If you think that all the Cheesecake Factor has to offer is a huge variety of cheesecake, well, it has so much more!
After visiting The Cheesecake Factory in my original hometown of Wayne, NJ, I have decided that it is an ultimate comfort food destination. Just because it is a chain restaurant, don’t disqualify it for authentic rib-sticking food (and in large portions to boot). The Cheesecake Factory menu is huge and overall there are nearly 100 choices between the dozens of appetizers, sides, entrees and desserts. I have failed to mention a highly creative cocktail selection and authentic Euro styles coffee including lattes, espresso and cappuccino. I made a point of selecting a variety of dishes that go from Euro faves to the aforementioned American comfort food and was wowed by all. Pictured above is the standout Chicken Sliders which features chicken breast patties that are “golden fried” and crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. The soft rolls are a beautiful finish along with the chipotle aioli served in a separate small bowl. These chicken sliders rival any that I have eaten before and they are served hot out of the pan. I think I will be having dreams about these sliders in the coming months (and maybe years, LOL)!
Speaking of sliders, the classic beef sliders are excellent. The meat patties are hand formed, about 1/2 inch thick and juicy. They are served medium well so specify with your server if you would like your meat cooked to a lower temperature. They have the same winning homemade soft white rolls as the chicken sliders. Think of these sliders as a more upscale, bigger and juicier version of the classic style sliders served at places like White Castle. It is needless to say that this is a crowd pleasure to start any lunch or dinner off with, especially if you have young diners at your table!
I wanted to check out of one the English pub style dishes on the menu, so I went for the Shepherd’s Pie. It is a classic recipe done with peas, carrots, ground beef and brown sauce topped with mashed potatoes. This dish features fresh herbs including thyme and it is truly amazing. This is just how a Shepherd’s Pie would be cooked by your English “gran.” This was a super pleasant surprise. The shepherd pie is huge—two people can share it for lunch and be totally satisfied.
I wanted to try a luxury international dish as well so my guest and I shared an order of Steak Diane. We were truly blown away. There was at least a pound of tender high grade strip steak slices in a single portion and the herb filled brown gravy with a touch of red wine made the flavor factor go through the roof. This is a dish that many baby boomers remember their mother making as a special Sunday dish. I promise you that this will rival your mom’s version even if she is a famous French chef! (As I remember, this dish was originally made famous by Julia Child in the ‘60s and then The Galloping Gourmet gave it a second round of fame in the ‘70s.
The Cheesecake Factory’s affable and helpful manager Cole told me that the Sweet Potato Fries were a very popular side and also one of his favorites so I had to try them for myself. They are actually chunks of sweet potatoes baked with an interesting mix of olive oil, butter, herbs and honey. They are amazing and actually pretty healthy. They are cooked in an oven and roasted as opposed to fried in a pan.
Of course, you can’t leave The Cheesecake Factory without having a slice of cheesecake. First my guest and I shared a slice of the Red Velvet Cheesecake which is alternating layers of red velvet cake and the original Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake with cream cheese frosting on top. Despite what it might sound like, this flavor of cheesecake is not overly sweet. It is one of those desserts that is the best of both worlds—you are getting two classic desserts in one. A slice of Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake is big enough for two to share, by the way. You might need a doggie bag even if you are sharing a slice!
I noticed that the new Coconut Cream Pie Cheesecake has a full page dedicated to it on the current menu plus I love Coconut Cream Pie so I just had to order it! It did not disappoint. It was really kind of like a deconstructed slice of coconut cream pie turned into a layer cake with an Almond Joy layer of pure moist coconut and a layer of pure dark chocolate filling towards the bottom. To give a unique spin, there is a thick layer of yellow custard in the center. The Coconut Cream Pie Cheesecake is accented with a couple of flourishes of fresh whipped cream and toasted coconut flakes. I will be dreaming about this dessert for weeks to come. I finished every bite although my guest did have to grab a couple of bites! (By the way, .25 from every purchase of this particular slice of cheesecake goes to anti-hunger charities.)
I have to say that the service is stellar at the Willowbrook Mall location. David our stellar server gave me the low down on each dish I was interested in very thoroughly. Above you can see him telling me another the Coconut Cream Pie cheesecake slice. David is just one of a thoroughly trained and cordial staff that will make your lunch or dinner perfect. If you want to check out this or any other location, go to www.thecheesecakefactory.com. I will be checking out other locations in the near future but will be back at Willowbrook Mall because the food could not have been more fresh and delicious and the service could not have gone smoother!