My sound receptors immediately perk up when they hear the phrase "bone-in ribeye", and they have been hearing that phrase a lot on the "teevee" of late. Outback Steakhouse has been running ads for a limited time special, the butcher cuts. These include a bone-in pork porterhouse, ribeye, and New York strip.
Cooking any of those cuts bone-in can only enhance the flavor, and I knew I just had to have that ribeye. So last night the Belle of Ballast Point and I climbed into the pouch of the family wallaby and hopped off to the Outback on Henderson Boulevard in Tampa.
We were greeted at the door and escorted to our requested booth. Soon, Ashley, our server for the evening appeared with menus and gave us a few minutes to decide on our drink orders. To wet our whistles after that long hop from SOG City, we decided to indulge in a couple of Old Fashioned cocktails. We decided on the old Old Fashioned as opposed to the new Old Fashioned. Yes, both are on the Outback menu.
The difference in these Old Fashioned cocktails is the old one is made with Makers Mark and the new one with Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey.
One of a mere two glitches in our Outback experience was our drinks. They were made with the Jack Daniels instead of the requested Makers Mark. The drinks were good, just not what we asked for. We did the only sensible thing we could do...we drank them anyway. Waste not, want not is our motto.
While we were sipping our cocktails, Ashley brought our included house salads and the loaf of bread for which Outback is known.
I am including this picture not so much for the salad or bread, which is really good, but for that tub of creamery butter shown in the lower right side of the photo. I shall now be tacky and point out that this is a far cry from the rock hard, foil wrapped pats of butter we were served at Malio's Prime in downtown Tampa. I still shake my head in wonderment and disappointment at that memory.
After a couple of weeks seeing that Outback commercial, I knew that I wanted the bone-in ribeye, but the menu didn't indicate the portion size. Ashley checked with the kitchen and they advised it was indeed 16 ounces. Well then, bring-er on and make it medium rare. The kitchen also tossed my steak on the wood fired grill for a minute or two to add more delicious char to the outside. That ribeye was a tender, juicy hunk of perfectly prepared goodness.
I keep hearing and reading negative comments about "chain" restaurants, but this is the second "chain" ribeye I have enjoyed (the first was at Longhorn on South Dale Mabry) that was so far superior to the $47 Malio's ribeye that was so tough and devoid of flavor that I couldn't even force myself to eat it. The $47 bone-in ribeye at Eddie V's a few weeks later still couldn't compare with Longhorn and Outback. And, how much was that Outback ribeye? How about $29! I think that was the same price as the Longhorn steak.
What's up with these high priced and pretentious steakhouses? Have they brainwashed the dining public into believing the higher the price, the better the quality? It certainly appears that is the case.
My bride suffered the only other glitch in our dining experience at Outback. Her 6 ounce filet, while so very tender and juicy, was prepared medium rare as opposed to the requested medium. She let that slide since filets can tolerate a little less cooking time. Still, the customer should get what they ask for.
That loaded baked potato might have made up for the under-cooked steak. The Belle was in full swoon mode over that spud. She commented that you don't see baked taters being offered that much any more, and even then, rarely as good as this one.
To accompany our steaks, we chose a delightful bottle of Argentine Alamos Malbec.
When I was presented with the check, I asked my bride how much she thought this meal with wine and cocktails was going to set us back. She proffered a guess of $150. Nay, nay, my lovely lady, says I, our bill is but a pittance, $90.40. Of course, we tacked on 20% for Ashley.
How about that! Less than $100 (before tip) instead of the $200 to $300 that we have shelled out at a few of Tampa's magniloquent steak joints. I'm good with that.