But folks you can’t beat that Bloomin’ Onion in even the swankiest of steak joints. A review of a recent eating experience at Outback tells it all.
Guest Writer Michelle writes of a Close Encounter of the Cutest Kind.
She gave up a stint on Oprah for the experience but us readers we learn the entire story as it really came down.
Pic of the Day
Outback, the True Story of This Walmart of Steak Joints
Husband made the choice of restaurant for the night and he chose Outback Steak House.
Not that he didn’t have a plethora of eatery choices, goodness, what with us living in a resort area and plenty of steak houses all about.
The choice was fine with me as a)like I say, it was HIS choice and what sort of bad sport would I be to complain about his birthday desire? And b)hey, I like Outback, at least I did on the few prior occasions that had me as a patron of the steak chain.
WEB SITE FOR OUTBACK
Seems to me one can get a right decent steak item, a potato of some sort, perhaps a salad and a roll, at Outback, and for a reasonable price.
Outback has taken the same route as so many restaurants today, which is to charge for a side salad and many side orders. The times are tough, so the saying goes, and by making those items that were once normally part of the dinner a la carte, the restaurant can pull in more cash without actually raising the price of the meals.
It’s a bit of a scam is what I’m saying here but I’ll allow that an argument can be made that there was waste in giving to salads to non-salad folks and a basket of rolls often went to waste.
In many of the meals offered on the Outback menu, a side potato of some sort was included in the price of the dinner and all meals came with a small loaf type thing of warm whole wheat bread. It was good bread as most warm breads are but I prefer the white stuff, yeah, all that gluten, filled with warm sweet-smelling yeast.
Most steak houses offer battered fried onions in some form and fashion. Husband is a big fan of these things although he’ll run screaming from any meal I’d dare serve him at home containing any sort of onion stuff.
We’ve had huge fried onion ring things, onion loaf devices, round things that pretended to have onions within but were mostly fried breadcrumbs. Nothing compares to Outback’s “Blooming Onion”, nothing, not anywhere, not anyhow.
Outback sure has a winner with this menu entrée. All tables around me held a platter of this Blooming Onion thing, shared by the patrons around the table, all dipping and talking and enjoying this splendid appetizer. The dip served with the Blooming Onion is as good as the appetizer itself.
A Blooming onion is an onion cut with some sort of geometrically even device that creates a round onion flower, all the onion “petals” easy to pull from the main onion body. The thing presents quite nicely. The entire onion bloom is dipped into some sort of batter and fried; fried very nicely in fact.
The Blooming Onion won’t make your arteries any softer but it’s not dripping with grease. There’s a pleasant crunchiness to the onion petals and the grease does not overwhelm or distract from the mild onion taste.
One of the biggest surprises of our meal was something called “Walkabout Soup”. Another pleasant surprise, a cup of the stuff was included in my husband’s dinner. Since this is a man who hates to eat with a soup spoon, he told me to order what I wanted as he would eschew the soup.
I don’t know why it’s called “Walkabout Soup” but this is allegedly an Austrailian restaurant chain and those Aussies tend to have cute nicknames for everything. It’s really a “soup du jour” and that evening it was a splendid Cream of Potato Soup.
The soup was delicious in fact, a real surprise. The soup’s cream base was only slightly thickened, not the library paste so many restaurants like to add vegetables to and call soup. There were some green onions sprinkled within, some perfectly cooked potato cubes and it had a pleasant mild spicy taste to it.
Husband had, what else, a New York strip steak. I had a special dinner, one of many featured on the Outback menu.
These specials usually include two main items, smaller portions of each to be sure. Mine was a few slices of something called “tenderloin steak” served alongside a small platter of stuffed shrimp, costing $15.99.
I found the shrimp to be overwhelmed with, well it wasn’t butter, in the true sense of the word. It was that stuff restaurants serve with fish that looks like, and almost tastes like, butter. The shrimp were good, however, nice and tender, a good size. If they’d stop serving them swimming in that oily stuff they’d be a real hit.
The “tenderloin” that came with my meal was, again, not real beef. Like the meat didn’t real come from the hind-quarters of the cow. This tenderloin was some sort of meat that is somehow “re-processed”…somehow ground up and re-formed to look like a slice of a real loin of a cow.
It tasted okay, really, but I wasn’t fooled.
Husband’s steak was real, however. He pronounced it a bit “chewy”, a description he gives to many food items since he had all his top teeth pulled and replaced with dentures. Not that his dentures don’t work fine but hey, they’re not real teeth I must suppose.
I had a bit of that NY strip and thought it was of the right amount of “chewiness”, this was real teeth though my teeth aren’t top notch either.
I had one drink at the Outback, what with husband driving and myself seldom indulging in any sort of alcohol type of drink. Wow. The drinks at the Outback like to kill.
I had to search the entire menu to find one under eight bucks and this was some sort of specialty drink that cost $4.99. It was a good drink and I’d buy it again. But I can afford one. The Outback Steak House is not the place to enjoy a leisurely meal preceeded by a few fine drinks to make us mellow.
Our bill, with a generous tip, came to $69.00. While this isn’t cheap by any means, I’d challenge the meal, drink, warm bread, good meat, fabulous blooming onion and soup, is as good as that purchased at a more expensive steak joint.
Go for a nice meal and, if for no other reason, that Blooming Onion.
My First Contact
copyright 2009 Michelle Hakala
When the pulsing glow settled to the ground and faded in front of my car that night, it was hard to tell who was more surprised, me or it.
I wasn't in the mood for little green men from Mars, and while I know my first reaction should have been awe or surprise, what actually came out of my mouth was, "Oh, shit." I was dismayed at the interruption, and knew that no matter what that light was, it boded ill for my relaxing evening. I resented the intrusion.
Reluctantly I pulled up to a stop and waited. I didn't want to be the one who ran over our first visitors from space, but I really didn't want to be the one to greet them, either. News opportunities and a spot on Oprah? Not my cup of tea. I clutched the steering wheel and fumed.
It brought a whole new meaning to "road rage," but I could see no way around it. The stupid thing had landed in front of my Honda and there was no one else in sight on the deserted country lane. I sighed and turned the engine off, leaving the headlights on so I could see. If I was to be light-rayed to death tonight, I at least wanted to see it coming.
In a depression of the road (which admittedly may have already been there before and not caused by the little spaceship's landing) sat the cutest little spaceship I'd ever seen. Okay, so I've not seen so many of them, but hey, I watch television. The craft . . . well, I hoped it was a craft and not the actual being itself. After all, I'd seen "Batteries Not Included," too. The craft lay still and dark. From what I could tell in the beams of my headlights it was about three feet across. The wings - they looked like wings - swooped backward away from me, and made up a large portion of the surface of the craft. It didn't match anything I'd seen, and I certainly wasn't going to believe some idiot authority if they told me I'd seen a "weather balloon."
As I stood there assessing the vehicle, it quivered. Now, I'm not making this up. The only word I can put to the motion the craft made was a quiver. You've maybe seen the way a horse twitches when a fly lands on it? Just like that, the craft quivered. I made a quick recalculation about whether the craft might be the actual being. I didn't think metal or plastic could move that way.
Of course, this likely wasn't anything man-made, right?
With a bigger shudder, the craft rose a bit, out of the hole. I could see then that the pothole had probably already been there. Maybe it was a bit bigger now, but the bottom was full of something wet and slushy, leftover from the rain a couple days ago. If the hole hadn't been there, the craft's creation of it wouldn't have filled it with any type of liquid. Would it? I couldn't be certain of anything, could I? Maybe the poor thing wet its pants on landing in front of my mean and nasty Honda.
I sighed. It was an involuntary reflex to my thoughts, but the craft *heard* me. It reacted violently, attempting to rise further. Something made a "ping!" noise and the thing crashed into the pothole
Suddenly I felt bad for it. Here I thought it was messing up *my* day and the thing was terrified. I was pretty big, and I'd been vomited out of my car, so what must this alien think I was? I couldn't imagine what I'd be thinking if I were in similar circumstances. What to do? I couldn't coddle it; it would no more understand that than it did my getting out of the car.
I couldn't teach it music or numbers, either, like I saw in several other first contact-y movies. I could tell what it wanted was to get away from me, and since it hadn't vaporized me where I stood it must not have any weapons, either. Or at least none that worked on me. Maybe it had tried! How would I know, if there was no effect?
So. It wanted - needed - to get away. Back to the mothership, over to Europe, phone home, whatever. I wanted to go home and continue my plans for a relaxing night. Maybe I could still avoid Oprah. What could the thing need to leave?
I ticked off everything I knew about alien lifeforms. It could need fuel. It could need nourishment. Maybe the craft needed repair. But how was I to know which or what when I couldn't communicate with it?
As I stood there pondering my options (none that I could see), the craft rose again. Just a bit, enough for me to see the pothole again. This time, there was no glitter of moisture in the headlight beams. But moments ago the hole was wet! Where'd the water go?
You don't have to hit me over the head with a broomstick twice. The thing might only need water to get home. Or to Europe. Whatever. If I gave it water, it might go away, and it might know in the giving that I was harmless, even if it still didn't know I wasn't Honda puke.
I rushed to the trunk of my car, where I had a gallon of water stashed for just this sort of emergency. Well, maybe not *this* sort of emergency, but for emergencies, anyway. This qualified. I got the gallon and opened it.
Now what? Splash it over the thing? I got a quick image of salt shakers and birds' tails. I didn't want to ground it! Okay, so it was sucking the liquid out of the pothole. Maybe I could add to what had already been there. If I could get close enough. If it didn't think I was trying to drown it. Hell, it could be aquatic, for all I knew. A space waterbug, looking for a big swimming pool. I sloshed the water around in the jug as I walked slowly toward the thing.
It didn't move, and I took that for a good sign. Trouble was, I couldn't pour the water into the hole if the thing was lodged in it. Maybe I could make that understood. I dribbled just a little water on
the edge of one wing and was rewarded with a quiver. I dribbled a bit more and the wing . . . folded in. It just went into the side of the thing and I couldn't see it anymore. The other wing remained thrust out. Perhaps the hidden wing was simply folded against the body, like a bird does. In the lighting, I couldn't be sure. Regardless, I now had access to a corner of the hole. I poured the water in, careful to get all of it in the hole.
The jug was empty, and I backed away. The wing came back out, covering the hole. I waited, both of us motionless. Underneath, I hoped it was getting rid of the water. I heard nothing, though. Surely I'd hear gurgling or something?
Ping! The craft shot up out of the hole, hovered about eye level, and flashed some lights as the pulsing glow I'd originally seen resumed. I swear I heard the musical tones from "Close Encounters," but I think it was my imagination. The craft darted away, leaving me standing
alongside Honda headlight beams illuminating an empty - and dry - pothole. I sighed, put the gallon jug in my trunk and got back in my car.
For the briefest of moments, I mourned the passing of the Oprah opportunity. Well, yes, I did. But as I say, it was the briefest of moments. Gone as quickly as it came, and I sighed again in relief as I started my car.
TO EMAIL MICHELLE
A Brain Infection? A Medical Journey Surpassed by Few
A Medical Odyssey to a Quadruple Heart Bypass
To My Townhall Blog
My Twitter Page, I post all Blog posts there with the link
My Face Book Page