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Outback Steakhouse Menu from 1997
In the 1990s, my family discovered the Outback Steakhouse. The first visit triggered a love affair with the chain. Looking at this old menu now triggers memories of huge portions and stomach aches.
When Outback Steakhouses landed in New Jersey, it landed hard. The first one I remember hearing about was in the mid-Nineties. My sister had gone to one and came back raving about how much fun it was. So the next time my family got together, we decided to take a trip there.
The first thing I noticed when we pulled into the parking lot was the line. People were standing in front of the door just milling around. I had been to many suburban chain restaurants in my days and I had never seen anything like this at one.
We gave our name and they gave us a vibrating beeper and we waited. For 40 minutes we stood there, my sister constantly reassuring us that the wait would be worth it. We persisted even though a number of quality fast-food restaurants were only moments away.
As soon as we sat down and I got my first giant mug of ice-cold Coke, I was smitten. I think we were there for two hours that night and we partook and shared at least half of the stuff on the menu. Driving home that night, my belly swollen, and my hands smelling of sweetly of the lavender soap they used at the time, I knew I would be back.
And go back I did, that first year at least once a month. Taking friends and family to feast in its spacious booths. It was by far my favorite chain restaurant. I loved the food and the dopey faux-Australian atmosphere.
Around this time I started picking up menus and bringing them home for some reason. I must have had a few dozen of them in a shoebox when I refound them around 2012 during a downsize. Instead of tossing them I posted them online and found a menu collector who was interested so I sent them to him media mail.
I thought they were all gone until a few months ago when I found this one from 1997. It’s a great menu that captures the look, feel, and prices of the Outback that I remembered.
My normal order with my family, when I was going BIG?
Start off we split Aussie Cheese Fries and a Bloomin’ Onion. Then I would get The Outback Special with a cup of Walkabout soup and a jacket potato.
When I first saw their buttered jacket potato, I thought, “Wow, that is a lot of butter.” By my third visit, it didn’t seem like enough butter. Which demonstrated perfectly how restaurants like Outback warp my senses.
When I wasn’t feeling like a steak I would eat the Alice Springs Chicken. I love that it starts off sounding reasonable on the menu. “Oh, a grilled chicken breast how healthy!” What food is not vastly improved by the addition of bacon smothered in mushroom and melted cheese?
I would wash down this mega-feast with too many Coca-Colas to count. The server would soon learn it was just easier to bring more than one at a time.
Then to top it off, a Chocolate Thunder from Down Under. Now my sisters would act like they didn’t want dessert, but they did and would constantly want to “taste” mine. So I had to defend this thing from all sides.
I haven’t been to an Outback in a long time, but I think it might be time to revisit and see how much things have changed.