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Outback Jacks in Rockhampton – a revisit

I know that Outback Jacks has copped a bit of flack in the past, and of the couple of times I’d been there in the past for both lunch and dinner I hadn’t been impressed with the food or the service. Seriously, what’s worse than being parked in a restaurant with a mouth as dry as the Sahara Desert and nobody can be found to serve another round. Assuming that restaurants like to make money it seems to me that flogging alcohol must have an awesome profit margin and therefore waiters should stand next to your elbow in case you need another. I don’t think it would even be offensive to ask, “You look thirsty, would you like two?” But I digress because my blood pressure’s now increasing just thinking about it.

Due to the new management I had been thinking about going back for awhile, but at the same rate I like my friends and family and wasn’t sure if I should experiment at their expense in case it was still bad.

Lo, in my inbox came an email about “All you can eat” ribs and wings. $29.95. A work colleague doesn’t mind some ribs or wings either, and even though I explained in advance that he might want to bring his own esky if he likes to receive drinks we decided we’d give it a go.

I made a quick trip past my wife’s work area (we work at the same place). It’s an informal thing but I feel the need to ask for some kind of permission before embarking on anything that is “unlimited”. I guess it’s kind of like the last reality check before doing something dumb, like jumping off a cliff, drinking a yard glass of beer, or eating ribs until you burst.

Approval was granted and off we drove to Outback Jacks. The drive took longer than the walk would have and there was some momentary wonder at how lazy we were, but I asserted that the walk back would be uncomfortable once we ate the place out of ribs. We’d probably have to send a boy off to the shops to buy some more.

We fronted up and suddenly felt a bit sheepish. The infinite ribs (I decided I like infinite better that unlimited) deal wasn’t on the menu apparently as its a promo thing. I was hoping I could just point at it and grunt rather than saying out loud that we’d quite like to take out a bet that we can eat more than the conventional amount of ribs that could be gotten for $29.95. Nonetheless the waiter was quite good and didn’t show any apparent surprise at our undertaking. He arrived fairly quickly with some drinks which was extremely welcome after the 2 minute drive and 10 metre walk.

The place wasn’t very busy, but it was also a Thursday and for some reason it seems reasonable that steak meals would be more popular on other days, and even moreso at nights. Also, we kind of had our own waiter which I suggest you try sometime.

After about 10 minutes the meals arrived and I believe it was a fairly generous helping of ribs and a couple of chicken wings. We had both opted for “mild” and not the optional “hot”. Having been to the Yeppoon Chilli festival just weeks ago I thought my wife would not be happy with me if I hurt myself in that manner again.

The ribs seemed to be primarily beef and were absolutely spectacular. The meat was delicious, attached the bone but happily willing to spring free and give up it’s BBQ’y goodness.

I think there were three chicken wings that were incased in some kind of “southern” batter, with copious amounts of sauce. Now, one thing struck me – all the bones in the wings were broken which made them annoying to pull to bits. I nearly abandoned them except that you had to eat everything on the plate to get another serve. The wings themselves tasted – well – just bad. If you imagine the worst cook you know who has recently been to one of those home party plan events where they sell herbs and spices. And this guy, he has bought a whole bunch of different spices and decides to make some wings. This is just like what they would turn out like. If I made these at home and served them, I would preface dinner with an apology.

I ate them, but I would skip them in a heartbeat.

So, back to this unlimited thing. I mentioned a rule a minute ago about eating the whole plate. One thing that isn’t terribly obvious is that underneath the ribs and wings is a bed of thick cut chips about equal in weight to the meat. I would estimate 200 grams of chips at least. I don’t eat potato so I was in a tough place! I really wanted more ribs but I suddenly felt a little scammed. Upon closer inspection of the photograph of the meal on the wall with a telescope as powerful as the Hubble I was able to notice that it indeed showed some chips.

The waiter (bless his heart, he was great) understood my predicament and rushed off to bring back more ribs anyway whilst I poked at the chips wondering if they could be exchanged for, well, anything else.

Our second drinks came quickly and even though we had to ask for them I was pleased that they came with a fresh glass of ice.

Arriving back 10 minutes later with more ribs it occurred to me that it would basically be unlikely for anyone to go much beyond that due to the sheer amount of wait time between serves. I took out the remaining ribs which were somehow better than the first – and they were fricking, awesomely piping hot and wonderful. I will think about them for some time. The wings – I kind of sidelined those. I would have jettisoned them if I could have.

Overall, it was enjoyable and I would go back. The unlimited ribs feel like a bit of a dodgy offering overall though – there’s so many chips to get through, the wings aren’t that good, and the wait is long enough to limit the damage you could do.

Edit: We drove back!

Note: This article originally appeared on the Rockhampton Food Rater Facebook page, and was written by me on 11 September, 2014.

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