Monday, January 11, 2010

Outback Steakhouse

666 Everywhere St
Everywhere, USA, 66666

Let me start off by announcing to all the “food blogging ethics” Nazis that my brother owns this particular Outback Steakhouse, which is located somewhere in Louisiana but of course I won’t say exactly where. Rest assured I won’t go easy on him; I’m going to issue many literary noogies to Outback’s food just like I’ve given ACTUAL noogies to the brother who owns this fucking place. After all, I hold my friends and family to a higher standard than my enemies. My enemies can go fuck your mom for all I care. Oh wait: they already did!

Everyone knows about Outback Steakhouse, and don’t pretend that you don’t, you pretentious motherfucks. There’s a bunch of varnished blonde wood inside and lots of fake “Australian” crap, like boomerangs and “Kangaroo Crossing” signs, on the walls everywhere. They give you gigantic Crocodile Dundee- style steak knives and the waiters wear shirts with epaulets, as if that’s more “Australian” somehow than a regular shirt. Maybe they need the epaulets to hold the rope they use to lasso the kangaroos for the freshly butchered kangaroo meat that Outback sells. Or maybe those epaulets are the only thing holding the waiters’ dignity in place when they have to collect the $2.19 tip from a party of 12 that Outback’s hillbilly clientele typically leave them.

The worst thing about Outback (surprisingly it’s NOT the food) is the customers. All of the dudes seem to have goatees which follow a peculiar natural law: the bigger the overhang on the dude’s beer gut, the bushier his goatee, so that the very fattest of Outback’s gentleman patrons appear to have gigantic pubic thickets from a 1970’s Playboy issue sprouting from their chins. All of the women dining at Outback look like they will eventually appear in amateur bukakke videos. And according to my brother, they’re scam artists, one and all. He can’t count the number of times customers have “found” glass in their food. You’d think that shattered glass is a garnish at Outback. And a couple douchebags once found a ladybug in their salad and claimed they were so embarrassed by the experience that only $500 in Outback gift cards could salve their wounded egos. Honestly I don’t know what’s worse: Outback’s hokey Australian minstrel show or the classless fucks who patronize the place. Or maybe they deserve one another: garbage in, garbage out.

But I digress. As much as I would love to further expound upon the plebians who jam- pack their lard asses into Outback’s varnished wooden booths, this is, after all, a food blog and not a symposium on regional varieties of rednecks. So I should get around, I suppose, to the food. It isn’t as bad as you might think: the sweet glazed roasted pork loin ($10.95) was a half a tenderloin, sliced into medallions and presented with garlic mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables. ”Prepare to be impressed!” proclaims the menu. They obviously mistook me for one of the ubiquitous infomercial ladies who can’t believe how EASY or CONVENIENT or SPACE SAVING the product in the infomercial is because I’m not that easily impressed. I will admit that I was surprised by how perfectly cooked the loin was: succulent and juicy, cooked to a rosy medium, with a flavorful seasoned exterior crust. Alas, Outback couldn’t leave well enough alone, because the pork loin was dribbled in an obnoxious pink sauce that seemed like it came from one of those packets of sweet- and- sour sauce you get when you buy shitty egg rolls from Panda Express. Embedded in the sticky sauce were tiny crispy shards of something I couldn’t identify but which, according to my brother, were corn flakes sautéed in butter. What. The. Fuck. The garlic mashed potatoes were very garlicky but had the consistency of stucco. The vegetables, a boilerplate mix of broccoli and carrots, were crisp and tasty and fresh- tasting and perhaps best of all, they didn’t feel the need to drench these in 20 gallons of melted butter or whatever the fuck.

The crab stuffed shrimp ($4.95) was okay. For that price you got four large shrimp tails, butterflied and piled with a gloopy mixture of crab meat, some variety of melted cheese, and breadcrumbs. The shrimp weren’t overcooked at least and still had a pleasant little snap to them. This dish would have been better if the shrimp weren’t floating in a ½” deep moat of melted butter: salty, salty, salted butter. This butter sauce is okay if you dip a piece of Outback’s vaunted bread (vaunted by hillbillies anyway), which comes in smooth, chocolatey brown oblong loaves and is delivered to your table by the waitress with one of their Crocodile Dundee steak knives protruding murderously from it.

I was disappointed by the fresh tilapia with pure lump crabmeat ($14.95), but only because the oddly straightforward name of this dish has none of the descriptive flair of the rest of Outback’s menu. I think it would have tasted better if they called this dish “Mel Gibson’s Holocaust- Denyingly Delicious Fish.” That’s because you’d need an asshole- puckering name like that to make Tilapia interesting. Yes, the fish was tender and flaky, and you got a gargantuan portion of it, topped with a gigantic avalanche of shredded blue crabmeat in an otherwise inoffensive white wine and butter sauce, but Tilapia is so fucking lame. Still, it was otherwise tasty. This was probably the best thing I ate at Outback. It came with a side of steamed green beans which were still a little crisp inside and shockingly green.

A cup of potato soup was served in what I would call more of a “cauldron” than a cup, and at $2.95 cost next to nothing. Chunks of tender potato floated in a creamy broth, laced through with strings of melted cheddar, chunks of bacon, and diced scallion. This was pretty good, but it was more like a baked potato that had been eaten by a pelican then regurgitated to feed its young than a soup.

The Victoria’s filet with lobster ($26.95) was served in the classic surf- n- turf configuration. The only weird thing about this dish was the fact that my spell checking software, in a weird postmodern quirk, is not offended by “surf- n- turf.” This culinary menagerie featured a really large filet mignon and three lobster tail halves. Honestly, if you’re into filet mignon, the Bryant Gumbel of beef, you can’t go wrong, not even at Outback. The filet was gigantic and tender and had a nicely seasoned caramelized crust. The lobster tails, on the other hand, weren’t quite as tasty: too salty and a bit leathery and accompanied by a ramekin of Outback’s extra salty salted butter for dipping. You can choose your potato configuration: baked potato, fries, or garlic mashed. I chose a baked potato which was basically the potato soup, before it was partially digested by the aforementioned pelican. The flesh of the potato was fluffy, the skin was salted, and it came with a twin scoop of whipped butter (which stared up at you from the perforated potato skin like a pair of buttery breasts), green onions, bacon bits, and cheddar cheese and was otherwise a fully realized example of a potato which has been baked then slathered with shitloads of stuff.

Outback Steakhouse is definitely okay. It’s the kind of place that’s usually pretty reliable if you’re stuck in some shithole in the hinterlands on business, or if your car broke down, or if you’re hoarding guns nearby and you need a break from hoarding guns because you’re getting hungry then by all means go to Outback. But only if your brother owns it and you don't have to pay a goddamned dime. And for the love of christ tip your waiter you redneck shitheads.

Rating: 5 angry phone calls from my mom out of 10

Outback Steakhouse (Westlake) on Urbanspoon

PS Outback puts so much butter in and on every dish, that if you could somehow scavenge all of the butter out of a typical three course meal, you’d have enough to sculpt a life- size sex doll entirely out of butter. And that would be pretty awesome.

Friday, January 08, 2010


Marination is a taco truck with a twist: when I heard that Marination sold “Korean tacos” I became enraged. That’s because I hate fusion. If you like Mexican pizza, or Thai pizza, or pizza with corn on it, or pizza with broccoli on it, or Southwestern egg rolls, or Japanese French food, or French Japanese food, or anything that Wolfgang Puck cooks, you’ll LOVE Korean tacos! That’s what I thought, anyway, because I’m a total dick and I hate anything new. It’s totally true. I love Saint Chapelle because it’s old; I hate the Weezer Snuggie because it’s new. I love the ancient Norse gods because they’re old; I hate Scientology because it’s new (and because who do you think would win in an arm wrestling match: Thor or Tom Cruise?). Yet in the true scientific spirit I vowed to empirically test Marination’s wares. So one Saturday, when I knew that they’d be slumming along 35th Ave SW, I decided to check these motherfuckers out for myself.

The Kalua Kimchee Quesedilla ($5) had pulled roasted pork shoulder and kim chee, glued together with cheese on a grilled flour tortilla. The pork was finely shredded and the kim chee, despite the fact that I generally despise its spicy farty smell, did a good job of countering the quesedilla’s cheesy dripiness with its tangy crunch. The tortilla was pleasantly charred and crunchy and was topped with those drab army- green pickled jalapeno slices and a pink spicy sauce which I’m guessing was a mixture of Sriracha and sour cream. The “Kalua” in the name refers to the pork and not the coffee liqeur favored by sorority girls from 20 years ago and protagonists of The Big Lebowski.

At $6.50, the Ala Moana Melt was the single most expensive menu item. It’s a perfectly serviceable grilled cheese sandwich with the same pulled pork used in the quesadilla,plus melted gouda cheese and more of the spicy pink sauce, sandwiched between thick slices of coarse chewy bread. It’s basically the same as the quesadilla except with different cheese, no kim chee, and bread instead of the tortilla, so if you want for whatever reason to save $1.50 go for the quesadilla instead. After all, that extra $1.50 you saved can go a long way with your mom.

Kimchee fried rice ($5) came in one of those iconic red and white paper Chinese food containers that no Chinese restaurants actually use anymore. When you first open the box a fried egg stares up at you from atop a big pile of rice, garnished with scallion curlicues. The rice was rather bland, although it was stained a fiery reddish- orange and it LOOKED like it would be really spicy. There was lots of kim chee, which gave a crunchy texture contrast. The egg yolk was still soft so it ran down into the rice and you could mix it in and that was pretty nice, but it wasn’t nice enough to save this dish from being my least favorite thing on Marination’s menu.

But what about Marination’s vaunted Korean tacos? My verdict: mixed results at best. Each taco was $2, and you can choose between four different kinds: kalbi beef, spicy pork, ginger miso chicken, and tofu. The tofu taco doesn’t get any flavorful adjectives, probably because it’s so difficult to attach any flavor to tofu that flavorful WORDS won’t even stick to it.

For how high motherfucking falautin’ these tacos were supposed to be, I would call $2 a reasonable taco truck price. Kalbi beef was clearly the best : sweet and spicy and garlicky chunks of tender beef were topped with a tiny bale of crisp, tangy, sweet slaw of shredded cabbage and carrots with cilantro and wrapped in two (sometimes three) corn tortillas.

The so- called “spicy” pork was no spicier than the kalbi beef despite the fact that they actually took the time to describe the pork as being spicy. Like the kim chee fried rice, just because the ground pork in this taco was dyed orangey- red doesn’t make it spicy. Sure, it was spicier than a glass of water, but it definitely wasn’t as spicy as your mom’s love life.

The ginger miso chicken was what I would call a misfire: I guess they didn’t put enough ginger in it. I kept expecting to feel that rumbling, slow, sweet burn that only LOTS of ginger brings to a dish, but it never materialized. And the miso was too cloying and chalky.

As for the tofu taco: don’t bother unless you’re a freak. The tofu was grilled and marinated in some tangy salty marinade, but the marinade didn’t penetrate very far into the tofu. Every vegetarian I have ever met swears it can be flavored yet I personally have never tasted a piece of tofu that was truly seasoned. Tofu must be pretty dense; why are we making bulletproof vests of Kevlar, when a squishy, milky- white tofu vest is so much more impenetrable? At the very least we should consider making CONDOMS of tofu because obviously flavorful liquids can’t seep past it.

The aloha slider ($2) is the first and only sandwich that’s actively trying to provoke me. That’s because it has SPAM on it. Spam sucks. The great Jonathan Kauffman, formerly of the Seattle Weekly and an extraordinary yet understated dude (who has sadly left our faggy city for the even MORE fudge- packer friendly San Francisco) has predicted a Spam craze of the same magnitude as our current bacon mania (note: I don’t know if he actually wrote this or if I just made it up. Fuck journalism). While I personally believe that Kauffman is a prophet and is in fact the Salman Rushdie of food writing (I’d call him the J.D. Salinger but Kauffman is too prolific), I must disagree: Spam will never grip the popular imagination the way bacon has. That’s because Spam sucks. You may argue that Spam is really just a terrine of sorts, but if you make that argument I will punch you in the neck. Spam is an abomination; a slice of the festering pustulent nutsack of a gibbering insane Lovecraftian god. Spam is not food. Spam is your mom.

My friend and I tried to fry Spam once. At first it seemed somewhat appealing, though not necessarily edible: bubblegum pink and finely textured like a rubber pencil eraser. Then as it cooked the slices shrank down into brown leathery hockey pucks floating in a pool of their own rendered fat. Even though we were totally drunk we both refused to eat it, and THAT my friends has got to be some kind of anomaly because when I get drunk enough I’ll eat an Almond Joy without irony.

Still, the aloha slider surprised me: A slab of grilled spam cozied down in a nest of pulled pork, with more of the same sweet and tangy taco slaw on one of those weird sweet Hawaiian rolls. With a smoky, charred crust and surprisingly edible interior, the Spam was actually quite tasty. Besides, two kinds of meat are always better than one, even if one of the meats in question is Spam.

I really wanted to sneer at Marination because the only fusion I endorse is the fusion of your mom’s genitals with mine. And even THAT isn’t really very good. But Marination won me over because it is CHEAP: I ordered EVERY SINGLE MENU ITEM (except the drinks; I can buy my own can of Mr. Pibb, thanks) and the total was $28. And yes they did reuse a lot of the same ingredients over and over again, like the pulled pork and the slaw and the spicy pink saucy stuff, but it’s on a TRUCK for fuck’s sake. SO yeah: Marination is good, but it isn’t as good as getting a blowjob from a leprechaun on the deck of the solid platinum yacht you just won in the lottery. Still, it’s a solid value. Stick to the kalbi beef tacos and the aloha sliders and you can’t miss.

Rating: 6 Leprechauns out of 10

Marination Mobile (locations vary) on Urbanspoon