Outback Steakhouse, 16301 East
40th Avenue, Denver
After a game of golf out by DIA, friends suggested a drink at the nearest bar: Outback Steakhouse. Hey, any port in a storm. But the second I stepped inside, my disdain for mid-level chain restaurants came flooding back like a repressed memory. Can someone please explain to me how peppering a menu with expressions like "She's a beaut!" "Shrimp on the barbie" and "Hooley dooley" gives "a casual atmosphere suggestive of the Australian Outback"? Would it be the "Midwestern grain fed beef"? Or perhaps the clever signs and faux boomerangs, surfboards, maps and flags that remind me I've now entered the Outback? The actual Australian Outback is a place where rugged individualism is highly regarded -- yet judging from the crowd at this Outback, there's nothing rugged or individual that these people would regard as worthy. Attempting to disappear into the dismal averageness, I ordered a Wallaby Darned ($4.95). You'd think a place would only trademark a cocktail if it's worth stealing, but this crushed-ice catastrophe made me wonder why anyone would drink it, let alone pilfer it. With my first sip, I imagined the gap-toothed men that I met in the real Australian Outback rolling on the ground after their poorly maintained incisors touched the "Down Under frozen wonder with peaches, DeKuyper Peachtree Schnapps, champagne, Smirnoff Vodka and secret mixers." But anyone who'd order this cocktail here shouldn't have to worry about brain freeze -- the damage will already have been done prior to walking in. Those with any brain cells left should order the Washington Apple Martini ($4.88), made of equal amounts of DeKuyper Apple Pucker, Crown Royal and Cranberry Juice. Shockingly, it tasted like apple -- the only authentic experience I had at the Outback.