I Took An Australian To Outback Steakhouse
A couple of years ago my aunt and uncle came to visit from Australia. We thought it would be funny to take them to Outback Steakhouse. But crikey! The joke was on us.
My uncle--a retired sheep rancher who can still shear a ewe in the time it would take me to take off a turtleneck sweater--actually loved it.
He was tickled at the mishmash of Australian jargon used on the menu, the boomerangs on the wall, and the kangaroos in the logo. We even took a picture of him in front of the Outback sign so that he could show his friends back home.
Even more surprising, he actually enjoyed the food. And, you know what? So did we.
Outback Steakhouse, which is more Florida Gator than Crocodile Dundee (it started in Tampa), is, to put it plainly, a well-managed restaurant. And since that day we took him, we've actually gone back many times. We've now grown a soft spot for it ourselves.
The complimentary brown loaf of bread is always hot and good. The steaks are decent, the crab stack appetizer is immaculate, and the soups are hearty (if a little oversalted). And yes, I can even occasionally tolerate the Bloomin' Onion, or at least I can until I realize I'm slowly killing myself by eating it.
But more than anything, what we like most about Outback is that its servers, especially those at the Irvine branch, are not just attentive, but also remarkably chummy and cheerful. They are friendlier and more welcoming than most of the servers I encounter at a lot of the independent, non-chain eateries I frequent as a food critic.
And every time we go to Outback, it always reminds me of that time we took Uncle Robert, a man I consider more Australian than Paul Hogan and Steve Irwin combined. I still remember what he said when we asked him what he thought about the place. He said, "It's noice!"
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