As I looked up and down the Outback Jacks menu at Warwick Farm I have to admit I was feeling somewhat sceptical. Was this a fair dinkum Aussie restaurant or just another steak house dressed up in jingoistic menu dish names like Cattle Dogs True Blue T-Bone, Angus Bush Burger, Outback Chook and Jackaroo Salad? You get the picture.
Then there is the interior decor with its wall to wall Aussie iconic images such as native fauna road signs, kookaburra panoramas, menu specials and the elephant in the room, well, not the elephant but the life-size four metre crocodile upside down on the ceiling.
But back to the menu. Skippy Dundee? This at least sounded what I imagined Outback Jacks should be about. Kangaroo and crocodile skewers ($16.95) with 'Jack's bush chutney'. After quizzing our marvellously efficient and friendly host we add the chilli lime dressing.
The service is superbly efficient and timely. While we are waiting for the roo/croc combo entrée we make up our minds on the mains.
Offering the "largest range of steaks on any menu in the world", (their claim on the website) I thought I should go with a steak and choose the Surf and Turf, a 250g sirloin (100 day grain fed) with grilled barramundi, sautéed prawns, garlic cream sauce, chips and salad. Ms Pam, ever the contrarian, opts to stay on the bush tucker theme and selects the Bush Pepper Calamari with garlic aioli ($23.95) and the obligatory Australian accompaniment of chips and salad.
The Skippy Dundee arrives and both the croc and roo are well cooked and attractively served but they both benefit from liberal dunking in the chutney and dressing.
Both mains arrive within 20 minutes after ordering. They're served on large plates and the portion serves are generous. Lucky I'm hungry, there's a lot to go through. The steak, ordered medium, is succulent, the fish is well seasoned and cooked to perfection. The garlic sauce proves to be a very suitable accompaniment and I put the left over chilli lime dressing to good use with the fish, as well as Ms Pam's melt in your mouth calamari which are sensational.
Outback Jacks surprises us. Service, serving times, quality of the meals and ambiance is above our expectations. A few more 'bush tucker' dishes on the menu wouldn't hurt their reputation as a quintessential Aussie restaurant. I still, however, have the perception that Outback Jacks is a big boy's big steak restaurant but no matter, like a well thrown boomerang, we'll return to Outback Jacks.