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Anything good at Outback?

My husband was given a $50 gift certificate for Outback Steakhouse. We went once years ago when my MIL wanted to go, were not impressed and never went back. We were going to give away the gift certificate, but I thought I would first ask if anyone would recommend specific dishes worth the trip (only about 3 miles) as long as it is free.

We are in Long Beach, CA and I don't think any of the other OB chains are in our area, so we would have to go there.

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  1. Despite the general loathing for chains overall and Outback in particular you may run across on these boards, I've actually eaten pretty well there. Their prices have risen quite a bit in recent years so I don't think they are as much of a value as they used to be, but you're eating on someone else's dime -- at least partially -- so I guess that's not really so much of an issue.

    I think the steaks are generally well prepared but you won't be confusing this with a high end steakhouse anytime soon. I've had good luck with the rib-eye; my sons favor the New York Strip and my wife and daughter favor the filet. The Prime Rib, if they haven't run out, is also generally pretty reliable but beware: they may tell you they have medium rare but it can come out well-done. They usually come out spot on in terms of done-ness but it depends what you're used to -- high-end places usually cook their steaks much rarer than the more casual places. On the infrequent occasions we've been served a steak that was done past our liking, the staff quickly and without hesitation whisked it away and replaced it with a new one that was perfectly cooked, no problem.

    People love the famous Bloomin' Onion but I find it a little salty and those who value health over taste will tell you that one will likely kill you. I don't listen to people like that. Their soups are tasty but a little thick and pasty. I generally like their salads -- they have a good iceberg wedge and also a very good chopped salad with blue cheese and pecans. Most entrees (but not all -- read the menu carefully) come with a choice of two sides, which could include soup and salad if you wish, or veg and potato or any other combination you can think up.

    At our local location the service is friendly, efficient and enthusiastic but we've heard this can vary from over-enthusiastic (as in why the hell are you sitting down next to me) to inattentive and sullen.

    Very good selection of beers; okay wine list.

    1. I don't go often as they are always packed in my area, and it's not worth much of a wait, but I've always been impressed that they stick to a fairly limited menu, and do all of it reasonably well. It's not a high end steak joint, but it's fairly priced, and I've never had any horrible experiences there.

      My experience with the bloomin onion thing has always been of an oversalted grease slick. Pass.

      I don't hate Outback, but I do have a degree of loathing for their cousin Bonefish grill. I've been a couple times and again it's all passable, but I can't help but take issue with fairly pedestrian preparations masquerading as a fine dining experience.

      1. The steaks can be decent (for a place of this sort) if you ask for them to be cooked without their normal "seasoning" (i.e. massive salt-attack). The Bloomin' Onion is tasty while it's piping hot (about the first 45 sec. after it arrives), but a nasty grease-fest once it starts to cool. Best served to a group, not a couple.

        1. If you like lamb the lamb chops are quite good, that's what I usually get when I go (my father-in-law loves Outback). Salads are fine too.

          1. You can use your Outback gift card at The Bonefish, too.

            We do takeout probably once a month from Outback- we always get two chicken sandwiches, two sweet potatoes, and add two blue cheese chopped salads. It's a decent meal, and runs less than $25. You could get two meals for two on your gift card, if you go the takeout route.

            1. I no longer eat at Outback, but for reasons that have nothing to do with the food. I have never had a bad steak there. Not the best I've ever had, but far from the worst, and always consistent in their quality.

              I would steer (heh!) clear of the Bloomin' Onion, tho. I'm no longer 20 years old, and my constitution just can't handle that much grease at one time. As benbenberi said, they're pretty tasty when they're good and hot, but after they've cooled off, they're a gut bomb.

              Lastly, it always seemed a little unsettling to have the servers crouch down at the table when they take your order, too...it feels like a small invasion of personal space, even tho they're no closer than if they were standing upright. Maybe it's just me....

              1. I used to hate Outback, but with a toddler add to our family it has now become a reasonable option for takeout. We order online and pick up - the online page is great because they let you check the "omit seasoning" and "omit butter" options that others have commented on re: salt level. I typically order salmon because I think the steaks are always overcooked, but DH likes the ribs and shrimp combos. Desserts are decent - there was a new fall one with cinnamon ice cream, cinnamon apples and caramel that we really liked, and the classic brownie sundae is decent too. We never order apps.

                1. It's not great but the filet is passable (and hey, I like all that salty seasoning...). I usually get a baked potato or sweet potato on the side and a salad. Again, neither is spectacular but they are both reasonably good.

                  If your arteries are up for some serious punishment, I like to indulge in the very occasional order of cheese fries. But, be warned, they didn't make the top 10 worst foods to eat in America list for nothing.

                  1. I like the wedge salad, with bleu cheese and balsmaic glaze.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: wyogal

                      The wedge is one of my favorites and could easily eat one everyday for lunch.

                    2. My mother thinks their hot fudge is the "cat's meow". It is delish but, I'm not a big fan of chocolate.. She has bought it and taken it home!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Kitchen Queen

                        You know, I make and sell a really good hot fudge sauce. I sell a pretty good amount of it at our local farmer's market, so I feel like people like it, too. Nearly every weekend, I have one random person who will comment that they like mine, but they are really looking for a hot fudge sauce like Outback's. I'm going to need to check out their hot fudge, I think.

                      2. My mother (who lives with us) loves Outback, so we eat there occasionally. I personally consider it a step up from fast food, so it's not something I vehemently avoid, but I don't seek it out. The steaks/meats always seem to be overcooked and the sides undercooked. When we go, I usually indulge in dinner Caesar salad because out of everything they offer, their salads are consistently good. My mother likes their ribs and my husband can tolerate their salmon sans sauces/seasonings (with a bit of lemon). For free, I would definitely go and spend the money on salads and wine. ;-) (Just to add... they use a lot of preservatives and artificial additives/ food colorings in their foods. My dd has food intolerance and after a meal there where she ate far more bread than she should have, had a horrible reaction and when I called they said that yes, most of their foods have additives, including Red #40 in the bread.)

                        1. Crab Cakes
                          Prime Rib
                          Rack of Lamb

                          1. Thanks to everyone. We went last night and both got filet and shrimp combos. Yes, filet is not the best choice, but they are small there and most of their steaks are just too big for us. The shrimp were on a bed of sauteed, halved cherry tomatoes.The service was very good; the server split the salad we told her we were sharing onto two plates although we never thought to ask for that. It was a nice touch. We also liked that the regular and sweet potatoes we chose were small enough to actually finish. Neither of us had room for dessert. Everything except the sweet potato was salty, but no so much that it was inedible; I forgot to ask them to leave off the steak stuff.

                            We did not like it enough to go back if we have to pay for it ourselves, so the server got a very nice tip with what was left on the card.

                            1. I'm late but I wanted to respond.

                              Prime Rib (rate)
                              Alice Springs Chicken Quesadilla (w/mushrooms, bacon, cheese, and honey mustard)
                              BBQ Chicken & Bacon Sandwich
                              Grilled Chicken and Swiss Sandwich
                              Outbacker & Cheddar Bacon Burger
                              Ribyey 14 oz (rate)
                              Porterhouse 20 oz (rare)
                              Sauteed Mushrooms on the side of the steaks

                              I haven't eaten at Outback in years, this is my wish list.

                              1. Also posting late, but I love their Seared Ahi Tuna appetizer. and often get the large size along with fresh steamed broccoli for a very healthy and tasty meal. I also like the Blue Cheese Pecan Chopped salad...

                                1. Chains get hated on a lot here, but outback ain't bad. I do like the awesome blossom grease bomb as well as the cheese fries ( I think called Aussie fries or the like). For my entree I usually get the ribeye. It's always a good cut of meat, usually cooked to close the correct doneness, and generally a good value.

                                  1. I just went to an Outback for the first time in years (it was between that, iHop and a Ruby Tuesdays--we just needed food STAT!) and it was AWFUL. I am not normally a chain-food eater and I wanted to give it another try. The waitress (who was great) suggested their new "wood fired" items so we each got the little steaks and I got grilled shrimp and my SO got the mahi. Salt City. I felt parched for days after this meal.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: masha bousha

                                      They need to stop suggesting the wood fired thing. I went for prime rib medium rare with I know shouldn't be seasoned and seared or wood fired. The waitress asked if I had ever had it woodfirde and I said no. She countered that I should try it. I said fine but no seasoning. When it came out it was well done fired and seasoned. Because it took so long for her to come back I ate it anyway, annoyed.

                                      People, there is a reason that prime rib doesn't come seasoned and a reason it doesn't come wood fired. Outback needs to educate their servers that they write the menu a certain way for a reason. My lobster was also over done.

                                      My SO wanted seasoning on his outback special but it ce with none and was also woodfired. It was bland and woody tasting at the same time. We used to really enjoy this place before they redid the menu a few years back. Bring back the old high quality please!

                                    2. I have to say... the Kookaburra Wings at Outback are quite honestly some of my favorite wings anywhere, and the Blue Cheese Pecan Chopped salad is pretty excellent.

                                      1. The gift cert could cover a blooming onion and a few brews. I'd avoid most everything else.

                                        1. There is one right near my house and my wife and I used to go every once in awhile. Reason being it is reasonable. Understood you are not going to get a Peter Lugar quality steak or the best burger you have ever eater there, but it's passable.

                                          I will say I really like their green bean side. It's pretty buttery and salty and has this BBQ seasoning flavor to it.

                                          1. you know, i started out looking down on outback as inferior to Ruth's Chris (you might want to see threads about ruth's chris vs mortons and other steakhouses), but after eating there several more times, i really started to appreciate the food there. almost all their offerings are tasty and hearty. while this is not fine dining, i find it to be casual and delicious. of course you have to tell them that you want your steak cold center rare, and they never have prime rib that is truely rare, but the pr makes a good sandwich anyway. the prices are going up, though, but still worth your while, esp with a gift card.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: indelibledotink

                                              I agree with you. Every meal I eat out isn't fine dining, and Outback hasn't disappointed me for a casual meal.

                                              1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                I've always enjoyed Outback, though I have not been in over a year.

                                                The Blooming Onion is fantastic... Though I usually avoid the sauce and attempt to put away half of the thing myself within the first 3 minutes of it arriving. There are fewer greater 3 minute stretches a man can imagine than this... unless a fat chick is involved.

                                                I always get the Outback Special... out of habit... However, it used to be a $10 cut.. now it's up to around $15-16... This has killed everything for me... It's now a ripoff. Which likely explains why I have not been back in quite a while.

                                            2. 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.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: scorpionhoney

                                                I haven't been to Outback in 4 yrs. but we got a gift card for $50. for each band member from a place we played around Chistmas as a bonus so we're going this week. so now I'll see what I have or haven't been missing. going for the steak & a side & an appetizer. suggestions?

                                                1. re: riffjamer

                                                  Did you need more than all those extensively discussed above?

                                                  1. re: riffjamer

                                                    I suggest the wings, side salad (their ranch dressing is one of the only ones in the world I eat), burgers used to be pretty good. Having trouble cominnup with other items that haven't suffered from quality.