Cheesecake Factory

Written by on May 7, 2011 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

(thecheesecakefactory.com) – Clarendon neighborhood, Arlington, Virginia

How I heard of this place: The first time I learned of the Cheesecake Factory was from my sister, Mojgan, years ago. In fact, she also first introduced me to this particular branch when I visited her in the Courthouse neighborhood on one of my many visits to Washington, DC.

Type of cuisine: A typical corporate-style chain establishment, with a variety of options including pizzas, salads, burgers, and pastas in flavors inspired by Mexico, Italy, North America,and beyond.

Cheesecake

Ambiance: A large establishment, with high ceilings, yellowed walls and decorative glass light fixtures, both hanging from the ceiling and on the walls.

Cheese Factory

Dark brown, wooden backed booths and chair-table seating (in the bar as well) can be found throughout the small spaces created in the venue. Music plays in the background on this evening, sometimes loudly, as the hustle and bustle of restaurant spaces can be heard and felt. Patrons are not shy to speak to their dining companions aloud, but rarely do conversation topics make it to the neighboring tables. The staff, clad in white jeans and button-up shirts, white aprons and shoes are never far away, very friendly and eager to please. At the entrance, like other Factories, hostesses smile behind a large wood and granite slab-lined podium, awaiting the name and number in your party. As you wait for your name to be called, one can visit the cheesecakes and seven-layer cakes on display at the take-away counter, or make your selections for dessert! The tiled floor always sparkles with shine, as your party is guided to its seats. Tall, green plants create a sense of nature in an otherwise dimly-lit, modern-Romanesque setting. Windows along the front side of the establishment look out over the beach, and the beautiful summer sky as it changes from blue to orange to pink with the setting sun.

What I ordered: Upon being seated, my dining companion and I knew that we were going to end our week of 100% raw foods only with the infamous: Buffalo Blasts ($9.95). We ordered the seven fried Buffalo Blasts, a new favorite, which include chicken, cheese and spicy buffalo sauce all stuffed in a spiced wrapper and fried until crisp, served with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing.

Buffalo Blasts

For our main entrees, Atlantic salmon sounded perfect, so each of us ordered it off of the lunch menu. I selected an Herb Crusted Salmon ($12.95) with red-skinned mashed potatoes and asparagus in a creamy lemon-butter sauce. My dining companion, the Simply Grilled Salmon ($12.95) with mashed potatoes and four large spears of asparagus. My dining companion also ordered a Fresh Lemonade ($3.95), sweet and tart, with a ring of sugar on the cups rim.

On a return visit (in Seattle), Saturday, 11 June 2011: A few friends and I made our way to the Cheesecake Factory after a day of visiting the Seattle Aquarium and shopping downtown. On this visit, I ordered the BBQ Salmon dinner special ($14.95) with broccoli and mashed potatoes. The dining companion seated next to me, selected the Monerey Cheeseburger ($10.95) and ended her meal with a decaf coffee ($2.95). Our third dining companion ordered a Strawberry Lemonade ($4.50) to start, her regular Chicken Madeira ($16.95), and a Fresh Banana Cream Cheesecake ($6.95) with a side of decaf coffee to end the meal ($2.95). Her eight-year-old daughter ordered the appetizer version of the Roadside Sliders ($8.50), four sliders with a side of fries, Deluxe ($1). The always bustling, full, yet large, open establishment with tall ceilings is bedazzled with the same ornamentation of other Cheesecake Factories around the country, with yellowed walls, intricate glass light fixtures and wicker seats at the bar, dark wooden, tall-backed booths all around.

On a return visit, Monday, 21 January 2013: Chris and I returned to the Cheesecake Factory on our way back from the 57th Presidential Inauguration at the National Mall in Washington, DC, and after a 3-mile walk, to satisfy his craving for Buffalo Blasts ($10.95), for chicken, cheese and spicy buffalo sauce, stuffed in a spiced wrapper and fried until crisp, served with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing. One appetizer and two orders of Fresh Grilled Salmon ($14.95 each), served with mashed potatoes and broccoli

Salmon with Broccoli

($1 more for the asparagus that my husband requested), and we were set for a lunch-dinner of champions!

Salmon with Asparagus

What I loved: The spicy buffalo blasts, served samosa style were crispy, slightly hot with the buffalo sauce and tempered with the blue cheese in a thick ranch-flavored dip. The salmon, soft and tender, light, flaky and fresh, paired well with the creamy, buttered mashed potatoes. The asparagus drenched in a puddle of lemon-butter sauce were savored until the last bite.

Why I loved it: The lunch portions were reasonable and filling and the food consistently good. You know what you are going to get at the Cheesecake Factory, and I have never been disappointed.

Cheese Factory Booth

Cost: Average to high ($9.95-$19.95 per lunch entree)

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