I remember the first time I had Cheesecake factory. I was around 12, and my mom brought home a to-go box stuffed with angel haired pasta, tomato sauce, and big juicy shrimp. I twirled my fork around and took a bite, and my taste buds awakened at that moment. I kept shoveling pasta into my mouth, it was that good. Cheesecake Factory, as well as their sister restaurant Grand Lux Café, soon became a favorite for many years and a place that held many memories. It was the first choice for a family dinner night, and it was where I celebrated many birthdays, whether it was mine, my sister’s, or a friend’s. In high school I would be so excited to eat here with my group of friends, because my high school crush would also be there. I would have phases where I would have a favorite dish and order that every time I ate there. First was the Angel hair pasta. Then it was shepherd’s pie, then the ahi tuna salad. Don’t even get me started on the first time I had the strawberry cheesecake. To. Die. For.
As I got older and my dining choices expanded, I just didn’t go to the Cheesecake Factory as much as I used to. A group of friends and I have had this tradition where we reunited each year on Cheesecake day to catch up (and get ½ price cheesecake), but in recent years we decided to try other places.
So when the Cheesecake Factory invited me and a friend to have dinner, I was glad to accept. Sometimes, it’s good thing to go back to basics, to take a trip down memory lane and revisit where you started. Looking back, the Cheesecake Factory kick started my taste buds and began the whole “live to eat” mentality that I live by. It was where I fell in love with the ritual of eating- breaking bread (literally and figuratively) with friends and family, enjoying delicious food and fascinating conversation.
My friend and I met at the Cheesecake Factory in the Houston Galleria. We were warmly greeted by everyone and promptly seated. Looking through the menu, I always forget how massive their menus are. It always makes deciding what to eat very difficult, because everything sounds tasty and mouthwatering. People are often weary of restaurants with large menus, because this equates to the restaurant taking shortcuts, often sacrificing quality for quantity in order to support the large number of choices. However, this isn’t the case for the Cheesecake Factory. Over 250 dishes are made from scratch, right in the restaurant’s kitchen. And you can taste it. Definitely not something that was crammed into a microwave, that’s for sure. They have something for everyone. For the health conscious, there are lots of fresh options that are low in calorie and won’t make you feel like you need to be physically rolled back to your car.
To start, I ordered an appetizer that is a family favorite- the fried calamari. The fried mac n’ cheese may be the most popular appetizer ever, but it’s the calamari that gets my vote. The crispy batter to calamari meat ratio is always perfect, and it’s never chewy or tough to eat. There’s lots of flavor, so it would do well with just a squeeze of lemon, but I love dipping the fried nuggets of calamari into the garlic aioli that it comes with. It’s addicting, and I always have to pace and remind myself that there is more food to come, and that I shouldn’t fill up on fried squid. Although that’s not such a bad thing, to be quite honest.
Our entrées arrived shortly after I had convinced myself to stop eating the calamari. I ordered the chicken and biscuits (needed some comfort food after a day of jet lag) and my friend ordered the hibachi steak. The chicken and biscuits was the epitome of comfort food- tender chicken, vegetables, a flavorful gravy, and fluffy biscuits to soak up everything. My friend’s steak was perfectly cooked and tender, surrounded by colorful sautéed vegetables.
For dessert, we ordered the white chocolate raspberry cheesecake and since it was now Fall, and I am obsessed with all thinks pumpkin spice- it was required that I order the pumpkin cheesecake. No regrets here. Combine a pumpkin pie with a cheesecake, and you get this wonderful dessert. And guilty as charged, I also ordered my favorite- strawberry. You can’t go wrong with the classics!
So folks, if you’re ever in need of some delicious food, perhaps it’s time to visit the Cheesecake Factory in your neighborhood. You never know what your next favorite dish will be, and if anything else, there is always cheesecake. Can’t go wrong with that.
*This post was made possible thanks to The Cheesecake Factory.