“You haven’t been to The Cheesecake Factory?!” That was the reaction of both Sherman and Mijune when I was asking them for options of eateries in the Washington. In the past I have chosen not to go to chains, unless it is a local/regional chain because, let’s face it, pretty much you can go there when options run out. However, there was some enthusiasm and a partial endorsement from both that I thought I should give it a try. So, here it goes!
Unlike my previous trips, on this one, I was with OF, FO and EZ. Since I ended up being the designated driver, to a certain extent, I ended up picking the places to eat after work. Of course, I always checked if there was a particular like/dislike before choosing the place but, in the case of The Cheesecake Factory, it is one of those where there will always be something that people can eat. After been seated in a far corner, which is both good and bad, it was time to check the menu. Now, I did have some suggestions (more on that in a moment) but it seemed it took the wait staff forever to take our orders. But, once that was taken care of…
I tried both complimentary breads and they did what they were supposed to do. While the white one is your regular baguette, for the darker one… Well, I am sure it is a form of whole wheat, probably with some molasses (as it was somewhat sweet) rather than high-fructose corn syrup (or other sweetener) to make it darker. It was OK but, then again, I wasn’t really looking forward to fill up myself with just bread.
FO and EZ decided to share one main dish, aside of two small side dishes (which ended up being a Greek salad and some fried cheese). Above, their spicy ahi tempura roll – Fresh Raw Ahi Tuna with Green Onion, Spicy Soy Sauce, Ginger and Garlic. Wrapped in Nori and Flash Fried Tempura Style. I did not try to steal a piece (I did not want to push it, as I was already given the chance to take pictures) but, from the looks of it… Well, I am not sure what to think. While the concept of almost anything fried will taste good apply, I am not certain how it would work with sheets of seaweed. But, the fact they almost finished it was a good sign.
OF went for chicken, specifically, lemon-herb roasted chicken – served with Mashed Potatoes, Carrots and Watercress Topped with a Light Lemon Garlic-Herb Sauce. The portion was huge! I thought it would be a quarter chicken or a chicken breast or two. Nope, it was half a chicken! OF couldn’t finish it but, nevertheless, it was enjoyed.
When I checked with Mijune, there were some dishes she suggested. Above one of them: fried macaroni and cheese – Crispy Crumb Coated Macaroni and Cheese Balls. Served over a Creamy Marinara Sauce. OK, this is one of those cases where I believe that they take a classic (macaroni and cheese) and, by making it bad (i.e., frying it), it ends up into something… Good? This is one instance where I will try it but not finish it. In fact, OF, FO and EZ declined to give it a try as it looked that decadent. Yes, after that crunchy outside layer, you could taste the creaminess of the cheese. The macaroni was, well, just to bond everything together, so it wasn’t that relevant. And, to finish it, a slight sweet and acidic from the tomato sauce. It was good; however, unlikely I will order it again. Too much fried stuff in a single dish…
Since I have had a bit too much fried food already (fish-n-chips from Moby Dick, fried chicken from Ezell’s Chicken and the above fried mac-n-cheese), there was no way I would order more fried stuff. Instead, I went for something “healthy” (ha!). In this case, fresh grilled mahi mahi. For the sides, I went for green beans and spinach. Not being a seafood house, it wasn’t that bad; however, if I put it in the perspective of what is on the plate, it was a bit disappointing. It was overcooked and neither the mayo and lemon helped at all. I will admit this might not be the best option in a place like this so I will give it some leeway.
After we finished our meals, I threw the question: does anybody want a dessert to share? That question was met with “are you kidding me?!” expressions. But, let’s face it: there was no way I would go to a place called “The Cheesecake Factory” without having some cheesecake! Originally, Mijune suggested me the vanilla cheesecake; however, the waitress while opening the dessert menu, there was one that really caught my attention: Stefanie’s Ultimate Red Velvet Cheesecake – Moist layers of Red Velvet Cake and our Original Cheesecake covered with our special Cheesecake Factory cream cheese frosting..
When it arrived at the table, I had to insist everybody to give it a try. In the end, FO and EZ did, but just a small piece. In their opinion, this was extremely heavy. As a result, I had a larger share. But, back to the cheesecake… Probably the picture does not make justice to how reddish the cake layer was. Past that it was a sweet moist cake, though lacking of other flavours. Then again, it is not a, say, chocolate cake. The cheesecake layer itself was, as mentioned above, quite heavy which, oddly, balanced the red velvet cake. However, in the end, it was an extreme sugar overload, something that I would rather skip – but I am certain others will appreciate.
In the end, I will have to admit it was better than what I was expected. Some offerings might not be as good as others but, as a whole, it does well what it (sort of) promises it do. As for myself, been there, done that. But, if given the options of several similar chains, I think I might end up in here. Otherwise, I might go to a local dive.