Outback Steakhouse - Where Bonzer Times Start With Awesome Tucker!
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
It was deja vu - eating at Outback Steakhouse on Christmas Eve during a typhoon recovery! The coincidence was uncanny, and I vividly remembered the positive impressions I had from the truly remarkable energy exhibited by the Outback's staff who worked ceaselessly to make the evening dining experience as satisfying as it is during "normal" times. We ate at Outback on Christmas Eve 1997, which was our last supper on Guam before flying on Christmas Day to visit family in Hawaii to get away from the recovery ordeal following Typhoon Paka. Although Super Typhoon Pongsona was far more devastating than Paka, you never would have known it since the Outback, located in Tumon's Pacific Place, didn't miss a beat and was up, running, and serving meals right after Pongsona crippled the island.
"Jam-packed" is the only way to describe the Outback experience...in fact, some people who are really hungry decide to go elsewhere since they don't like to wait. Yes, it was supposed to be up to an hour & a half wait, but we were lucky to find two seats in the busy bar area, which is a preferred spot to eat if you want to watch a little TV (they have two big monitors). After the stress of Christmas Eve's last minute shopping and the work-day wind down, I couldn't have imagined a better way to soothe my savage beast than to have a refreshing, frozen Gold Coast Rita, blended perfectly with Cuervo Gold.
Our server, Maia Perez, was so engaging and friendly that we almost forgot we were there to eat...just got caught up in the light conversation! She agreed that the "Aussie-Tizer" (appetizer) we selected (Ripper Shrimp -$12.95) would be a terrific way to start the night. The Outback recently added this appetizer (if you haven't been there for a while, they changed their menu about 2 months ago). The Ripper Shrimp is a half-pound of boiled peel and eat shrimp that are served on a bed of ice along with a zesty cocktail sauce. The serving dish is a stainless steel mini-pail that is stacked with ice, then layered with what seemed like a dozen or more good-sized shrimp. They were delicious!
We ordered the Jackeroo Chops ($18.95) with a side salad (Caesar) and another new item, "Sweet Chook O' Mine", which is a tender grilled breast of chicken with Swiss Cheese, bacon, lettuce and tomato, topped with a honey mustard sauce ($8.95). While we finished our salad (a tangy, well-blended Caesar) along with our loaf of Outback's signature sweet dark bread, we decided to order another appetizer, the Gold Coast Coconut Shrimp, which was something Zee had not yet experienced. This Aussie-Tizer is Maia's favorite, and has six gigantic shrimp that are dipped in a beer batter, then rolled in shredded coconut, and finally deep-fried to golden-brown perfection. The marmalade dipping sauce sweetens this up a bit, however you can squeeze some lemon on it to cut the sweetness...these are a treat which ever way you eat them, and well-worth the $9.95 price tag.
The Jackeroo Chops are awesome - two 8 ounce center cut pork chops that are cooked as you like them - Medium, Medium Well, or Well-done. In fact, they have the technology to cook these chops to rare without having to worry about the usual doneness concerns for pork. I had them Medium Well, and they are thick, tender, meaty, and well-seasoned. They were accompanied by cinnamon apples and a dipping sauce that was like a marmalade. The baked potato was one of the best I've had in memory. It was steaming hot, not at all dried out, and quite moist. It was loaded with fresh chives, real bacon bits that had a hickory-smoked freshness, sour cream and butter. This potato was even more fantastic and appreciated since many restaurants serve mediocre baked potatoes even during "normal" (non-typhoon affected) times. Obviously, it's a product Outback has paid close attention to perfecting.
Zee liked her sandwich a lot, though the appetizers, salad, and bread were very filling. I sampled a bite and marveled at the size, flavor, and moistness of the chicken breast. The Swiss cheese flavor was strong and balanced by the honey mustard's sweet tartness. This plate came with a plateful of hot Aussie chips - Australian for home fries.
There are a variety of great choices at the Outback, such as the Crab Dinner (1 lb of Alaskan King Crab legs, $34.95), the Outback Rack (14 oz rack of New Zealand lamb served with a Cabernet sauce for $24.95), Botany Bay Fish O' Day ($17.95) - which happened to be Mahi that night - one of my favorites, Prime Minister's Prime Rib (8, 12, and 16 oz cuts) - this dish is considered one of the best prime ribs on island, and Queensland Chicken 'N Shrimp ($16.95), which are seasoned and grilled then served over a bed of Fettuccine Alfredo. There are a brace of steak selections, other sandwiches, a Joey Menu (for the little ones under 10), and decadent, fabulous desserts (the Chocolate Thunder from Down Under is a meal unto itself - it'll spoil you!)
The Outback Steakhouse is open daily from 5 - 10 pm, and is arguably the most consistent restaurant on Guam. That's why there are always so many people willing to wait in line to eat...no reservations accepted! Once we were seated at a table in their cavernous, multi-sectioned dining room, it became evident to me that the servers, hostesses, and managers at Outback were performing as they always do, oblivious to the fact that the island just experienced a major natural catastrophe. The food is excellent, the service is great, and the ambiance is high energy. This is not a place for a quiet evening out - it is a place that celebrates life...something sorely needed and much-appreciated for typhoon-ravaged psyches!