I can remember a lot of “firsts” in my life. My first day of school, our first home, my first speeding ticket, our first beautiful baby, my first Bloomin’ Onion…
That last delicious milestone was quite a few years ago, mind you, but my taste buds and I remember it well.
On a business dinner, my husband “discovered” Outback . We had recently moved to a new city (where we had lived before was nowhere near an Outback), and he was like a kid in a new candy store. He came home raving about the steak, the bread, and the sides. He said it was the best steak he had ever eaten. Being a die-hard steak addict since I had enough teeth in my head to go one on one with one, the ravings about the bread and sides kind of whooshed past my ears. I kept hearing, “…the best steak I’ve ever had…” over and over and over again.
Two particular words snapped me out of it though – he professed his undying love for something called a Bloomin’ Onion and told me that I’d flip for it. He knows that onion rings are one of my thangs. No matter where we go or what we’re eating, if onion rings are on the menu, I’ll give them a go. I love seeing the differrent ways restaurants make them.
With all due respect to his beloved “Bloomin’ Onion,” I kept directing the conversation back to the steak. I kept thinking, “You’ve just had an amazing steak, my silly dear, how can you be talking so much about an onion?”
Oh, live and learn, Steak Girl, live and learn.
He took me and our girls the following weekend and OMG! The steak was mind-boggling, which put me over the moon, of course. I also remember the bread being sensational (another one of the things I put a lot of stock into – if a restaurant has crummy bread, they lose my love just like that). But, I must admit, I was as blown away by the Bloomin’ Onion as I was the steak.
Just the sight of it alone is a joy! The freshness of the onion, the unbelievably delicious crunchiness of the coating and the amazing dipping sauce all added up to the world’s best appetizer. Incredible!
When we moved again, and found ourselves once more out of reach of Outback, I bought one of those onion-splitting gadgets and tried to recreate the magic. It came up painfully short. It would have been like buying a can of spam and trying to recreate a steak.
Fortunately, one more move brought us back within reach of my favorite steakhouse and my favorite appetizer.
On March 15th….TOMORROW!….. Outback Steakhouse will celebrate its 20th birthday, which of course means the Bloomin’ Onion turns 20 as well. Outback would like for everyone to know that they are invited to come to the restaurant to enjoy a few other birthday specials. For a limited time only (through the end of April), Outback is offering its Founders’ Favorites:
* Top Cap Sirloin with herb vinaigrette
* Tuscan Ribeye with garlic mashed potatoes and black olive and sun-dried tomato tapenade
* Tilapia topped with jumbo lump crab meat
* Mixed Grill with sirloin, shrimp, and scallops
* Outback Special sirloin
Outback…. I love you.
THE BLOOMIN’ ONION FACT SHEET!
1. The Bloomin’ Onion is Outback Steakhouse’s signature dish and the first item on the menu 20 years ago!
2. The Bloomin’ Onion is a full onion that is fried and served with a spicy dipping sauce and is designed for one crowd. One Bloomin’ Onion can easily be shared among four to six of your mates.
3. During the first night of business in March 1988 at its brand new restaurant in Tampa, Florida, Outback sold just two Bloomin’ Onions (Must’ve been a city full of Steak heads like me). Since then, Outback has sold more than 133.5 million Bloomin’ Onions!!!!
4. Nowadays, Outback sells more than 15 million Bloomin’ Onions each year…that means, on average, Outback serves up over 40,000 Bloomin’ Onions per day!
5. Co-founder and renowned restaurateur Tim Gannon created the concept for the infamous appetizer more than 20 years ago. He was inspired by Japanese cookbooks he read in the early 80’s, which featured vegetables cut and prepared with intricate floral designs.
6. Today, the onions used for Bloomin’ Onions are specially grown for Outback in many parts of the U.S. The “Spanish Colossal” or “Super Colossal” onions are a genetic hybrid with smaller hearts than traditional onions. Before it is cut, the onion is 16 ounces big and 4-1/2 inches wide!
7. Outback Steakhouse has a specially manufactured cutting device called the Gloria that “blooms” the onions into their famed floral shape. Tim Gannon named the Gloria after the hymn of the same name…when he finally had the “aha! moment” on how to create the device that could cut through all those onions, Gannon says it felt like all those years he spent in Catholic school belting out Gloria in excelsis deo at the top of his lungs!
8. For the first five years of operation before the invention of the Gloria, Outback Steakhouse cut all its Bloomin’ Onions by hand!
9. Outback uses 17 different spices to flavor the onion and an additional 37 different spices for the dipping sauce.
10. Outback’s famous Airship is named after the Bloomin’ Onion. The Outback Steakhouse Bloomin Onion 1 Airship is 130 feet long, 38 feet wide and 45 feet tall. It can carry three passengers and 1 pilot in its 14 foot long gondola.
11. Actor Kevin Costner is such a fan of Outback and the Bloomin’ Onion that he put the Outback Steakhouse Airship in his upcoming Disney Touchstone movie, “Swing Vote.”
You’ll want to save a little room, even after the perfect steak and priceless Bloomin’ Onion, for the beauty you see pictured above: Chocolate Thunder From Down Under! It all starts with a delicious pecan brownie and mouthwatering vanilla ice cream. Then the party gets into full swing with homemade chocolate sauce and chocolate shavings.
Coming Tomorrow: More about the history of Outback, including Outback innovations, plans for the future, and how Outback gives back to the community.