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Business Observer Friday, Jul. 1, 2016 4 years ago

No rules, just big

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Healthy eating, smaller portions and superfoods have been all the rage in the restaurant sector for a few years. Gluten-free and locally grown products top the trend lines, too.

Healthy eating, smaller portions and superfoods have been all the rage in the restaurant sector for a few years. Gluten-free and locally grown products top the trend lines, too.

Then there's Outback Steakhouse's latest menu move.

The Tampa-based chain, part of Bloomin' Brands, introduced what it calls “the new and much anticipated” Loaded Bloomin' Onion June 21. It's part of Outback's Big Australia Menu, which offers several more large-portion dishes.

The Loaded Bloomin' Onion appetizer, or in Outback lingo, “Aussie-tizer” melds together two of the chain's iconic dishes — Aussie Cheese Fries and the Bloomin' Onion. Available through Aug. 2, the Loaded Bloomin', Outback says in a statement, “is a shareable, indulgent appetizer.” It's a hefty 2,360 calories.

But in the days leading up to the product debut, some of the sharing, online at least, when it came to the new app was mockery. Multiple websites and food blogs weighed in on the app, from People magazine to Fox News. A June 15 post on Mashable, shared more than 1,100 times, was titled “Outback Steakhouse insults Australia by putting cheese fries on a Bloomin' Onion.”

Food blog the Daily Meal called the dish a “completely ridiculous... double-dose of deep-fried insanity” that is “what we can safely say is the unhealthiest appetizer in chain restaurant history.”

Not all the reviews were bloated. The People magazine writer called the Loaded Bloomin' both “one of the more indulgent items you'll ever encounter” and an experience that was “pretty magical.”

If all this gluttony is too much to take, Outback, in the statement, says it has several appetizers with fewer than 600 calories. Those include the Crab and Avocado Stack and Grilled Chicken on the Barbie.

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