Walking into any Cheesecake Factory is like walking into a different world. The entire architecture, both inside and out, is very unique, to say the least – it’s like being inside of a melting, goopy cake or pudding. Just looking at it makes my teeth feel like cavities, but because of the dim lighting, this effect is (thankfully) cut down by a large margin.
I went in celebration of a friend’s birthday, and although I was feeling a little apprehensive about it since I know exactly how long the wait can get, my fears were blown away when we were seated almost immediately, and got a place in a cute ‘hole’ in the wall, so it was almost like we got our own private booth. The host was very friendly, and made sure to remember the birthday girl’s name. Our server Chad also made sure we were felt welcomed and comfortable, before scurrying off to place our orders.
Let me tell you first off, that their pre-dinner bread is AMAZING. It’s the best bread I’ve ever had at any restaurant, although Bravo! comes at a close second. It’s just the perfect balance of crispiness mixed with a soft, moist inside, which I have no idea how they managed while keeping the bread piping hot at the same time. I especially enjoyed their dark rye bread. If I could, I would have ordered several of these bread rolls to take home, but sadly the bread does get dry and hardens a little once it cools down. But it’s definitely all part of the Cheesecake Factory experience, so I’ll take what I can get!!
Anyway, as for the dishes, I ordered a firecracker salmon, which is basically like a deep fried spring roll wrapped around salmon and spinach served on top of a heap of red cabbage. I think they shredded an entire head of red cabbage for me…there was too much of it, and I wish they’d mixed in some other salad veggies like lettuce or carrots and onions. But the rolls themselves were good, and came with a chili sauce that helped flavour it. The wrapper was fried to a light crunch, which was good.
In the spirit of Asian sharing, we also tried the dishes everyone else ordered. Which all happened to be pasta dishes, but everything was cooked so well that all the carbs we were eating tasted different. First was the garlic noodle dish, that came with shrimp. Very good, and seasoned well, although I couldn’t taste as much garlic as I would have liked (despite the fact that my friend asked for extra garlic). Both the shrimp and pasta were done just right, and came piping hot. Next was the cajun jambalaya pasta, which had both shrimp and chicken and a great spicy kick to it, although the pasta completely failed – it was really mushy and overcooked, so we had to send it back. They were really good about it though; the manager even came out to apologise and everything. Otherwise, the meat was done just right.
Another friend ordered the Da Vinci – more chicken, but with mushrooms and onions. I actually didn’t get to try this dish, but my friend liked it so it was definitely passable. Their meat and seafood chef(s) deserves extra praise – I can count on two hands of all the places that do meat so well, because most places leave the meat a little too dry, too cold, too raw, underseasoned, or all of the above. I think next time, I’ll try one of their burgers or sandwiches and take the best of both worlds – their stellar bread, and amazing meat.
As for the birthday girl, she was properly embarrassed by the group of 5 singing waiters (slightly off-tune but that makes it all the more endearing), and came with a red velvet and white chocolate cheesecake complete with lit candle and handwritten name on the side. They were actually very sneaky in all this – although we were supposed to get a free sundae for her birthday, we’d ordered a red velvet cheesecake to share, thinking that we’d still get the sundae. Nope, not gonna happen, especially not in this economy. A misunderstanding, but next time for sure I’ll withhold ordering dessert and let them bring in the boring sundae (and save an extra $7+!).
8/10 stars, although it’s a pricier place to go to (average is about $15-$20 per person).