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Been a while - Outback

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Had dinner at Outback this evening and was more than satisfied. I'm a huge fan of great steaks, but can't afford to go to Peter Luger, Bobby Van's or Morton' too often. So tonight I had a $25 gift card and a friend offering to take me to dinner so we hit up Outback. It's been at least two years since I've been and wasn't sure what to expect. I remember my last visit being a little off.

So we ordered some beers and perused the menu. I will say this about the menu. It's daunting when you see the calories next to some of the appetizers (1966 for the Blooming Onion). We went with the Coconut Shrimp. Sure it's probably not fresh, but honestly, they are tasty and the dipping sauce is nice. Great? No, but not bad. Our service was great, but I do have to say our waitress did mess up my order. I ordered a 22oz rib eye, but was given the 22oz porterhouse. As I mentioned on Facebook, when this is the worst thing to happen in your day, it's a good day. The steak was perfectly cooked, medium rare. The mashed potatoes were seasoned perfectly and the sauteed mushrooms were delicious. Swimming in their own juices, it made a wonderful sauce for the steak.

A little pricier than most chains, but the steak was truly wonderful. The same size and quality steak would cost double at a high end steak house. And yes, i have had worse at very high end steak houses. Glad I went back.

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  1. Glad to hear you had a good experience. Outback doesn't get a lot of love on these boards. I'm generally pretty happy with the food there, but the prices have shot up in recent years. I too like the Shrimp better than that Bloomin' Onion that feels like a heart attack just waiting to happen even if shared.

    We've never had a Steak come out other than perfectly cooked, although I can never get the Prime Rib as rare as I like it.

    1. I enjoy Outback, we occasionally (maybe 4x/year) have a drink at the bar and do takeaway for a quick, celebratory-feeling meal. We split a steak, salad, and potato dinner, after onion appetizer. (Bloomin Onion may be ~2000 calories but generally breaks down to 5 servings in all for us; it reheats well in oven/toaster oven if stored loosely in fridge.) Staff are always pleasant and positive. Steak generally tastes better than you'd expect. I'm a fan.

      1. It sure as hell won't get any love from me. Last time I ate at an Outback, I watched a server carrying a water pitcher around the dining room, from table to table. He carried it by inserting his thumb in the spout. When called on it, he didn't seem to think it was a problem.

        Like I said, it was the last time I ate at an Outback.

        8 Replies
        1. re: emu48

          If I judged every restaurant based on the actions of their worst server, I wouldn't ever dine in a place twice.

          1. re: jhopp217

            It's not about judging a whole restaurant chain based on one incident. Bad service can and does happen in good restaurants. But the memory of that grubby thumb in my drinking water is very vivid. It's about flashback and my gag reflex.

            1. re: emu48

              "Bad service can and does happen in good restaurants. But the memory of that grubby thumb in my drinking water is very vivid. It's about flashback and my gag reflex."

              Right. So don't go back to THAT PARTICULAR Outback. But don't trash the whole chain either.

              1. re: ttoommyy

                Very true. Many years ago my husband, then boyfriend, went to a very popular restaurant near his house. The place got great reviews and was always packed. We had terrible service. They basically told us at the door we would have to wait, despite open table and seating other people who came in after us. I think as I had on a jean mini-skirt, they didn't think I was their type of clientel (and this was a casual place). We walked out, never going back and when we went back to were he used to live (its been 5 years) they were closed.

                We have an Outback near us and have eaten there many times in the last few years. Only once we had below average service. Our server wasn't terribly friendly. Oddly he still works there so I assume (as its been 2 years) he was just having a bad day. Other then that I have had no problems and the food is quite good.

                1. re: libgirl2

                  There seems to be some confusion of poor service, which is merely annoying, and sanitation practices that can leave you much more than annoyed. Getting repeat business is about leaving customers with a pleasant memory. You dig what I'm saying? An experience in one chain store, good or bad, will influence your feelings about the entire chain. That's not entirely irrational: All the stores in a chain are managed similarly.

          2. re: emu48

            I'm sure the stuff you don't see in the back of the house is much worse. My exterminator does restaurants and there's only one he'll eat in from his roster.

            1. re: mcf

              Which one?

              1. re: acgold7

                It's a diner in a town near his office; says the owner does everything he tells him to and that the results are that the area is free of bugs/vermin and clean. He says it's the only customer who goes the distance to get the results.

          3. my aunt/uncle love it and turned me around on it. everything is quite salty (though this doesn't bother me), but the other spices are quite complimentary. my favorites there are the chicken wings with bloomin onion sauce, and whatever the 13.99 combo surf and turf. last time was a lobster tail and sirloin, currently its snow crab legs and the sirloin.

            1. They season their steaks nicely & cook 'em properly, and the Kookaburra wings are awesome. They even serve a lovely rare, peppered ahi tuna. I have no shame in enjoying Outback.

              1. I went there in mid-may and had the surf and turf sirloin and crab cakes. Dont go there often but I really liked my dinner. So did my boyfriend and his mom. Will be back there now and again. To bad they stopped using real juice in the coctails. I miss the kick ass mimosas.

                1. We go occasionally and I like it. Last time I had the Ahi Tuna with steamed veggies and it was good.

                  1. We go once in a while, I order my steaks "fire grilled" now, which means seasoned only with salt and pepper, since I find their house seasoning too salty. I can't remember ever getting a steak that was not perfectly cooked.
                    Last time we were there I had a "Wallabe-darned" which is their version of a peach bellini. It was a big 16oz glass of slushy deliciousness! :-D

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jujuthomas

                      I was with someone who ordered their steak black and blue and we were all shocked when that's just how it came. I was surprised a chain would take a chance with completely rare beef.

                    2. Well, I guess I need to go ahead and check them out. It's been about six years. Maybe they'll be less like cold gristly meat in Hell surrounded by kangaroo snot.

                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3369...

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                        My dc has been a few times over the last 2 yrs w/o me, and tells me he feels they aren't as good as when they first opened. He prefers the steaks at the Longhorn over Outback. I always ordered the lamb when I went. Any reports on that?

                        1. re: monkeyrotica

                          I love your description, it's right on - I always felt outback was the Red Lobster or olive garden of the steak world. I also tend to find that people who like those chains also like outback.

                          1. re: RetiredChef

                            Eh, if by "like" you mean "understands the cost/benefit/convenience/limitations of" well, sure, I "like" Outback lol. For me, the steak is unexpectedly tasty for the level of restaurant. :)

                            I don't tend to seek out chains in general; can't stand Red Lobster; has been prob 2 years since had any Olive Garden. Just sometimes a chain is a reasonable option -- Outback for us tends to occur on Sunday night (I've worked 12 hours, he's self-employed so works all weekend too), it's <5 miles away, we can meet for a drink and chat while they make our takeaway.

                            1. re: RetiredChef

                              I wouldn't be caught dead in an Olive Garden. Even the commercial look unappetizing. As for Red Lobster, I've been once. Awful? No, Completely average? Without a doubt. I believe Outback, as far as chains go, delivers a little higher standard.

                              1. re: RetiredChef

                                I hated Red Lobster and have never been to the others, but I used to really like Outback until the past several years... lower quality steaks, smaller salads, decline in service... just not worth it any longer. I was addicted to their garlicky Caesar dressing and fat, cooked properly to order sirloin, the Outback Special used to be a good deal, but not at today's quality. Bleah.

                            2. I actually ate at the Outback in Toms River NJ about two weeks ago……my parents “like” it there and they always have coupons so it was off to Outback we went. I have never been a big fan of theirs however I always found them to be tolerable…..but being a bit of a steak snob I never seek them out as a destination.

                              It’s been awhile since I have eaten at an Outback (probably since the last time my parents wanted to go there a year or so ago) but one thing I remember enjoying is the famous “blooming onion”. We ordered that as an appetizer (free with a coupon!! Lol ) well let me tell you something…..what we got was much smaller than I remember, from a nice sized grapefruit to a baseball size, and it was drenched in grease. So much so that after the second bite I knew I would pay for eating that much of a grease laden food I stopped eating it as not wanting to have heart burn later.

                              As previously stated I’m a bit of a steak snob….so I opted for the prime rib instead of a regular steak. The prime rib itself was good……cooked right and tender as a long slowly baked prime rib should be……but they say it’s “herb rubbed” but it came out with a very tex/mex type flavor not of any traditional salt/pepper/herb rub. It was a shame to me the most flavorful parts of the rib is the fatty exterior where all the flavors melt together….but instead this had a very non-prime rib flavor that really ruined the taste for
                              me. If it isn’t broke don’t try and fix it….KISS ( Keep It Simple Stupid).

                              That’s my annual voyage to Outback…hopefully I won’t be back again till next year.

                              1. I just went to the outback yesterday. It was the only landmark off the freeway i could remember. I had not been to one for years,but thought it would have standard chain food. I wanted happy hour in a dark "Old school" bar atmosphere. I was not disappointed! Service was great. The happy hour menu was wine at 4 bucks per glass, we had a large, fresh salad with chicken and veg, chicken wings with dip, and a burger for 5 bucks each item. It was worth 5 bucks each. So we both ate decent bar food, and had some cheap wine In a comfy environment for a really good value.

                                I tend to go to chain places like these (olive garden, red robin, boston pizza) and sit in the bar for the happy hour specials on a friday after work with a friend sometimes, rather than to go for a real "dinner out". I spend my dinner out money on nicer,more creative food. Honestly, It is hard to ruin standard bar food...and I just don't feel that chain restaurant meals are worth the cost .....and my time....due to the huge serving sizes and mediocre taste/quality. Or, then again....maybe I am just a lush :)