Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Cheesecake Factory -- A pleasant combination of expensive and average

For years I've heard coworkers rave about visiting Cheesecake Factory in other cities, and so when I heard one was opening here, I was anxious to visit. I finally got my chance a few weeks ago. Color me unimpressed.

First.... the location. Located in perhaps the worst spot for parking in the entire Mall St. Matthews, Cheesecake Factory occupies the old Fashion Shop / OG Wilson spot. Because it is on the corner right near the Shelbyville Road entrance, EVERYONE wants to park there, guaranteeing it's tough to get near the restaurant at any time. Of course, if you want to, you can valet park next to the restaurant in some of the primo spaces that the valet parkers have commandeered for themselves.

Second.... the decor. A far cry from the basement museum decor of most restaurants with huge menus, Cheesecake Factory looks fancy enough, and the interior was obviously expensive, with custom designed ceilings, seating, and decorations. It's huge, nicely done, and makes the place look fancier than it truly is.

Third.... the menu. It's huge. Ranging from Pizza to Breakfast, the menu covers most everything you would want to eat. In a tacky nod to commerce, the menu features many ads for items and stores unrelated to the Cheesecake Factory. The prices are a bit outrageous. Note the $6.95 for a Grilled Cheese.

Fourth.... the service. The waitstaff was efficient, and worked everyone's tables, not just their own, which definately is a plus. Our waitress was a little too unattentive for lunchtime, when many people want to get in and get out. One thought..... why do they have people wear white? Having waited tables, white is the WORST color because everything shows and you wind up having to buy several outfits a year because you keep ruining everything.

Finally.... the food. There were six of us in our party, and everyone seemed to enjoy what they had. And while the food was certainly acceptable, the prices, in my mind, were not. You're paying for the experience, decor, and probably the rent. My Tomato, Basil, and Cheese pizza was good, but was nothing outstanding compared to other restaurants I've eaten at. My coworker's omelet was good, she said, but she also thought it was nothing special for the price you paid.

Of course, nobody goes to the Cheesecake Factory for just the food, you have to have a Cheesecake. In that respect, I'm still unimpressed. While the volume of cheesecake to choose from is huge, both selections I've had there, the Tiramisu, and White Chocolate Carmel Latte were good, filling, but nothing much better than specialty cheesecakes I've had for far cheaper in other places.

Of course, Louisville loves its high concept restaurants, so I predict that Cheesecake Factory will enjoy a long successful run, at least until the Mall rent goes sky high or the prices kill the people used to a cheap meal at O'Charley's.

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