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It's Friday, February 15, and Here's How to Get a Free Meal at Outback

Plus, don't tell your fellow members of Parliament that you just committed petty theft.
Outback Steakhouse

Welcome to Off-Menu, where we'll be rounding up all the food news and food-adjacent internet ephemera that delighted, fascinated, or infuriated us this morning.


  • Stephen Bonser didn't have plans for Valentine's Day dinner, so he did what anyone who was willing to trade several hours of their dignity for a mid-tier chain restaurant steak would do: He pretended to be stood up at Outback Steakhouse for so long that his fellow diners took pity on him and paid for his meal. Oh, and he documented the whole thing on Twitter (you're going to want to click through and peruse the whole thread). I thought I was going to hate this guy for scamming servers on one of the most stressful nights for restaurant staff and schmoozing for sympathy at a time when plenty of people have real problems—but, well, he's just so committed to the bit (plus he donated $50 to the ACLU to make up for his comp'ed meal).


  • I hate that I probably would check out the Sex and the City pop-up bar in Chicago; but, I would not order "The Carrie Cosmo" or “Mr. Big Takes On Manhattan.”
  • During a meeting of the Slovenian Parliamentary Agriculture Committee this week, one MP recounted the story of how he had literally just stolen a sandwich from a nearby shop to "check their system of control." The rest of Parliament didn't find this social experiment very compelling and the MP was forced to resign… and pay for the sandwich.
  • Papa John's just announced a new initiative to cover the tuition of undergraduate and graduate degrees from Purdue's online programs for its 20,000 employees, and is offering reduced tuition plans for the 70,000 people who work for its franchisees. It's a chance for the employees to further their education and a chance for the chain to garner some good press to help distract from… all of this.

Not News

The Washington Post has published A Take decrying the unchecked rise of "bowl culture" in America. Kristen Hartke isn't wrong that bowls have overtaken fast casual establishments and she's on to something with the way we implicitly associate food that's not served on a plate with something that's healthier for you. But: 1) Eating out of bowls is great, and any shift towards doing so more should be celebrated and 2) She might have gotten a little far afield in her attempt to establish broader significance. Anytime you find yourself referencing the dismissal of flat-earthers as proof of anti-plate bias, it might be time to take a step back and consider whether this op-ed would be better served as Just A Tweet.

Something Nice

Peter Glazebrook is a giant-vegetable-growing expert, with the world records to prove it. So, yeah, there are a lot of pictures of my man posing lovingly with his monster produce.

Buy This Bucket

Cookies n' creme frosting

This nine-pound tub of Oreo cookies 'n creme frosting is enough to coat 200 cupcakes. Or not. You decide.