This week, Outback Steakhouse launched a new menu, featuring 15 meals under $15. Jersey Bites was lucky enough to get invited to join an intimate group of food bloggers at a tasting in Manhattan of some of their new menu items with Tim Gannon, co-founder and head chef of Outback Steakhouse.
Tim explained that Outback began working on this new menu a year ago as a result of hearing from customers that Outback had become a “special occasion destination.” As over 75% of their entrees had crept up over $15, they recognized that a major redesign was in order. The new menu, created in partnership with major chefs from around the world like Roy Yamaguchi is designed to bring affordability back but still with the fresh ingredients and high quality food we expect from Outback. Gannon summed up the new vision by saying, “We want to be the any night restaurant. The place you go to before the movie theater, the restaurant that teenagers love to come to. It’s all about having come back flavor.”
My first question to Tim was whether they had held on to the Bloomin’ Onion, their signature appetizer. Gannon reassured us that this incredibly popular item was not going anywhere. Waitresses magically appeared carrying the item of discussion for us to taste and Gannon’s right hand man demonstrated how they are made. He first produced the largest onion I’ve ever seen (Bloomin’ Onions are grown specifically for Outback in Idaho and Oregon and each onion must weigh at least a pound to make the cut). He cut off the head and placed it a machine designed specially for Outback. They lovingly refer to the device as Gloria, thank you in Latin, as it is incredibly time consuming to cut the onions by hand. We were unable to tease the recipe for the Bloomin’ Onion and its addictive sauce out of Gannon, but he did reveal that it must be fried at precisely 350 degrees and that it contains over 17 spices.
We tasted one incredible dish after another full of the bold flavors Outback is known for. Many of the new dishes seemed to have come about by reinventing expensive ingredients and offering combination plates to let diners share and experience more flavors. Filet mignon is now served as a sliced beef tenderloin roast paired with crab stuffed shrimp and the pork chops have become sweet glazed pork tenderloin served sliced with mashed potatoes and green beans. Both dishes were amazing and under $15. We also tried a tender New York strip steak served sliced with a brandy cream sauce with the perfect amount of pepper. The steak Outback is known for, the sirloin, is now the Atkins dieter’s dream as it is served with a blue cheese iceberg wedge, also under $15.
Our feast ended with dessert, a trio of brownie sundae, creamy peanut butter pie, and classic cheesecake. While all three were very good, the peanut butter pie was out of this world. It was light and fluffy with a pleasant crunch and was served on a bed of dark chocolate. I tasted the other two, but greedily scarfed down every bite of the peanut butter pie.
Outback’s new menu began rolling out nationwide on February 18.
To celebrate the launch of their new menu, Outback Steakhouse has graciously given Jersey Bites a $25 gift card to give away to one lucky reader. Check back this Wednesday for the Win It Wednesday sponsored by Outback Steakhouse.
Vanessa Druckman aka Chefdruck, is our North Jersey contributor. Chefdruck is not a chef, as her online name suggests, just a huge food aficionado. She loves to cook and to eat out, and then to write about her experiences. Vanessa is a transplant from the big city. She is half-French and spent a big part of her childhood in France, so as a result, there’s no fear of cream and butter for Chefdruck. Read more from Vanessa at: http://www.chefdruck.blogspot.com/http://www.chefdruckwrites.blogspot.com/