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Outback Steakhouse Edgewater

1/2 Yay, finally. I was thwarted before, at this doozy in an Edgewater, NJ Target parking lot, waving-distance from the upper west side. This is one of the few big chain restaurants that I've never had the opportunity to enjoy.

Since steak is in their name, I felt I should order one. But I didn't pay close attention to the menu and, ended up being talked into one that wasn't steaky so much as roasty and came with a bowl of au jus. Boy, that baby was big. 16 oz. I think. After those Kookaburra wings and Caesar salad, I could seriously could only eat about a third of it. But the next day, fried up with eggs, it made quite a breakfast.

Part of the fun of chain restaurants is calculating the timing between drink order, when the salad and bread will comes, to when the main dish will arrive, to when they'll ask if you want a refill. It's all so wrong, but so accurate. How do they do it? We practically had it timed to the minute from ordering to when the food came out.

Outback Steakhouse makes for a fun afternoon excursion. At 4pm on a Sat., it was our first meal of the day, but clearly many were doing that odd early dinner thing that families and old folks seem to love. But maybe they're on to something. The last time I tried to eat there, it was around 6pm and the projected hour wait (they know their timing so there was no doubt it'd be a single minute earlier) was just too much for me.

You may be tempted to sit on benches outside and enjoy the view of the Hudson River, but the sludge and stink from the little inlet could change your mind. When I think cement shoes, this is exactly the sort scenery I imagine. (5/26/01)

Why are Outbacks so popular? Who waits over an hour for Aussie chain restaurant steak and Bloomin' Onions? I do. I don't know, I can't help myself. What's more baffling about the experience is their choice of music, which you become acutely aware of while waiting hungrily for such long periods of time. It's an '80s mix, smattered with Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen standards, but primarily consists of tunes of the mildly "alternative" persuasion. Old pre-radio Cure "The Walk," Talk Talk, The Smiths "Ask" and the like. This is my youth, it might be the programming director's youth, but it's certainly not the youth of the average tri-state Outback customer. I could be wrong, but I just don't see the Puerto Rican families with five toddlers and stereotypical Jersey couples, complete with crispy curls for girls and pleated khakis for guys, who appear my age since they're married with children, but are probably in their early-mid 20s, and black guys drinking foofy colorful drinks (what's up with that? I've spotted this a lot lately) listening to this music 15-20 years ago. For a true experience head to the restrooms or stand outside the front entrance where it's piped twice as loud as inside. A little tipsy from my giant Foster's, I almost busted a gut while peeing to the sounds of Kim Wilde's, "Kids in America." Am I Outback's intended demographic? Because I kind of liked it. (6/15/02)

OutbackSteakhouse * 539 River Rd., Edgewater,NJ

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