Friday, March 22, 2013

Bowie Restaurant Project: (64) Outback Steakhouse

For an explanation of the Bowie Restaurant Project, look here.

For a list of all the Bowie Restaurant Project reviews, look here.

Outback Steakhouse, 6800 Race Track Road
Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 3/17/2013
Total Foursquare Check-ins: 1
Pre-Foursquare Visits: No
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Let's get a few things out of the way. First of all, a couple of years ago, the Bowie Outback moved from one part of Hilltop Plaza to another. As far as I can tell, they did so to be more visible from the road, which is kind of a lame reason. The move helped mess up parking, and left a vacant building at their old location. So jeers to them for that, though I won't downgrade their rating for it. They ended up with some nice decor, though I think they could have done that with a nice renovation.

Second, I know it's a chain. I know it's a totally fake version of Australia -- I wish I could eat at Ned Kelly's Retreat instead. Still, Outback is a guilty pleasure, and one of the more promising chain restaurants in Bowie.

Since Outback is not open for weekday lunch, one of my usual strategies for planning a Bowie Restaurant Project visit -- taking along a co-worker -- wouldn't work. It's also a bit pricey, so it called for a bit of a special occasion. My birthday did the trick, but the visit kept being postponed due to illness, and once due to a potential 30-minute wait with hungry and impatient toddlers.

This time, I called ahead to find out that there was no wait. By the time we got there, a 10-minute wait had developed. That wasn't a huge problem, but we had to repeatedly decline offers of being seated in a booth after we had told them we wanted a table. That mild annoyance may have been indicative of staff turnover, because a couple of times I saw confusion about basic restaurant operation.

The food itself, however, was excellent, and the service was attentive. Christina remarked, and I agree, that the food is better than at the Hyattsville location near our old house. I got what I almost always get at Outback -- a steak, medium-rare, with mushrooms on the side. I got one of the larger sizes, intending to save it for a meal the next day -- but I ended up finishing the whole thing.

I wasn't the only one who overindulged. Salem, who proclaimed, "That was a good restaurant," as he was being buckled into the car, was up for at least an hour that night with indigestion. I can't blame that on the restaurant, rather a two-and-half year-old who doesn't know when to stop eating.

So, three stars. I think if I were planning to eat steak and weren't looking to round out my reviewing, I'd probably opt for the Old Bowie Town Grille or Rip's instead. If, however, I were dining with someone who wanted the familiarity of a chain, or I didn't want to go more than a mile and a half from my house, Outback is a fine choice.

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