I rarely write about chain restaurants on this blog unless the experience is ultra positive (or negative). I had been sitting on a $100 gift card to Outback Steakhouse for the last six months and finally used it a couple of weeks ago. It must have been my first time there since I was a teenager despite living about five minutes away. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. Dare I say it, perhaps even impressed.
Myself, Justin, and my mom started out with the ubiquitous Bloomin’ Onion. This is an item that does nothing but instill feelings of loathing and self-hatred as our little group tore their way through this 2,000 calorie behemoth. Is there anyone who can actually eat this with a smile on their face? No, nothing but guilt can be felt. It was much saltier than I remember, but it got the job done. It was also a little on the well-done side, but I did not mind this as it meant it was extra crispy. This thing was made to be eaten with a cold beer…or two.
For my meal, I had the 9 ounce sirloin with grilled shrimp combo. The shrimp were average in flavor and portion. Kind of small and limp but well-seasoned. They came in a platter on top of what looked like a bruschetta. This was totally pointless. I would have rather they just put them on a skewer and laid them over my steak. But that’s just me. However, as for the steak, it was cooked to perfection. I asked for medium rare. Did not even need a knife to cut it. My mom had the same thing as I, only a smaller steak and the coconut shrimp. She’s not a big steak eater but loved it. Justin loved his Bloomin’ Burger. They too cooked it exactly how he asked (burned to the consistency of a hockey puck). It was massive. A large burger topped with bits of Bloomin’ Onion, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and sauce. It was a mess, but the right kind of sloppy you would want in such a burger.
All of that plus a wine for my mom, two Fosters for me, and two Budweisers for Justin, and it came to $96 (excluding tip). My mom’s wine came served in a little carafe that made it feel like she was having more than just one glass. I liked that feature. I have driven past this place for years. They are always packed. We waited a half hour which is unusual for any restaurant in this area which is usually dead by 8 PM. I feel guilty, but I really enjoyed it. Guess that’s why they always have droves of people hanging all over the place waiting for a table. Shall I give them a rating? How about 4 out of 5 stars. It was good enough to get me to change my view of chain steakhouses.
This Outback Steakhouse is located at 740 NJ-35 in Middletown, NJ.