Monday, June 18, 2007
Chain Dining: The Cheesecake Factory
As any parent of a young child knows, restaurant choices are automatically narrowed down for parents based on how kid-friendly a place is. After two years of dining out with a small child, I have now culled from the chain-restaurant menus certain favorites so that as soon as we are seated and before drink orders are even taken, we are ready to order; this is all part of parental strategic dining in the event the child has a meltdown and a quick exit needs to be made. I've decided to share these here over time as part of the "Restaurants" section. Some of the choices are obvious, others may be a little surprising. Needless to say, these choices can be enjoyed sans child, probably even more so. Let's start with the Cheesecake Factory.
There is no kids' menu at the Cheesecake Factory, which works out just as well; due to the enormous portions doled out at this restaurant, there's no shortage of food when we share with our two-year old. They do bring a small plate with sliced bread and bananas for your child that our daughter always seems to enjoy.
Simply roasted artichokes served with two dips; a vinaigrette and aoli. I usually fill up on this quickly so I usually just add a small side salad to accompany this and that would be my meal. Wet towels are brought to clean up the messy fingers. Pseudo-healthy.
Avocado Eggrolls (shown)
An all-time favorite. Sundried tomatoes and avocados in a crispy wrapper with an even more delicious sweet dipping sauce. Definitely not so healthy, but very very good.
Firecracker Salmon Rolls
Slightly more refined in its preparation than the Avocado Eggrolls, the wrapper is a lot thinner and crisper, and it's served with a side of red cabbage doused with an Asian dressing of some kind. A little bit lighter fare than the Avocado Eggrolls, but delicious.
Chicken Madeira (shown)
An all-around favorite at the Factory and is usually served with mashed potatoes, although you can request a substitute; I usually pick broccoli to assuage the guilt.
Served on a bed of white rice with a few obligatory snow peas scattered about, the salmon is very tender and tasty.
Portobello Mushroom Burger
I am not a vegetarian, but a friend of mine introduced me to this incredibly tasty "burger" a few years back. Essentially, picture a burger but with a large portobello mushroom sandwiched between the buns; the aioli used on the burger really sweetens the deal.
As for dessert, well, we usually are so stuffed that we pass, but if it's a special occassion, the Vanilla Bean cheesecake is an all-time favorite.