Joanne and Amy write:
If you're looking for a slow food experience, Outback Steakhouse, like any other family restaurant chain, is not the place to go. Unless you pretend you don't know what you want for an entree while you enjoy your starter. (We know. We've done this to delay the delivery of a steak when we're only three bites into a salad.) If, on the other hand, you're looking for a reasonably priced and consistently good steak, we would both recommend the "Outback Special." Since we gave another restaurant a chance to compete, we thought it only right to take our gradebooks to what we consider the standard against which we measured.
True to form I ordered an Outback special, and since I hadn't had steak in a while (2 weeks!), I decided to splurge on the 9 oz (medium, please) for $14.95. All dinners are served with a choice of two sides, and--as always--I chose to start with a house salad and have green beans to accompany my steak. Amy did the same, only she exercised some restraint and ordered a 6 oz. (medium rare) for $9.99. Oh, and since we were in the mood to take our time and a breath between courses, we did stall on ordering our steaks until we were eating bread and our salads.
The honey-wheat bread came out warm but not quite as toasty as I would have liked, and while I thought the butter was lacking its usual sweetness, Joanne didn't notice a difference. Perhaps I was being overly critical after grading exams like a madwoman in a rush to get grades in on time. The chilled salads were fresh and crisp with a mix of iceberg and romaine lettuce, cucumber chunks, sliced red onion, juicy--room temperature--grape tomatoes, crunchy cheese-flavored croutons, shredded cheddar and sharp chunky bleu cheese. In other words, they were a great meal starter.
Shortly after we devoured the salads, our entrees arrived. Both perfectly grilled steaks were accompanied by bright green, crisp, French-style green beans that had been tossed in a nutty-flavored butter. The steaks were cooked the way we had ordered them, were juicy and fork-tender, and had that delightful blend of seasonings for which Outback is known. Even the 6-oz. was satisfying, and neither Joanne nor I had room for dessert, although the new miniature-sized sampler sweets sounded tempting. For those not into red meat, there is a wide variety of other menu choices including seasonal specials, entree salads, and several chicken and fish dishes.
We were there on the early side of dinner, around 5, when only one bartender was on-- taking care of both bar customers and doing service bar for customers seated in the dining room. Because the restaurant was not particularly busy she managed just fine, but had there been more customers to serve and satisfy, we probably would have felt neglected. That is to say the service was good, not stellar, but certainly worth 20 percent.
The steak dinners at Outback really are a great value. In this economy the pomp and circumstance (and price tags) of high end steak houses may have to take a back seat to a good beef bargain. Whether high end is never your style, or you're watching your wallet, "going Outback" is sure to satisfy.