In the mood for some Australian food? Most people tend to associate Outback Steakhouse with the Australian accents you hear in the commercials for the restaurant. This chain is owned by Bloomin’ Brands Inc., which is a company of restaurants than run Outback among other popular chains. The point is to create an impression that you are getting Australian food by creating an “Australian outback” environment. But don’t let the accents fool you! There is nothing Australian about the menu except for the names of the dishes 1.
The menu consists of your typical, steaks, seafood, burgers, and ribs, something offered at thousands of restaurants in New York City. Trying to fit in with the theme they created a burger known as the “Bloomin’ Burger”, because it’s topped with bloomin’ onion petals. They advertise the Bloomin’ Onion, which is their signature appetizer as an Australian dish when in fact, the “Bloomin’ Onion” originated right here in America.
This whole chain is American. Maybe this isn’t obvious at first, but when compared to actual authentic Australian restaurants such as The Thirsty Koala, in Astoria, Queens.
Opened in December 2012, The Thirsty Koala is Astoria’s first Australian restaurant, and a successful one at that. The owners, Christine Chellos, Alex Styponias, and Katherine Fuchs decided it was time to bring something new to the neighborhood other than the usual Greek, Italian, and Mexican restaurants you find on every corner. It is of no surprise that they call themselves “authentic”, but unlike Outback they have a very sufficient reason to. The restaurant’s beef and lamb are shipped from Australia and iced coffee is serves with a scoop of ice cream and whipped cream on top, or “Aussie style”. They go as far as serving the unofficial symbol of Australia in many of their dishes. You can find kangaroo scattered all over the menu.
The Thirsty Koala has kangaroo sliders as well as kangaroo tacos and even filets and sirloins. Inside, you’ll find bright colors decorated with wooden accents. The walls consist of indigenous artifacts, such as an Australian spear and didgeridoo, a wooden pipe instrument.2.
They claim that this casual atmosphere is very Australian because they want their customers to be extremely comfortable in their restaurant. The interior of Outback is nothing more than wooden panels floor to ceiling. There’s a booth, there’s a bar. Everything about the place is what you would see in a typical American corporate owned restaurant.
Le Pain Quotidien has done an excellent job of maintaining an image as an authentic French restaurant. They have established 30 stores just in New York City all with an atmosphere and interior of that of a European bakery. But the real question is how can a corporation begin establishing store after store ensuring that the authenticity of the food doesn’t decrease?
The answer is that it does. It’s very difficult to maintain core values of the company when you are hiring many people to just make the food as opposed to a certain number of bakers in one restaurant that specialize in the food and can offer this authenticity every time. The ingredients are not going to taste the same internationally, and what may have worked in the original Le Pain in Brussels, may not necessarily be carried over the same way. Being able to replicate dishes that were served in Brussels at a restaurant in Chelsea is difficult and involves preciseness that is almost impossible to master. Because they are corporate they have to meet certain standards and follow rules that a small boulangerie might not have to. What started off as a bakery has extended to a restaurant that serves soups, breakfast, quiches, tartines, and all sorts of platters just to name a few.
Patisserie Claude knows better than to try to expand internationally. Their exclusive menu allows them to provide their customers with savory croissants and other French pastries that bring customers from all over the city to the minuscule bakery in the center of the West Village. The shop was a food critic’s pick in New York Magazine. Kathleen Squires writes “Suddenly you’re in Paris, deliciously transported to the Rue de la Paix.” This is no exaggeration. The chocolate croissants melt in your mouth, and all you can think about is how can something be THIS good? Although Claude, the original owner had retired, he made sure to pass the bakery down to good, French hands, who have ensured that the authenticity doesn’t get compromised.