Thursday, November 26, 2009

Restaurant Review - The Cheesecake Factory, Mall of Millenia, 4200 Conroy Road, Orlando, FL

For the first time in its history, The Cheesecake Factory has developed a kids menu. The new menu was released in September, and offers kid-friendly food, including a drink, for $4 - $7. There are a lot of offerings including pasta, mini-burgers, grilled cheese, quesadillas, mac-n-cheese, chicken strips, pizza, and others.
To match, the adult menu is huge, as well. It is almost like a catalog and even has advertisements (I kid you not). To break down your decision, you should first decide what kind of food you want: American, Italian, Mexican, Asian, etc. Then, you can decide whether you want an appetizer, a salad, a sandwich or a main meal. Yep, they have all of that and more.

While deciding, we munched on the sour dough and pumpernickel breads our server brought us. And truly, we had to send the server away twice until we finally decided what to get.

On our first visit, Grandpa ordered the Beef Ribs ($25.95), a very large plate of beef ribs served with fries and onion rings. While he agreed there was a lot of food and the taste was okay, he wasn't sure if it was worth the high price. Grandma, who clearly had her eye on the cheesecake display case, ordered a Margherita Pizzette ($4.95), basically a small, oval pizza, with large chunks of mozzerella and slivers of basil. She thought it was the perfect size for a pizza snack. I had the Fresh Fish Tacos ($14.95), an extremely large platter with three tacos, rice, black beans, and salsa and guacamole on the side. It was very messy to eat, with pieces of grilled fish and cabbage falling out constantly, but it was wonderful. There was a lot of fish per taco and the spicy avocado cream gradually increased in spiciness the more I ate. I was only able to finish two of the tacos and make only a small dent in the rice and beans.

BB ordered the kids pasta with alfredo sauce ($6.95), while LB and my two nieces ordered the kids mini-corn dogs with fries ($5.95). The pasta was a good size and my son was only able to eat a little over half of the serving. The corn dogs came as three skewers of the dogs, covered with corn meal, and a large serving of fries. I don't exactly know what made these dogs "mini" because, although they were shorter than normal, they were pretty thick. All three kids were only able to eat two of the skewers.

On another visit, all of us decided to try the Factory Appetizer Favorites ($28.95) as our shared meal, which is a very large version of an appetizer sampler. LB decided to get the kids mini-corn dogs again which was a good decision as I don't know how much of the appetizers he would have wanted to eat. That left four of us (Grandma, Grandpa, BB, and me), which worked out well as each appetizer came with four pieces. Four separate dishes arrived holding the Quesadillas, Pot Stickers, Summer Rolls, Calamari, Buffalo Blasts, Corn Cakes, Spinach & Artichoke dip, Avocado Eggrolls, and all of the associated sauces. The big winners were the Avocado Eggrolls (creamy/crunchy goodness), Pot Stickers (very flavorful), Corn Cakes (sweet and spicy all together), and Calamari (delicate, not chewy). No one really liked the Summer Rolls, cold rice wrappers filled with noodles. It was a good way to sample many of the appetizers, but it really wasn't enough food to be a meal for all four of us. The plus side is that left room for dessert!

Of course, you can't go to The Cheesecake Factory without getting cheesecake, right? They typically have between 20 and 30 cheesecakes available, with some seasonal selections as well. Slices are $6.75 to $7.95. The slices might look small, but they are very rich and I suggest sharing. We ordered a slice of the 30th Anniversary Chocolate Cake Cheesecake ($7.50) and a slice of Adam's Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake ($6.95) on our first visit, and the seasonal Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake on our second visit. The 30th Anniversary cake has a layer of cheesecake along with chocolate cake and a fudge layer. It ended up as the overall favorite. The peanut butter one was super rich and had cheesecake swirled with caramel, peanut butter, and peanut butter cups. I absolutely loved the Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake - it was my personal favorite. I was expecting pumpkin cheesecake with pecans in it. Nope, it was even better. It was a pumpkin cheesecake ON TOP OF a pecan pie. A double decker pie - two pies in one! The creamy cheesecake went great with the ooey gooey pecan pie. We will definitely be back to tackle more of the menu and try more of the cheesecakes.

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