So I came home for the weekend and wound up joining my mom and two of her friends out to dinner. They were paying so I really couldn’t say much about where we decided to go. They picked Outback; I can’t say I was thrilled. The past few times I went there I didn’t love it. Now, I’m not very picky so I never have a terrible experience or ordered anything inedible. The Bloomin’ Onion (of course) is great and so is the Ahi Tuna appetizer. But as for entrees, I’ve never really left raving. Until last night.
It dawned on me that when it came to the Outback, I was breaking one of my cardinal rules of going out to eat: order what they specialize in. I’ve talked about this in previous posts – would you order a burger from a pizza place? No. A pizza from a Mexican restaurant? No. I had been going to a STEAKhouse, but not ordering steak! I prefer chicken over beef when it comes to most things, and fish over anything always. But I do enjoy a steak when it is cooked the way I like it (lean and well-done) so I decided that Outback was due for a redemption and it was only fair that I try the steak.
Sitting at the bar waiting for a table, I talked with the rest of my party about what type of steak I should order based on my preferences. Liking the leaner and less chewy cuts of meat, we decided on the NY strip steak, medium-well. When our (very attentive) server (John H) took our order, not only did he ask how we would like it to be cooked, he confirmed our preference by explaining what our steak would look like based on our preference.
John H: … and how would you like that cooked?
Me: Medium-well please.
John H: So a slightly pink center?
Me: Yes, exactly.
His descriptive confirmation left me feeling confident in the steak, and it’s always better to go in thinking it’s going to be great rather than thinking it’s going to stink. Good idea, John H. Your plan worked. I loved it! And so did my mom, who always orders steak still moo-ing. She asked for rare, but changed to medium-rare based on his descriptive confirmation…
John H: and how would you like that cooked?
Mom: Rare, please.
John H: That’s cooked on the outside, pink and slightly cold in the center.
Mom: Oh, no, not cold, medium-rare please.
…and she ranted and raved about how “perfectly cooked” it was – in fact, we all said that about our steaks…
My NY Strip was perfectly cooked and perfectly seasoned. It was nearly well-done, but like John said, slightly pink in the center and it wasn’t dry – a common problem with meat cooked on the well side. Part of the reason I hesitate to order steak out – not anymore! Not at Outback at least.
But not only was the steak good, everything was good! I followed a recommendation from my mom’s friend Alison and went with the chopped pecan salad. It was light, chilled (but not freezing cold) and delicious! It was topped with (what tasted like candied) pecans, crumbled blue cheese, purple cabbage, a little bit of shredded carrot and a light, slightly sweet dressing that tasted like a vinaigrette of some sort. I could eat an entree sized portion as my dinner. And so could my mom, she said. Which is saying a lot since salads, especially “gourmet” ones, aren’t her thing. In fact, she makes fun of me for it all the time. The point: the pecan salad is good. And you should try it.
The Bloomin’ Onion was great as always, it is their claim to fame, so of course it was. But the dip is what makes it. So if you run out, ask for more. The salad was great, and so was the steak. What was my other choice for a side, you ask? Sweet potato. One of my favorites. They ask if you want the cinnamon, sugar and all that, but I opted for just plain butter, salt and pepper. I’m sure either way is good, but the salad satisfied my sweet tooth so I had now switched over to wanting salty.
Speaking of sweet, I had one of the best (no exaggeration) alcoholic beverages I’ve ever had, their signature Black Cherry and Peach Mojito. It was light and refreshing, with the classic mojito taste and notes of black cherry and peach. It was still clear in color, so I’m thinking the fruit flavors came from fruit-flavored rum and/or liqueur. They were really tasty – I had a few. (It’s OK, I didn’t drive).
The whole meal was an absolute hit. I love having an open-mind (and mouth) when it comes to food because otherwise I would have opted not to go or would have had a negative outlook before even getting there. This whole “eat something new” idea, like I’ve mentioned before, doesn’t have to be entirely new food, restaurants, etc. Just change things up a little and see how it goes. This time it went great for me and I am thrilled! My aversion to the Outback is no longer, and I’m glad!