Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Cheesecake Factory - Las Olas

I'm breaking one of my own rules as I write this. When I started this blog, I set two simple rules for myself:

-No reviews on chain restaurants.
-No reviews on places where I work or have worked in the past.

The first rule was to encourage me to look for places outside of my comfort zone and that chains tend to be the same across the country. The second was to avoid obvious conflicts of interest. I'm breaking rule #1 today because this was a somewhat different experience for me, and as I've been neglecting this blog, this is as good an entry as any.

My family and I had lunch at The Cheesecake Factory on Las Olas Blvd. I've been to this particular location a couple of times before for dinner, but with a small group of friends. This time, I had with me both parents and two younger brothers, ages 11 and 13.

As a group of 5, we usually have to wait a long time to get a table at any restaurant, but this time we were seated in about two minutes. I thought that this would be a good sign.

We had plenty of time to look around and admire the interior. There's a definite Mediterranean motif that I've grown used to, but looks different in the bright light of day than it does during the dinner hours. Unfortunately, the fact that we had so much time to admire our surroundings says something about our service.

To be fair, it was a very busy hour for the restaurant and almost every table was full. That's the only concession that I will give to our waiter. While he didn't completely forget about our table how busy his section was, he was withdrawn and almost mumbling the entire time he served us, and couldn't even be bothered to crack a smile. I got a strong impression that he didn't want to be working today, which could be true but is not something that you want the guests to know.

This waiter seemed to be much more attentive to the table of two attractive women across the aisle from us, while forgetting to bring us bread and butter at the start. Again, this is another weakness that you don't want to show to your guests. If you let the big family of five catch you flirting with the cute girls nearby while otherwise showing little personality, at the very least you’re going to miss out on a bigger tip.

Our food also took a long time to come out of the kitchen, but I’m not going to complain about that. Considering how busy the place was today, the cooks in the back were no doubt swimming in orders and going as fast as they could. In a rush like that, nobody is slacking off.

I ordered the bleu cheese BLT burger, cooked medium. I liked it, but I’ll confess that it wasn’t the best burger I’ve ever had. It had very little bleu cheese crumbles on it and an exceptional amount of grease. Even with the beef and bacon, some of that grease could have at least been drained off. One of my brothers ordered a pulled pork sandwich, from which I stole a bite. I should’ve ordered that instead: the sandwich was made up of big chunks of pork instead of the usual shredded variety, with a good amount of sauce without it drowning.

For dessert, I shared the Limoncello cream torte with my mother. We got a HUGE slice of cake with macerated strawberries and whipped cream. Despite the size, it was light enough for us both to finish even though we already had plenty to eat. My favorite was the mascarpone cream filling: it wasn’t too sweet and it tasted more like a dense whipped cream. If I had just a bowl of that for dessert, I would’ve been happy.

In the end, our waiter was given a tip of less than 10%, because his general lack of personality was so off-putting. A smile goes a long way, folks!

The Cheesecake Factory on Urbanspoon

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