Tonight a bunch of us went out for Charlie's birthday, and it was lotsa fun – great company, good atmosphere, and overall a good laugh. The thing that piqued my interest though was the restaurant that we went to – The Texas Embassy just near Trafalgar Square. Actually it could have been nearer something else, but my geographical grasp on things is, as always, shite.

I didn't get any photos, but the basic concept is that it's “Tex Mex” food, and the interior of the place is done up to look like you're sitting outside in Texas (apart from the obvious lack of sunshine, but that wouldn't improve even if you WERE outside…). What got me was the menu – it had all that stuff to suggest that because it's Texan, it's huge. A bit hard to judge really, I thought, until you've actually seen it… and helpfully they had the steak-weights listed in ounces, which is another thing I've got no concept of. But I digress.

The thing that caught my eye was this item on the starters menu: “Texas Rose” – Colossal whole yellow onion, sliced to blossom. Dipped in spiced batter, lightly fried and served with fresh garlic-cilantro mayonnaise.

OK, got that ? It's an onion, sliced to look like a flower, battered, then deep fried. And here's a picture.

I say, has anyone in here been to a Lone Star Steakhouse ? It's a western-themed place which we had a couple of in Adelaide at one point, and in my opinion they were much better when you were still allowed to throw the peanut shells on the ground. A little disconcerting that the waiting staff came out and linedanced every hour. ANYWAY, their menu offers the following: “Texas Rose” – Enough for two! A fresh whole onion cut to bloom, hand-battered, and served with our special seasoned sauce.

Coincidence ?

My mind was cast back to my 1996 trip to the USA, when I had the opportunity to dine at The Outback Steakhouse – a place every bit as Australian as McDonald's is Scottish. Having just read their drinks list, they do offer such gems as the Down Under Daiquiri, and they've even got 3 or 4 Australian wines on their wine list… but apart from that it all looks more or less identical to what's on the menu at Texas Embassy/Lone Star ! “Kookaburra Wings”, “Rockhampton Rib Eye”, “Prime Minister's Prime Rib” (that sounds singularly awful – there's no way I'd eat ANY part of that irrelevant little runt…).

But yes, as the point of this story unfolds, one of their most “popular” “Aussie-tizers” (groan) is: Bloomin' Onion® – An Outback Ab-original from Russell's Marina Bay. Guess what kids ?

I don't think I should go on, because I suspect my cynical tone is implying that I didn't enjoy my trip to the Texas Embassy – a statement that could not be further from the truth! However the only thing that I could honestly say was “Texas sized” there would be the bill. For something truly Texas sized, I'd suggest that the BoomBar's 32oz (907.18474 gram – I can see that marketing is the drive here) Steak would be a much safer bet. That much red meat just *has* to be good for you.

2004-12-31 : Charlotte the Starlet
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