The Cheesecake Factory, Winter Park, FL - a Consumer Review
When Your First Arrive
Recently my friends Tom and Mary treated me to lunch as a belated birthday celebration. Mary suggested The Cheesecake Factory. Neither Tom nor I had ever eaten there, so this was a treat and an anticipated outing. We arranged to meet at noon on Sunday.
The exterior of the building is very inviting and quite impressive. Once you enter, the interior presence is magnificent. The ceilings are quite high and painted with beautiful murals. The floors are laid with Spanish tiles and interesting columns stand guard throughout the restaurant. The overall décor impressed me. It’s sort of Mediterranean, which is a style of architecture and design I prefer.
We had no reservations but were seated within 5 minutes. This gave us ample opportunity to ogle the strategically placed dessert window, which features over 60 variations of delectable cheesecakes.
The maitre d’ led us to our table where we were immediately greeted by our server and handed menus. We were there in time for brunch, which is served every Sunday from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Our server was gracious enough to tell us the page numbers on which we could find the lunch and brunch items. Considering the menu is a hard-back, spiral bound book of over 30 pages, the guidance was much appreciated.
I have a habit of cheating when I’m going to an unfamiliar restaurant; I check out the menu online beforehand, which is exactly what I did the night before. I knew what I wanted before we even arrived. We placed our orders and set about catching up since we hadn’t seen each other since the prior October.
After several minutes the maitre d’ stopped by to apologize for the wait as the Hollandaise machine (?) was down, but the problem had been remedied. We didn’t notice or mind the wait as we were very busy going over photos of Tom and Mary’s recent trip to South Africa. However, it was impressive that the staff takes such good care of their guests.
Our meals arrived and Tom said Grace, as is customary when you dine with Tom and Mary. I actually find it comforting holding hands with friends and taking a moment to thank God, no matter where you are.
Mary ordered the Santa Fe Salad which is lime-marinated chicken, fresh corn, black beans, cheese, tortilla strips and tomatoes served over a mound of fresh mixed greens. Peanut-cilantro vinaigrette is served in an elegant silver gravy boat on the side.
Tom had the Monte Cristo Sandwich which is crunchy French toast stuffed with bacon, grilled ham, scrambled eggs and Swiss cheese. The top of the sandwich is dusted with powdered sugar and served with strawberry preserves. Tom chose sliced tomatoes over potatoes as his side.
I ordered the Crab Hash. I just love breakfast and order it whenever it’s available. This is actually The Cheesecake Factory’s twist on Eggs Benedict, although they offer that as well. Instead of the customary English muffin as the base for poached eggs, the eggs are served over a bed of sautéed crab, red, yellow and green peppers, onions and fried potatoes. Each poached egg was topped with a lump of crab meat and finished with a very light, delicious Hollandaise sauce. I, too, opted for sliced tomatoes as my side dish. The meal was surprisingly light, not greasy at all and very pleasing to the taste buds.
All three of our meal choices were delicious. The portions are huge, so Tom and Mary had enough to take home for lunch the next day. I ate just about all of mine; after all you can’t really ‘huge up’ poached eggs! Prices are fair, especially for the portion sizes. Our meals were in the $10 to $13 range.
I’m sad to say, I cannot report on the cheesecake. We were all so full after our meals, ordering dessert was out of the question. However, later that night I sure wish I’d had the forethought to order a piece to go!
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Not only is the service impeccable and the food exquisite, but the philosophy of The Cheesecake Factory is commendable. They actively participate in charitable events “to help improve the lives of those around us”, as can be found in their mission statement. Additionally, The Cheesecake Factory is environmentally conscious. The take out bags are made of recycled material and are developed to start biodegrading within one year. All of their paper products, including napkins are made of recycled material. Their take-out containers are also made of recyclable material. They buy only American made products and donate any left over food to Harvest Programs on a nightly basis.
Overall, this restaurant is one I will gladly frequent, when possible. The atmosphere is elegant, yet not imposing. The service and all staff members are friendly, attentive and very professional. The food is outstanding. On top of all that, The Cheesecake Factory is active in preserving Mother Earth. Who could ask for more?
Shauna L Bowling
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© 2013 Shauna L Bowling
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