Last Update
Sep 6th, 2015

The Cheesecake Factory

620 E Las Olas Blvd
Fort Lauderdale FL, 33301
(954) 463-1999
Overall Rating
2.1
Food
Service
Ambiance
Value
Last Review
09/06/2015

Details

Hours: M-Th 11:30am-11:30pm, FriSat: 11:30am-12:30am, Sun 10am-11pm
Dress Code: Casual
Parking: Garage and Street Metered
CC: Yes
Alcohol: Full Bar
Entree Prices: Moderate
Outdoor: Yes
Reservations: No
Delivery: no

Pros

Great Location
Big Restaurant

Cons

Bad Bar Area
Slow Service
Incompetent Food Preparation.

Critic's Review

I was sitting in my office this morning thinking about making some eggs Benedict. I have to be motivated to whisk for 5 minutes, but I felt like I could do it. But they I remembered that I only had 1 egg; I usually make omelet with egg beater but I'd made one yesterday and noted that I needed to buy eggs. I could go to the supermarket, but it was 85 degrees; nice enough to eat outside, so I decided to walk over to the Cheesecake Factory.

There were no people in the big patio section; I think they don't even seat anyone out there. I spotted a table on the sidewalk, so I figured I'd ask for that. Walking inside; they really crank up the AC and I though for a minute about sitting inside. I hate the bar here, and it was dark and uninspiring. So I asked the table outside.

More crowded on the street than a typical summer Sunday; it is labor day tomorrow after all. the railing seats are very close to the narrow sidewalk, so there are plenty of characters walking by. Nobody was smoking outside, it's not even clear if they allow it as there are no ashtrays. Good move if they don't. Smoking is so last century.

The chairs are very uncomfortable; I wonder if they got them in the Suite 100 fire sale. I remember they having bad chairs.

I was sitting for 8 minutes before a server came to take my order. I'd long since decided what I was having; I ordered coffee and the eggs Benedict at the same time. It took 4 minutes to get the coffee. No water was offered; 12 minutes with nothing to drink seems too long.

They have new clear glass cups now, but still the clear glass. I hate them. It just makes the coffee look weak. I don't like the bread here either. Butter in foil. Very classy.

So, I'm reading my phone; no wi-fi BTW, and waiting and waiting. The couple next to me leaves and another sits down; the woman is marveling over each dish, as if every place in town doesn't have stuffed french toast. Meanwhile the dude is polishing the silverware. I mean really polishing. Some people might wipe it before they use it, but this dude was serious. I'm surprised he didn't bring his own.

So my server comes out multiple times. He does everything one at a time. He bring out 1 glass of water, takes 1 order. Leaves 1 tab. I'm just about empty. He comes by 2 more times. Now I am empty. He doesn't notice.

Waiting and waiting. No music or anything in this outside space. They have a sound system on the other side, but it's further for the servers. The fact that this space is opened and the other closed shows that the restaurant is more interested in their own functioning than they are the comfort of their customers.

A runner bring out a plate for a guy at a nearby table. "Carbonara?". She puts down the plate. "The Plate is very Hot", she says. Really? Nothing like a delicate egg/cream source on a scorching hot plate. There are reasons why you don't order things like carbonara in a big chain restaurant.

32 minutes to get my eggs.

Now pinch of cayanne in the hollandaise is a nice touch, but this is nuts. What is that, Paprika?

I asked him to get me a refill on my coffee, because he still didn't offer me any. He disappeared once again, when I realized that I had no salt or pepper on the table, and the potatoes were totally unseasoned. Great. Tick. Tock. I almost asked the people at the next table if I could borrow theirs. But I didn't. He came back with the coffee and I asked for salt and pepper. Luckily it didn't take long for him to return with it.

My first thing with Eggs Benedict is to Cut the egg in half and get the yolk oozing over the ham and the muffin. At this point I realized that the butter knife I had could barely cut the muffin. Then I saw the eggs.

Cooked hard. Fantastic. The yolk is the entire point of eggs benedict; the yolk and the hollandaise. My greatest fear was realized when I cut open the 2nd egg.

What a disaster. I was thinking I should have gone to the supermarket and bought some eggs. My server came by to ask how everything was, and I asked for a sharper knife. I STILL couldn't cut through one of the muffins with the steak knife. Talk about your shoe leather.

This was incredibly bad. I was done and waiting for my tab and my server came out 3 times without acknowledging me. Again, one thing at a time. He boxes up some pancakes. Brings out a tab. I put my napkin on top of my plate; a universal signal. Finally he brought out my tab.

Conclusion

There was a time when you couldn't get into the Cheesecake Factory for Sunday Brunch, but those days are over. Partially because every restaurant in town now serves Sunday Brunch, and partially because their Brunch isn't very good. It took over an hour for a 1 course breakfast, which is patently absurd.

Slow service, bad service and incompetently cooked food combine for a 1.5 star experience. Oh, and I almost forgot the uncomfortable chairs.

Review 6/18/14

I found myself on foot with my car out of commission, and I figured I'd have lunch on Las Olas. I went through the options, one by one, and I realized that most of the options aren't very good. Not looking to spend $30 on a lunch steak at Lobster Bar that probably isn't USDA prime, I thought about Big City, a place I've been to 100s of times but never for lunch. Food-wise, Big City is the same as Cheesecake Factory at a higher price. Big portions, mediocre food, questionable recipes. The difference with Cheesecake is that their menu is massive; there are 5x more choices. So CF won the nod.

This time of year, Cheesecake is surprisingly dead. There are too many lunch choices now to support the locals, and you can't eat a 2000 calorie lunch every day. I hate the bar here; they have the little booths for 2 which are comfortable without having to sit in the middle of a big room. I ordered iced tea while I went over their 12 page menu; there's never any whining about lemon in the big chain places.

There's also bread service; they do ask if you want it which is fine.

Butter in foil, and the bread is surprisingly bad for a place that purports to be a bakery. Too much crust and too floury; worse than store italian bread.

The big problem here is deciding what you want. They have some soup and salad and sandwich combos, but they only have the "Soup of the Day", which was some sort of tortilla corn chowder. No way Im ordering something like that at a corporate restaurant. I thought about a salad, and just about had decided on the Gumbo, which is pricey at $17.95. I looked over their "lunch" menu, which is smaller versions of the big plates that nobody can finish. I decided to try the Chicken Romano; a dish I like that "breads" the chicken with Romano cheese instead of breadcrumbs.

Music is bad; they're not helping with the music. Corrine Baily Rae and Michael Kiwanuka followed by bad remakes of "Summer Wind" and "All You Need is Love". Re-recording Beatles songs should be illegal. With some Aretha Franklin and "Under the Boardwalk" mixed in; there's no sense to the mix.

My server was attentive without being annoying; a combination that wins a 20%+ tip every time. Food came out pretty quickly.

At first glance, I thought maybe he made a mistake; I expected 1 piece of chicken instead of 2 with the "lunch" version, which is $11.95 instead of $17.95. But the trick is that the chicken is very thin, so my guess is that the dinner cut is double this thickness. With a mound of pasta, it was plenty of food for lunch. It needed salt, but it was as good as anything I'd expect to get on Las Olas. Decent "pink" sauce, and the pasta was cooked properly. The parsley sprig, of course, is just embarrassing. Why not just leave it off?

Overall, a good value for under $15 in a very pleasant setting, despite the music.

They always offer you dessert here, but who has room for cheesecake after eating these portions?

Unfortunately, a Top Pick for lunch on Las Olas.

Review 11/1/13

Pressed for time and determined to use the $5 remaining on a gift card I'd gotten from AMEX Rewards, I threw on some clothes and dragged myself down to the Cheesecake Factory, which I can see quite clearly from my living room.

This is a pretty fancy place; nicer than the one in Boca I think; with lots of marble and granite. No waiting on a Friday afternoon.

Unfortunately, the bar here doesn't measure up. I don't like hanging out in here; it's just not comfortable.

The TVs are always on some random sports channel; today with the LAX shooting making news; there was no interest to put it on when I mentioned it. The Cheesecake Factory fits the Fort Lauderdale model of LaLa land, where world events are someone else's problem.

I was just trying one of the new items on their "Small Plates" menu, which seemed to irritate my server. You get bread here, even at the bar.

Surprisingly, it's not very good bread. Considering that this place is supposed to be a bakery of sorts, it should be better. I didn't like the dark bread at all; it was too sweet. The white bread was edible.

I ordered the "Fire-Roasted Chile Rellenos"; something new and one of my favorite Mexican items. I figured for $5.95 I might just get one; but when it came out it seemed like a pretty good portion for the price.

The crispy batter was unusual; it didnt really stick to the peppers. I cut one open, as what's inside is the key to this dish.

I was surprised that the filling had the consistency of heavy creme; they weren't particularly hot so it's not like it was real melted cheese. They call it house-made Jack, but it was more like a "crema" than cheese. Kind of spicy and not a bad taste, but not gooey Jack cheese like I expected.

When i cut into the second chile, I was surprised that it was completely empty. Say what? I'm not sure if the "cheese" ran out or they just forgot to fill it?Or maybe the second one is supposed to be empty? I don't know. It was pretty disappointing.

After the disappointed Baja Chicken Hash I had, I'd have to say avoid the Mexican/Southwest stuff here.

Review 8/21/13

When they opened a cheesecake factory in Westbury Long Island, my ex Sister In Law always wanted to go there for Sunday Brunch; it was the in-thing for Long Island Jews to do for some reason. I didn't care much about restaurants in those days. and I never went. It was a couple of years before I even knew that you could get food there other than cheesecake and coffee.

As my tastes evolved, the Cheesecake factory was still never on my radar. I live close to this location on Las Olas, but it was probably 3 years before I ever went in. I went in for brunch once before; I sat at the bar and it was a pretty good experience. But the Cheesecake Factory is where people who don't go out to eat much go when they go out to eat. You have to know that coming in.

I had no intention of going to the Cheesecake Factory for brunch today, but I was out walking the boulevard and stopped by to look at their menu, which they have displayed on the outside wall. I noticed that they have hanger steak and eggs. As I walked east on Las Olas I kept thinking about it, and I decided to stop in on my way back. Since it was a pretty nice morning in May, I opted to eat outside. This location has 2 outdoors options; you can either sit on the sidewalk right on Las Olas, or you can sit on the patio facing Shanahan House. I got a table on the patio.

There was a time when outdoor dining was a pure delight, but in recent times it's become a place where smokers and those who dine with dogs hang out, so it's not nearly as appealing. Luckily there were no smokers near me; they don't even have ashtrays on the tables so they don't encourage it. There were, however, a lot of dogs, and pidgeons scattered about the patio.

Yes, that's a baby carriage. Ok, well they were pretty cute dogs and they were pretty well behaved, so they didn't bother me as much as the birds. I really don't like birds.

A server whisked by and said she'd be over shortly; sort of a little tease. When she did, I ordered the hanger steak medium rare and 2 over easy, with potatoes and rye toast. No rye, once again. Only white and wheat. A big time bakery like this should have better bread. Of course I got the standard setup, which includes 2 kinds or bread; it's just not the kind of bread that I want with eggs. I asked if they had a brunch deal on mimosas; just a "no" response. Ok, well how much are they and how big is the glass? $7.95. Do they come in a little champagne glass or a big glass? She couldn't (or wouldn't) tell me the size of the glass. Ok, I'm not going to pay $8 for a splash of cheap champagne with OJ, so I ordered coffee. Not exactly the hard sell here.

It took way too long to get the coffee. Again, the dreaded clear mug. What is this, 1995?

While waiting I was treated to a jumble of music that started with Ce Matin La and finished with April in Paris; in between was a bad remake of Lennon's Imagine by Avril Lavigne; why do they remake classic songs? I want to hear Avril Lavigne singing Imagine about as much as I want to hear Yellow Submarine done by Smashmouth. A runner finally dropped off the food.

Now I like my meat medium rare and leaning rare is OK, but this was what I call hopelessly rare. I couldn't eat this. So I flagged down my server and gave her the bad news. The standard offer here is that they'll either throw it back on the grill or remake the entire dish; since I didn't want cold or reheated eggs, I opted for the full redo. A manager came over and apologized; the whole thing was handled properly. A second try came out in about 10 minutes, interrupting a mellowing rendition of Banana Pancakes

They tried to butter me up with some wilted parsley as garnish, but I was having none of it. I think it's fairly obvious from the pictures that they didn't actually give me another piece of meat. This was clearly cooked after it was sliced, and the number of slices, the size of the slices and the sear marks are the same. Throwing it back on the grill would have been fine, but don't pretend that you're making me a new steak when you're not. It was also sliced with the grain, which is wrong; tougher cuts of meat like skirt, flank and hanger should be sliced across the grain to break down the fibers and tenderize the meat. It's about what I expect at the Cheesecake Factory, but just because they don't have master chefs doesn't mean that they can't at least be taught some basic skills.

I sliced the big slices across the grain and it was just fine; the potatoes didn't really do much for me. The salt shakers were completely useless; they were just filled with a big clump of what appeared to be kosher salt (although it could have just been bloated table salt). After several attempts to unclog the shaker, I just dumped some on a plate and salted my food with the chef-pinch technique. Rice in shakers looks bad, but it really does work.

Service outside was clunky. Either my server had too many tables or she was overmatched. Nothing went smoothly; it just didn't seem well organized. Every time she passed by she asked if I needed something, but when I did she was never around.

I'm never quite sure why people love this place so much, unless it's just the big portions. There was a time not so long ago that this was the only brunch on Las Olas other than the Hotel (which is always too packed on weekends), but now with Yolo, Big City Tavern and Foxy Browns serving brunch; there are other, more interesting choices in the area at about the same price point.

Review 5/20/12

This is one of the nicest cheesecake factories you'll ever go to. Its all marble and granite and usually packed, at least in-season. The large portions and friendly atmosphere make it a favorite with tourists. The crowds flow outside; luckily you'll be waiting right on Las Olas so there's lots of people watching available.

They've recently installed an awning (12/2012), so you can now eat outside when it's drizzling without getting too wet.

The have a small bar up front, a large dining room and two outdoor areas; one set of tables along the boulevard, and another outdoor patio dining area a bit recessed from the street and close to the river.

Their menu is massive and they seem to add items every month; there are really too many choices; and then each choice has more choices. I wanted to check out their brunch as both Yolo and Big City have been pushing their brunches, and I hadn't been to a Cheesecake Factory brunch in many, many moons.

Brunch is served from 10am-2pm; I got in about 1:55 and there was no problem. They're a little bit flexible with the time, but once they put away the egg poachers and hollandaise sauce that's the end. I'd decided on the crab hash before I left the condo.

The prices here are about the same as BC and Yolo, but you get twice as much food. I got a basket of "house" bread and some coffee, which came in the dreaded clear glass cup. I'm not sure why, but coffee always looks weaker when it comes in clear glass. Marissa behind the bar is the epitome of competence; she deftly handled the bar and service bar and had complete knowledge of the massive menu. Aside from a faux pas where she offered ketchup for my eggs AFTER learning I was from NY, she was flawless.

Cheesecake is very busy on Sunday so I wouldn't say that my order came out quickly; it took a while but not too long. They give you a lot of food here.

The crab hash is a good portion and you can get hash browns or tomato slices with it; I'm on my cheat day so to hell with tomatoes. I didn't realize how much it was until I was about 2/3rds done and I was getting full. I'd had a couple of pieces of bread, so the sum total of everything was a lot of food. The crab hash was pretty good; nothing to drool over but satisfying. The poached eggs were overcooked; the yolks were completely cooked and the hollandaise wasn't very good either; in fact I hardly noticed it was there. Not very lemony; just a benign yellow sauce. I'm glad I didn't go for the straight Eggs Benedict. This is a place to go for a lot of food; not good execution.

Another brunch didn't do so well, you can read about it here. It's a clear illustration of how your experience can be very different depending on what you order and how good your server is.

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Mike
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As a neighborhood local, I can confirm this Cheescake location has really gone downhill. Lousy food quality last couple visits, and then a week ago I ordered a take out that should have had chicken breast pieces - it was devoid of almost any chicken and there was a piece of a wing with a BONE in it! I was so infruiated i called a manager who apologize and vowed to "get to the bottom of it". He sent me a gift card I'll likely never use. Bad news over there - corporate needs to clean house at this location and start over. It used to be good.

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