.00 where I shop and that usually only around Christmas plus it's a hassle roasting them (I've cooked thousands in restaurants) compared to grilling a steak.

                      2. decolady RE: Midlife May 9, 2010 02:39 AM

                        Yes, as little as 5 years ago we occasionally enjoyed Outback. Not now. I've been twice in the last year and can't see ever wanting to go back. When I noticed they no longer list Grilled Shrimp on the Barbie separately, but offer it with a steak option, I asked about ordering. The response was that they are not allowed by corporate to do that. Well, that's ridiculous. If they make it, they should be able to serve it separately. I don't eat beef so the shrimp were what I ordered if I went there.

                        Chopped bleu cheese salad used to be good. Now it is mostly lettuce and to find any pecans or bleu cheese you need a magnifying glass.

                        Also agree that the potatoes are smaller - both the white potatoes and the sweet potatoes.

                        They took the Drover's Platter off the menu quite some time back, but would still make it if you ordered it. The last time my spouse tried to do that it was another, "Corporate won't let us do that." Perhaps that's the cop-out local management is using, but it doesn't make us ever want to go back.

                        If Outback had not been so ready and willing in the past to sell things not "on the menu" perhaps it wouldn't be as disappointing now.

                        1. sockii RE: Midlife Dec 21, 2010 08:31 AM

                          Another vote that it's gone downhill. I'm not generally a chain fan like most of us here, blah blah blah, but Outback used to be one of my few chains of choice when stuck in suburbia and mall-ville. On my last few visits I found myself wondering if it was me or if the food had really started to suffer. Smaller portions of worse-quality meals. A number of my favorites gone from the menu like the coconut shrimp and the one steak salad with the nuts and crumbled blue cheese (the new one with an iceberg wedge is just "meh.") Definitely a case where downsizing economics has ruined the experience.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: sockii
                            javaandjazz RE: sockii Dec 21, 2010 01:25 PM

                            I gotta say I like the chopped blue cheese and pecan salad.

                            1. re: javaandjazz
                              jeanmarieok RE: javaandjazz Dec 21, 2010 06:24 PM

                              chopped blue cheese and pecan salad, and a grilled chicken sandwich with a sweet potato is my go to order at outback. it's always delicious. but i don't have a lot of experience with the rest of the menu..

                              1. re: javaandjazz
                                sockii RE: javaandjazz Dec 22, 2010 09:22 AM

                                They took that one off the menu where I'm at. As I said it's now an iceberg "wedge salad", not nearly as good as the old chopped salad topped with steak, IMO. I miss it so much as that was my dinner of choice whenever I used to go there .

                                1. re: sockii
                                  javaandjazz RE: sockii Dec 22, 2010 01:01 PM

                                  I still get the chopped pecan blue cheese salad in CT.

                            2. s
                              scorpionhoney RE: Midlife Feb 6, 2012 11:43 AM

                              I used to really like Outback -- the food seemed reasonably fresh and I could get it to go. Since I am sensitive to preservatives, sticking to their "hand cut" meat without seasoning seemed safe. Prime rib was a favorite at our house -- however -- starting late last year the prime rib changed. From large, rare tender slices to pre-cut, highly seasoned, done-to-death identical slices. You expect to find the plastic wrap it comes in still on the meat. I swear all they do is heat it in the microwave or throw it on a grill for two minutes and serve it to you. To make it worse, they touted this as a "positive change", telling you to pick "classic" or "wood fired" -- both are the same. Yuck. We don't go here anymore, though the hamburgers are still pretty good I've heard.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: scorpionhoney
                                werewolf RE: scorpionhoney Feb 9, 2012 08:26 PM

                                Years ago Outback was great. Now it sucks.

                              2. t
                                TheCarMan RE: Midlife Apr 20, 2014 07:19 AM

                                I've been to two Outback restaurants recently, one in northern NJ and the other near West Chester Pa --- both experiences were not all that great. The Bloomin' Onion, their signature appitizer, as disappointing at best. The prime rib was dry (ordered just a bit more than medium, not medium well). The half rack of ribs was tasteless. Need I say more? Sorry, but 2 for 2 in quite different places pretty much seals the deal.

                                1. Boston_Otter RE: Midlife Apr 21, 2014 06:31 AM

                                  No, I wouldn't say at all that it's "gone downhill" as a chain. Like any restaurant, there's good days and bad days depending on who's working there and what location you're at. I've had awful Outback experiences and really good ones, too. Just went last night, had great & prompt service, some surprisingly excellent drinks, a nicely rare but seared Outback Special with a garlic-parmesan crust, a blue cheese pecan chopped salad, and a side of grilled asparagus. Can't complain about a single thing I ate.

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: Boston_Otter
                                    Midlife RE: Boston_Otter Apr 21, 2014 08:12 AM

                                    Nice to know. Where were you? I gave up on them after 4 or 5 bad to mediocre experiences at different locations, but all in the same 200 mile zone.

                                    1. re: Boston_Otter
                                      mcf RE: Boston_Otter Apr 21, 2014 08:22 AM

                                      Having once been a frequent OB customer at a variety of locations in more than one state, I am no more, have not been for a few years.My experience is mirrored by those of many other one time regulars of long standing. The food quality and portion sizes slid downhill together several years ago. Then the service, once charming, fell apart, too.

                                      It's sucked compare to early days for years now.

                                      1. re: mcf
                                        Boston_Otter RE: mcf Apr 21, 2014 08:58 AM

                                        I'm sorry that the Outbacks in your area have slid in quality, but that doesn't mean that every single location of this chain has become poor. The ones I've been to have not. The portion sizes haven't changed, nor has the food quality. That's my personal experience.

                                        1. re: Boston_Otter
                                          melpy RE: Boston_Otter Apr 21, 2014 09:51 AM

                                          I would say it depends on when you first started going. We probably became frequents of The Outback in the late 90s. For about 10 years they really had some great food. Around 2008 things started to change gradually. The last six years have been hit or miss with quality although generally speaking the service is pretty consisent. I am talking all up and down the East coast.

                                          1. re: melpy
                                            mcf RE: melpy Apr 21, 2014 01:28 PM

                                            Yes, I started going in the 90s, and loved it, and I am not a chain restaurant visitor as a rule, never have been, but we were regulars in a few NY locations and in Florida before they came to our area in NY.

                                            I think those of us who've been eating there for decades are much more likely to recognize how much slippage there's been. The quality of the food and experience is nothing like it was.

                                            1. re: melpy
                                              Boston_Otter RE: melpy Apr 21, 2014 01:47 PM

                                              I've been eating at various Outbacks from time to time since the early '90s.

                                              1. re: Boston_Otter
                                                mcf RE: Boston_Otter Apr 21, 2014 03:05 PM

                                                I guess we just have differing expectations. I'm sure they're not buying lower grade steaks half the thickness they used to only in my area, or shrunken the Caesar salad in half just for my market, either.

                                                I kept going back hoping each awful meal was a one off, but it's the new, low, standard, most folks agree.

                                                1. re: mcf
                                                  Boston_Otter RE: mcf Apr 21, 2014 03:09 PM

                                                  I suppose that I'm blessed that all of the Outbacks I've been to in the past ten years have had normal sized, decent quality steaks and the same size side-salad I've always gotten. That includes Outbacks in Columbus, Boston, and various parts of Massachusetts. It's a shame yours do.

                                                  It has nothing to do with 'expectations' or individual evaluations of quality. Sorry.

                                                  1. re: Boston_Otter
                                                    mcf RE: Boston_Otter Apr 21, 2014 03:22 PM

                                                    Whatever makes you happy and satisfied is OK with me. But the MA reviews for OBS are divided between 1 star and 5, not much between.

                                                    1. re: mcf
                                                      Boston_Otter RE: mcf Apr 22, 2014 06:03 AM

                                                      By no means would I give any OBS a 5-star review, even on the best of days. It's a decent chain steakhouse that, in my experience, usually serves up a well-cooked and well-seasoned steak at a good price. I've had some leathery steaks and some lousy pieces of meat there, and some truly abysmal service... but I've had those experiences at non-chain steakeries too. I do have to admit that I'm a total sucker for the Kookaburra Wings. Whatever they coat those things with, it's addictive.

                                      2. i
                                        INDIANRIVERFL RE: Midlife Apr 21, 2014 09:22 AM

                                        Got a $25 card at Christmas, and bought a bloomin onion at my local in Palm Bay. Very off flavor from old grease. It has since shut down.

                                        Maybe on my next trip to Orlando, I can use it on something else.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: INDIANRIVERFL
                                          mcf RE: INDIANRIVERFL Apr 21, 2014 01:29 PM

                                          Yeah, one of the nearby town's Outback in an excellent location has shut down, too. In an area where chains thrive.

                                        2. l
                                          libgirl2 RE: Midlife Apr 22, 2014 08:30 AM

                                          The last time we went, I ordered the mahi mahi and it was salted to death--- and I like salty foods!

                                          1. sockii RE: Midlife Apr 22, 2014 08:51 AM

                                            Outback just keeps getting worse and worse.

                                            I haven't been back since last year -- I needed a quick lunch one day and was tempted to try the Chicken Artichoke Flatbread. It looked decent enough on the menu:


                                            The photo attached above is what it actually looked like when it came to my table - and yes, it tasted as vile as it looked.

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: sockii
                                              Boston_Otter RE: sockii Apr 22, 2014 10:40 AM

                                              This is why I don't order "flatbread" at a steakhouse.

                                              1. re: Boston_Otter
                                                sockii RE: Boston_Otter Apr 22, 2014 11:00 AM

                                                I think calling Outback an actual steakhouse these days is a bit of a stretch.

                                                And sometimes you just don't feel like a steak, and there aren't other dining alternatives nearby? Most of the steakhouses that are any good have decent options for those who are not into/don't feel like red meat.

                                                1. re: sockii
                                                  Boston_Otter RE: sockii Apr 22, 2014 11:15 AM

                                                  Well, it's called Outback Steakhouse, and they most definitely specialize in steak -- not flatbread -- so I think it's probably safe to call them an 'actual steakhouse' as opposed to a pizzaria. Their salads, chicken, lamb, and pork have always been excellent alternatives. I've gotten their seared ahi tuna salad several times and quite enjoyed it.

                                                  1. re: Boston_Otter
                                                    mcf RE: Boston_Otter Apr 22, 2014 02:23 PM

                                                    It's not a fish house any more than it's a pizza place.

                                                    I think the real problem is that folks are going into a crappy restaurant looking for decent food.

                                                    1. re: mcf
                                                      monkeyrotica RE: mcf Apr 28, 2014 07:44 AM

                                                      I think the problem is that instead of crappy restaurants improving the quality of their crap, they're just selling different crap to people who didn't like the original crap.

                                                      1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                        Midlife RE: monkeyrotica Apr 28, 2014 08:18 AM

                                                        Well that's cute, but many of the posts here talk about a definite reduction in quality. Outback was never Morton's but, for us anyway, it was a pretty good meal at one time. Not so of late.

                                                        If you're suggesting that people who once thought it was OK were wrong from the beginning, that's a whole different argument which is really kindof unnecessary.

                                                        1. re: Midlife
                                                          monkeyrotica RE: Midlife Apr 28, 2014 09:32 AM

                                                          Saying Outback's gone downhill is kinda like how they call theater "the magnificent invalid." It's been going downhill since ancient Greece. I actually think Outback's improved somewhat since the early '90s, at least in the steak department. What keeps me from going is the noise and the indifferent service and my tendency to grill my own steaks. I just find it interesting that mid-range chain eateries are fighting tooth and nail to distinguish themselves in an ever shrinking market. People are eating out less and when they are, it's fast casual stuff like Chipotle or higher end, small plates eateries. Outback is neither. I don't think chicken artichoke flatbread is going to change this situation.

                                            2. z
                                              zackly RE: Midlife Apr 28, 2014 08:27 AM

                                              I think they've gone downhill too. I love prime rib and Outback is only one of the very few places that offer it mid-week. The last couple times I've had it there it was tough & tasteless maybe a sign that they're using a lower grade of beef with less marbling (AKA: Flavor)? I know at one time they used USDC Choice grade. And their shrimp. My wife & I used to split an order of Shrimp on the Barbie as a starter. They used to buy wild caught domestic white shrimp but now I think they're using some farm raised tasteless product.

                                              17 Replies
                                              1. re: zackly
                                                tidbitt RE: zackly Apr 28, 2014 02:32 PM

                                                Outback has absolutely gone downhill over the last few years. Back in the day, their filet mignon was almost as good as a top-notch steakhouse. Now I don't think you can even get a true filet mignon. It's more like a filet of sirloin.

                                                But in spite of their downhill slide they still pack 'em in, much like Applebee's, Olive Garden, etc.

                                                1. re: tidbitt
                                                  zackly RE: tidbitt Apr 28, 2014 06:52 PM

                                                  I think they were faced with the dilemma many restaurants face. Either raise prices or buy lower quality food. They chose the latter & in seems to be working out for them. The unit near my house is always packed.

                                                  1. re: zackly
                                                    monkeyrotica RE: zackly Apr 29, 2014 03:55 AM

                                                    I'm always interested in seeing how low restaurants can go as they race to offer the poorest quality food at rock bottom prices. Judging by that Chicken Artichoke Flatbread, they haven't quite reached rock bottom yet. Chicken breast, canned artichoke, and gloppy sauce are all pretty cheap, but they serve the same slop at CiCi's Pizza Buffet and a bunch of them closed recently. Maybe a "Heart Smart" version that holds the sauce and toppings and just gives you flatbread with a glass of water for dipping?

                                                    1. re: zackly
                                                      Boston_Otter RE: zackly Apr 29, 2014 05:56 AM

                                                      Whether they're using canned artichokes for their new flatbread isn't my call, but their steaks most certainly haven't changed in size or quality, from my experience. And that's what I go to a steakhouse for. As you say, they're always packed, so they're certainly not aching for business.

                                                      1. re: Boston_Otter
                                                        mcf RE: Boston_Otter Apr 29, 2014 06:24 AM

                                                        The steak is the only thing I ever ate there and the severe drop in quality and size is why I stopped going. Happened often enough to prove it was a permanent fail.

                                                        1. re: mcf
                                                          Boston_Otter RE: mcf Apr 29, 2014 07:21 AM

                                                          It's a real shame that the locations you went to somehow started shrinking their steaks. I'm very glad that I haven't experienced that in the 15+ yrs I've been going to Outback at various locations.

                                                          1. re: Boston_Otter
                                                            mcf RE: Boston_Otter Apr 29, 2014 09:18 AM


                                                            1. re: mcf
                                                              Boston_Otter RE: mcf Apr 29, 2014 09:40 AM

                                                              By that I'm guessing that you mean that you don't actually believe that I've eaten the food that I have eaten. Okay!

                                                              1. re: Boston_Otter
                                                                sockii RE: Boston_Otter Apr 29, 2014 04:35 PM

                                                                I think some of us are just boggled by your dogged, continually insistent defense of a chain restaurant that many of us feel has gone greatly downhill. So, okay! Enjoy it if you wish. But accept that some of us used to like Outback, have been to Outbacks at many different locations, and think that today it is nowhere near as acceptable and decent as it used to be.

                                                                1. re: sockii
                                                                  Midlife RE: sockii Apr 29, 2014 04:48 PM

                                                                  This topic is under the watchful eye of the mods, so we can't get too energetic in our rebuttals. Don't ask me how I know; I'd probably have to deny it.

                                                                  1. re: sockii
                                                                    Boston_Otter RE: sockii Apr 29, 2014 05:01 PM

                                                                    Thank you, I will. Believe me, I have no stake in their steak, har har. If folks don't like it, that's completely okay with me. I've had some godawful meals at Outback, myself, when the service has been off and the food's on its last legs. But I've been going there for quite a long time, and completely reject the idea that at all Outbacks everywhere the steaks have mysteriously shrunk and become poor quality. It's simply untrue.

                                                                  2. re: Boston_Otter
                                                                    mcf RE: Boston_Otter Apr 29, 2014 05:28 PM

                                                                    I started eating there years before you did, so my experience of its best days is one you don't share.

                                                                    1. re: mcf
                                                                      Boston_Otter RE: mcf Apr 29, 2014 06:10 PM

                                                                      If their steaks and experience changed somewhere around 15-20 years ago, you're right, I didn't experience it much before that and can't comment on that. But in that time, in my experience, it most certainly hasn't become "crap" or "gone downhill" or "racing to offer the poorest quality food". It's been quite consistent. If you don't like it, that's totally okay.

                                                                      1. re: Boston_Otter
                                                                        mcf RE: Boston_Otter Apr 29, 2014 06:36 PM

                                                                        Well, all those 1 star reviews in MA were written by somebody.

                                                                        1. re: mcf
                                                                          Midlife RE: mcf Apr 29, 2014 09:16 PM

                                                                          You people DO realize that neither one of you is going to win this....... right?

                                                                          1. re: Midlife
                                                                            mcf RE: Midlife Apr 30, 2014 05:51 AM

                                                                            Yeah, BO played Rope-a- Dope and caught ME. ;-)

                                                      2. re: zackly
                                                        melpy RE: zackly Apr 29, 2014 08:25 AM

                                                        These are two of my major examples as well. The lobster tails also used to be much better too.

                                                      3. SaraAshley RE: Midlife Apr 28, 2014 07:36 PM

                                                        I haven't been to Outback in awhile, but I've always liked it for what it was. Their steaks have never been the draw for me, though. I go for the cheese fries, Caesar salad, bloomin onion and grilled shrimp on the barbie. It's an occasional trashy indulgent for me. Obviously not even close to the best food I've ever had, or anything i'd ever want to eat more than occasionally, but it hits the spot when I have it. But as I said, I haven't been in awhile so maybe it really is shit now.

                                                        1. c
                                                          centcomguy RE: Midlife May 16, 2014 10:53 AM

                                                          Outback has totally gone down hill. My wife and I used to love it sooooo much. Then, they spent millions to change the look of the welcoming area and some other upgrades. But, the food suffered. We went recently to give it another try since we have found better food/service at Longhorns. Well, we were right...Outback is done for us. I got a Ribeye that was completely flavorless and thin. The server certainly seemed ready to get us in and out as the food came out within 5 minutes of our salads being brought to us. Then she put the bill on the end of the table before we were half through with dinner. I guess she didn't care if we wanted dessert. So, we paid the bill and in an act of solidarity, I told her, "Can you please pack up the rest of our meal togo. I guess you can't wait for us to leave so we will...."

                                                          Longhorn has more choices, friendly staff, and never rushes us...ever. But, the best part...their steaks are GREAT!

                                                          1. j
                                                            jimbo1126 RE: Midlife May 18, 2014 07:16 PM

                                                            I finally used a gift card I got two Christmases ago today at a Houston Outback. I haven't been in many years but today's meal was awful. The NY Strip was cooked to the requested medium rare, but the meat itself was of no better quality than what I can get at Kroger on sale for $2.99 a pound. And it was tough.

                                                            The garlic mashed potatoes were instant, watery, and had no discernible garlic flavor. The wedge salad was largely inedible core, and the blue cheese dressing had little cheese and was SWEET. I mean sweeter than coleslaw dressing!

                                                            Service was fine and my Blue Moon was ice cold, but I'm glad the gift card covered most of the cost of this misadventure.

                                                            1. John E. RE: Midlife May 18, 2014 08:55 PM

                                                              I have eaten at Outback three or four times over the years. Other than their Bloomin' Onion, I have no idea how Outback Steakhouse could possibly have a 'downhill slide'.

                                                              1. w
                                                                werewolf RE: Midlife May 19, 2014 12:18 AM

                                                                I still remember a lamb dish I had at the Outback on Long Island, NY about 20 or 22 years ago. It was the best ever. I've tried a couple of Outbacks in recent years, and gone downhill is too true. Way downhill. I don't bother with it any more, but years ago it was very excellent.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: werewolf
                                                                  INDIANRIVERFL RE: werewolf May 19, 2014 04:49 AM

                                                                  For many years in this area, Outback was the only choice for consistent, good, quality lamb.

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