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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.