Sunday, August 18, 2013

Outback Steakhouse Food Review

Sirloin & Coconut Shrimp with two sides at Outback Steakhouse

I'm actually surprised at how long it's taken to review one of my favorite places to eat... Outback Steakhouse. I try not to play favorites; but my latest visit has me wondering if it's time to reexamine my love affair with the once-great Outback?

For the longest time, Outback was my "go-to" dining spot. Between downtown Bethesda (since gone, never replaced) and Arlington (near the Iwo Jima Memorial,) you could count on my visiting at least twice a month... often more. I'd order the same thing every time... two appetizers, Coconut Shrimp and Kookaburra Wings (hot) and plenty of bread. Last night, my friends and I stopped by the Aspen Hill location on Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring: I decided to bend my rules, and go with the flow.

Going with the flow meant sharing two appetizers, a Bloomin Onion and an order of Wings (no longer called Kookaburra... just plain ol' wings.) The Bloomin Onion (free and "on the house," courtesy of a coupon) looked smaller than in years past; but still packed a mean 1959 calories and 161 grams of total fat. Needless to say, it was delicious. The wings were far from spicy, but great-tasting all the same. Two loaves of honey wheat bread (paired with honey butter) filled in whatever holes remained in our collective appetites.

Bloomin Onion

One to thing to consider when ordering appetizers (especially good ones) you may not have room for anything else. Unfortunately, three wings, almost half a Bloomin Onion and a mini loaf of bread had me at the breaking point pre-entree.

Wings - still the best in town

Speaking of entrees, our table ordered three Outback Specials; but none came close to matching the sheer volume of food found in my Sirloin & Choice of Shrimp with two sides. That's especially surprising, considering mine cost as little ($13.99) as everyone else's, and less than one. My 6 oz. sirloin steak was thick and juicy, not to mention perfectly cooked (MEDIUM.) The crowded plate also contained four large coconut shrimp with Outback's own Creole marmalade (not my favorite sauce here) that were delicious as always. Two sides (Aussie Fries and Seasoned Rice) were overkill and not all that tasty: I barely finished a few bites from each.

As always, Outback was packed. We "called ahead" and while not guaranteed reservations, walked right in and were led to a table for four in the back... much to the chagrin of the envious few waiting for a precious spot inside. Great feature, and one I'll be sure to remember next time (thanks Deb!) Our server was extra efficient, and outside of an underdone steak (quickly rectified with a new one, complete with another hot, baked potato) service was terrific. Best of all, I didn't have to pay one red cent for any of it, thanks to a most generous extended family.

That said, I'd be lying if I told you I didn't miss the magic normally associated with dinner at Outback. For the first time in forever, I didn't ask for a bread to go; and I wasn't praising the Outback gods as we left the restaurant. Don't get me wrong: We had a nice dinner... but expectations are a little higher when dining in culinary Heaven.