Sunday, March 27, 2016

Restaurant Review: Cheesecake Factory at Twelve Oaks Mall

3 Hour Wait?

Is it worth it?

We attempted to go to Cheesecake Factory two weekends ago, due to a birthday request, but the wait was at least three hours. Now, I will go somewhere, put my name in, and come back, but this wait included a "check in" an hour in, and that's too much in terms of logistics. So we bailed that time and went to Buddy's Pizza instead.

This past weekend we had a plan. You have to come up with a plan when a birthday wish is involved. . . My husband stopped by the mall on his way home from work, and put our name in. At that time there was an estimated 90 minute wait, with a 45 minute check in. Traveling the rest of the way home, and then BACK to the mall, got us at about 55 minutes. By the time I checked in, I was notified our table was being cleaned off!

I have been to Cheesecake Factories before, including Indianapolis and Chicago, but it was years ago. . . This was the first time for the rest of my family. Our fifteen year old likes cheesecake as this was his birthday request, but I'm not certain that was why he requested it. I'm thinking it had more to do with Penny and Bernadette working at Cheesecake Factory on Big Bang. . . Let's start by saying the set on Big Bang is NOTHING like the restaurant. Actually my son described it best; he said it looked like a casino to him. Being that he's fifteen, he must have this impression from television shows, but I think he's right about the opulence.

I started with a cocktail. The menu is extensive and even the drinks are overwhelming. As I like grapefruit, I tried the Ruby Red Sunrise. This featured Tito's Vodka, Fresh Grapefruit Juice, Lime juice, and St. Germaine, all over crushed ice. It was light and refreshing, and a good salute to the upcoming summer weather we are looking forward to. Next time I may try one of their margaritas as they had a few to pick from.

Fresh bread was brought to the table. There were two varieties. One was really good dark bread, similar to Outback Steakhouse. The other one was more of a sourdough with cracked wheat. While the bread was soft and warm, it was disappointing that the butter pats were frozen. It took us a few minutes to defrost them with our hands to use on the bread, while the bread was cooling.

We ordered calamari for an appetizer. If you can wait, I urge you to do so. The calamari was delicious but there was so much food, I wish I had waited. The calamari had a light batter, and came with a really good garlic dip as well as a cocktail sauce that was not the usual one from a bottle. Really nice flavors and the calamari itself was a combination of the tentacles and the rings which is always a nice surprise.

We ordered very different dishes. We had a Pasta Carbora which was good but nothing extraordinary. There were very nice chunks of bacon in it but the noodles were spaghetti and it was just plated by sticking it in a bowl. I'm not sure how they could have made it more attractive but it was just there. It was a generous portion but quantity can't be a selling point. . .

The bacon hamburger was really delicious. The bacon made it . . . thick slab bacon with a peppery hint along with a brown sugar crust. I could have eaten a plate of just the bacon. This was a nice size burger and it also came with fries that were nice and crisp.

The chicken and biscuits was very different than what I imagined. This is no Cracker Barrel! The chicken was pounded very flat, like a scaloppini, and came with hearty gravy filled with really fresh vegetables. Large juicy mushrooms and carrots were featured prominently. I don't do chicken but my daughter said it was delicious. I can tell you the vegetables, red skin mashed potatoes, and the biscuits were really good.

I ordered a crispy shrimp sandwich. The bread was like a brioche, a soft texture that played very well with the very crispy shrimp. The shrimp was loaded on this sandwich and reminded me of a Po Boy. However, I should have asked for the Siracha on the side. It should have said "SPICY Crispy Shrimp Sandwich" because for me, that overpowered the remoulade. I would try this again without the siracha just so I could enjoy the shrimp fully. I also ordered this with a salad instead of the fries. I love Caesar but this one was really drenched in dressing and I didn't eat it after one bite.

Cheesecake? Well I'm not a super cheesecake fan and would have preferred one of the other desserts but it was a birthday celebration and two kids had other ideas. The fifteen year old loves classic cheesecake. He's a purist and ordered it with a fresh strawberry topping. The eleven year old is not a classicist and she wanted lots of chocolate. She ordered the Black Tuxedo Cheesecake which has mascarpone cream and cookie crust. Both were decadent and both were completely devoured.

If you are going for the cheesecake it may be worth the wait and the drive. There is also a lot to choose from, varying from healthy options such as complex salads to down south kind of comfort foods. By the time we were done I was full and unpleasantly stuffed even if I left more than half my food to take home. I think I would pace myself better next time and make the small plates part of the menu my friend. . .

This wasn't a cheap meal and while it was fresh and good quality, I can personally think of several restaurants I like better if I'm going to spend that type of money. . . It's definitely an experience but not something I would do on a regular basis.

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