August 9th, 2013 by Brian Schwartz – Comments (2)
You can get an $11 steak dinner at Outback Steakhouse. That includes a huge baked potato and a nice big salad too. No it isn’t Prhyme. It isn’t even Prime. But it IS aged USDA Choice sirloin, surprisingly good, and it IS eleven dollars. (This is new. Go back five years or more and the cheapest steak was $13.) If it’s a special occasion, or if money’s no concern, head for Prhyme. I don’t think you’ll find a finer steak anywhere, or more elegant ambiance or service. But if you need your date to come in under $30 because you sweated half a day to get that $30 and you still want to treat your sweetie right, consider Outback. Yes, if your date is one of the posh high-society snobs the Marx Brothers used to love to make fun of (in their films the snob was always played by the legendary Margaret Dumont), she won’t be too impressed. Still, it’s a nice setting.
Yes it’s a chain. Over at Juniper, the chefs hold weekly brainstorming sessions. Recipes are created and whole new menus written. Creativity and excellence are paramount. At chains, as in communist Russia, recipes, menus and rules of behavior are created at the headquarters of the central bureaucracy, and not by artists either but by bureaucrats sensitive to cost and to what they can sell. Still, Outback does value excellence — and no, it is NOT run, as I feared it was, like “Catch-22″ (which I just finished reading and which is one of the best novels I’ve ever read) — and when I complimented the hostess on the steaks her eyes shone as if she had cooked them herself. It’s easy to think of chain employees as fungible but they are not, not at all, and if you need to be reminded they are real people, check out this blog. http://kylagaffney.wordpress.com The service, in fact, is excellent. Remember flair? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5YClmS3umk Three years ago Outback was big on flair, and all the servers wore it. Now the waitresses don’t know what it is. They thought I was talking about bell-bottomed flared trousers. And then came the salad.
Outback salads are about the best side salads I know, except for Mondo’s. Lots of blue cheese in their blue cheese dressing. If the salad is not enough, there’s always bread.
Freshly baked, dramatically served, and as much as you can eat. It’s a soft brown bread, not chewy, and I like it. But we came for steak and that’s what we got.
That’s the $11 steak, a six ounce sirloin. It has great flavor and the baked potato was delicious too. If you don’t want that potato, you can choose any other side, including vegetables, rice, sweet potato or French fries, which needless to say are called Aussie Fries. If the $11 is a bit too much, you can get the same steak for $10, but it comes with a set topping and one side.
Cathe got it with blooming onion on top. She could have chosen a marsala and wild mushroom sauce or a pepper cream sauce. The plate looks bare because she opted for a salad. It usually is served with Aussie fries.
I decided to splurge. I got the 10 ounce ribeye for $17.29.
It was delicious. Like the $11 sirloin it is aged USDA choice (aged for 21 days, according to a sign, and doubtless wet-aged). I asked them to go easy on their seasoning, which the menu correctly describes as “bold” (i.e. overpowering), and the flavor of the meat was dominant. It was cooked exactly the way I like it, very rare and the flavor was great. I liked it better than the $35 steak at Molly’s Landing, which was a fine steak indeed. It was big and we were too full for dessert. On my last visit to Outback three years ago we had the “Sweet Adventure Sampler Trio” dessert (now $8.79).
I hope to go back to Outback a lot more often now.
4723 S Yale (there are other locations also, such as 71st Street)
open more or less from 4 PM to 10 PM everyday, later on weekends, opens early (11:30 AM) Sunday)
Brian Schwartz: Author
Born in NYC, age 0, on my birthday. College in Oxford at age 16. Law School in New Haven, Conn. 6 years travel in Africa and Asia. Haven’t done much lately. Still, I’m the only Tulsa member of the little-known Omega Society. www.theomegasociety.com
I speak enough Chinese to order food not on any English menu. Spanish French Italian too (not fluently but food-ently) My favorite restaurant is Jean-Georges in New York. But those NYC chefs would sell their soul to get the produce available from the farms around Inola.
“A writer writes alone. His words tumble forth from a magical inner void that is mysterious even to himself, and that no one else can enter.” And yet, the most important thing to me the writer is YOU. Without you to hear them, my words are worth less than silence.