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. jump-->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.
Cheesecake Factory Iced Tea
There's also bread service; they do ask if you want it which is fine.
Cheesecake Factory Bread Service
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.>
Cheesecake Factory Lunch Chicken Romano
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?
Cheesecake Factory Cake Sales Area
Unfortunately, a Top Pick for lunch on Las Olas.
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.
Cheesecake Factory Fort Lauderdale Lobby
Unfortunately, the bar here doesn't measure up. I don't like hanging out in here; it's just not comfortable.
Cheesecake Factory Fort Lauderdale Bar Area
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.
Cheesecake Factory Bread
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.
Cheesecake Factory Chile Rellenos
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.
Cheesecake Factory Chile Rellenos Close
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.
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.>
Cheesecake Factory Awning
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.
Cheesecake Factory Crab Hash
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.
Sunday Brunch at the Cheesecake Factory (05/20/2012)
The Cheesecake Factory 5530 Glades Rd Boca Raton FL, 33431 (05/14/2011)