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Juniors Cheesecake: How does it rate today?

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  • MarkG Oct 6, 2007 01:07 PM
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it used to be considered the best or one of

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  1. Very true... Unfortunately, it is now unbearably sweet with a gluey texture.
    Try the cream cheese cheesecake at Angelo's Bakery on 86th St and 25th Ave in Bensonhurst. You have to specify cream cheese or they'll give you Italian style.
    It's rich and decadently creamy without being cloyingly sweet.. While you're making the trip, take home a Lobster Tail filled with french cream. The cannoli cream is too heavy for such a large pastry.

    21 Replies
    1. re: Tay

      Junior's Cheesecake is still exactly the same as it was 50 years ago. The same recipe is used, the same quality ingredients, and still baked in the same ovens.

      In every contest rating Cheesecake, Junior's always wins first prize.

      1. re: Fleur

        If that's the case and Juniors is the same, then Juniors has been lapped by many other bakers including myself in my own kitchen. Certainly, Eileens is better, S&S always was. As Tay said, Juniors now has an in-authentic taste. I frankly don't believe the ingredients are the same, though they may say so. They include stabilizers now to increase shelf life (and therefore profit) that has a direct bearing on taste. In fact, so many bakers do this that it is becoming impossible to find an old fashioned New York bakery taste.

        1. re: addictedtolunch

          WIth sincere respect to Fleur's opinion, I'd have to agree that it's probably the addition of some sort of preservatives that has adversely affected Junior's cheesecake. That and prehaps as you mentioned, the quality of specific ingredients, EG: The cream cheese. The texture as well as the taste/aftertaste. is just less appealing. I'd also agree that it's becoming more difficult to find that fresh, "non chemicalized" (a made up, albeit good descriptive word) bakery goodness. There are still many mom and pop bakeries that make their baked goods in small daily batches but I imagine their profits are growing smaller and that the next generation will not be carrying on their parent's traditions. Just the other day I had some cookies from a local bakery and I was stunned at how fresh and delicious they were.
          I also think sometimes we become influenced by past reputation and long time tradition. We want something to taste the same, because it connects us with a different time. Junior's is probably rated #1 because of name recognition and tradition. I had that experience at Nathan's. As much as I wanted it to be/taste the same and as much as it's hyped to be the same ,the food is just not the same as it was when I was a kid.

          1. re: addictedtolunch

            Junior's Cheescake hardly needs what you call a "shelf life". They are made fresh in their onsite Bakery every day, and sell out every day.

            I am referring to Junior's Restaurant and Bakery on de Kalb and Flatbush, not the online ordering that is shipped.

            1. re: addictedtolunch

              Juniors is still one of the better cheesecakes. S&S from 238th St in Riverdale is by far the best cheesecake I have ever had.

              1. re: irvingk

                irvingk
                Lots of people love Junior's and I say, more power to 'em!
                Everyone has their favorites. My Grandfather used to say
                "That's what makes a horse race."

                1. re: Tay

                  Tay
                  I agree with you 100%. When it comes to food everybodys taste is different. So there is no right and wrong. One mans taste might be another mans poison.

                  1. re: irvingk

                    (LOL- sing kumbaya all you want, I still think Juniors' reputation for cheesecake is past its expiration date- but there are certain arguments on this website that have no resolution when it comes to old favorites, because it becomes a personal/emotional thing.).

                    1. re: addictedtolunch

                      It is not a personal thing. Everybody knows what they like and no one can tell you differently. If you don't like a certain product then dont buy it.

            2. re: Fleur

              Fleur...
              WIth all due respect, NOTHING is the same as it was 50 yrs ago. Just the chemical additives alone have made that an impossibility. Junior's now ships all over the country. That would not be possible without the addition of preservatives. I don't fault them. It is, after all, a big business and they have a responsibility to extend shelf life to keep their products safe to eat..
              In a perfect world, it would be lovely if they used a preservative free formula for the local trade, but I imagine from a business perspective, that isn't really practical

              1. re: Tay

                to whom it may concern,
                All of the previous posts are dead on. In order to keep from going under Junior's went on QVC and sold their cheesecakes to the masses...ok so that happens. Everyone and their brother realizes that some brands become recognized for their nostalgia...not the product. There are no national or regional mass produced cheesecakes worth a trip to the freeze aisle or otherwise...the best can still be found @ your local restaurant. Small batch cooking is what Junior's once was and in today's economy it is the unfortunate end result of many thrown into an environment that does not allow for growth without sacrifice on some level. A sad turn considering it is our own doing...rather than quality America has opted for convienence...true on so many fronts of the food industry.

                1. re: fooddood

                  And NOW you are talking about a subject that this whole website avoids in all categories- the changes wrought in all foods over the years, and particularly in baked goods, by the change in core ingredients owing to the desire to stretch shelf life and profitability- be it cream cheese, yeast, frosting, whatever. Eggs are even BRED differently. Nothing tastes "like mother used to make", because unless you have your own farm the ingredients no longer exist in their past chemical form.

                  1. re: addictedtolunch

                    addictedto lunch.
                    You make a very good point. A company would have to have complete control over the entire product, from ingredient start to packaging finish. I don't fault any legit business from making a living, but it would be somewhat nostagically naive for anyone to think that ANYTHING is the same as it was one or two generations ago.

                2. re: Tay

                  I have written many articles about Junior's Restaurant, and their cheesecake.

                  According to the Rosens, the ingredients used at the restaurant's onsite Bakery remain the same, and are no secret.

                  Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese
                  Sugar
                  Eggs
                  Natural Vanilla Extract
                  Heavy Cream
                  Cornstarch

                  No chemicals, no additives, no preservatives.

                  Everything at Junior's Bakery is delicious. Made fresh daily.

                  1. re: Fleur

                    With the exception of sugar, all of those ingredients themselves have had a change over the years in some degree, some more and some less, in their production and packaging for shipment. Also, the proportion of cornstarch can be altered to enhance shelf life.

                    1. re: Fleur

                      Do you happen to know if what they ship is different from what they sell on Flatbush Ave? Other than the effect of time, that is.

                      1. re: pitu

                        pitu
                        I have had both. The Flatbush Ave one was much better. To me the shipped version had a much less appealing, almost chemical taste and the texture was paste-like. When it warmed up a bit it was even worse.. I couldn't eat it. Even The Cheesecake Factory shipped Cheesecake was better, albeit not great.

                        1. re: Tay

                          thx Tay
                          I've only had cakes purchased at Flatbush, so I wondered if that was the difference. I quite like the cheese pie they serve in the restaurant too -- or at least I did ages ago when I was in there more often . . .

                      2. re: Fleur

                        The direct quote from the Junior's site is "We use only the finest of ingredients including Phildelphia® cream cheese, heavy cream, fresh eggs, sugar and vanilla. Most of our regular cheesecakes have a signature sponge cake bottom-because it's a cake, not a pie!!" The items listed may well not be all of the intredients, as witness the use of the word "including," not the word "always." It is entirely possible that good cream cheese is not always used and that the quality of the vanilla, which has skyrocketed in price in recent years, has taken a dive.

                        Maybe they do bake daily at Junior's, but they are not careful about rotating their store stock. On the two occasions in recent years that I have tasted cheesecake from the original Junior's location, it has tasted like the refrigerator.

                        I would go back to Junior's, but not for the cheesecake.

                        1. re: Shayna Madel

                          They used to have pretty good rice pudding with a nice tart strawberry sauce but that was some time ago so I can't say it's still the same...

                    2. re: Fleur

                      "Juniors has been lapped by many other bakers"

                      Basically that is the case with allot of places. Juniors, PL ect. It is not that the old places have changed for the worse. It is that there are many new places that can match their quality.

                  2. I bought two large cheesecaks at Juniors for my swiming team after a bad loss. The cakes were $28 each, not worth the cost. My sister makes better cheesecake, and she's no professional. The cake was indeed good, but not worth the price or the effort to get to Juniors. People are hyped about it as they are about Nathan's hot dogs and Peter Luger's steak.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: son of a butcher

                      son of a butcher: there is nothing like a nathan's hot dog.

                      1. re: nyebaby37

                        nycbaby.
                        I tried to make myself believe that same thing, b/c I really wanted to believe it, but it's just the nostalgia of childhood times spent at Coney Island misleading us. Nathan's is now a multi location fast food franchise . The hot dogs and condiments are the same at every location. Their products are delivered the same as they are at other locations Depending on the demand at any given momment, only the grilling time might vary. If the place isn't too busy, your hot dog might be cooked a little more but that's pretty much it. The old saying of sex being 90% imagination and only 10% reality should be applied to many food experiences as well. It's the experience of the original Nathan's that makes it seem as though there is nothing like a Nathan's hot dog. If you go to, say the Phoenix location and take a bite, you'll get the same taste but not the same experience.

                        1. re: Tay

                          Regarding Nathan's, the hot dogs and condiments are NOT the same at every location. With Nathan's it's hit or miss. The better ones, such as Coney Island and the location at Menlo Park Mall in N.J. use the natural casing Nathan's frank and prepare it on a griddle. Many other Nathan's locations (too many in fact) use the skinless Nathans frank and prepare it on a roller grill. There is a world of difference between one of the skinless franks on a roller grill and a well done natural casing dog prepared the right way on a hot griddle.

                          I will say that with a lot of people nostalgia plays an important part. When people say that a Nathans dog tastes best at Coney Island, it is because for them nostalgia and atmosphere plays a large part. If you find a quality Nathan's location like the Menlo Park Mall, the dogs are just as good as Coney Island. As for the natural casing franks themselves, they are available at certain stores. I have a cheap electric griddle and sometimes buy these dogs to make at home. Nathan's likes to state that their dogs are made to the original 1916 recipe. Although I believe the recipe is the same for the most part (all beef and a blend of spices) I doubt that years ago these franks contained the corn or wheat gluten that you now see on the package label. Nathan's is still a quality all beef dog. I prefer the natural casing dogs from Best Provisions in Newark, N.J. A better (in my opinion) blend of spices. Also less greasy with no fillers.

                      2. re: son of a butcher

                        Nostalgia mixed with marketing is a powerful and very effective combination.

                        1. re: Tay

                          the only time I remotely like Juniors anymore is during the holiday rush when the cakes are slightly underbaked. Otherwise I find them dry and lackluster.

                          They definitely ride on their reputation. I was at a food exhibition sponsored by the Queens Economic Development Authority in the spring and they won first place for desserts even though there were bakeries with better products.

                          hey McDonalds is popular too. Sad to say but the average american taste is right out of a box or the freezer these days. That' swhat makes sites like chowhound invaluable for those of us with taste buds for "artisan" and made from love food...

                          1. re: tigerwoman

                            The Chamber of Commerce type folks are no dummies. They know that, like Nathan's, Peter Lugars, etc, these NY "institutions" are big tourist draws.They make for increased business and that's good news for the City.
                            Trade shows will continue to keep the old stars in the limelight.
                            Apparently we can't count on our sports teams to promote good buzz.:-}
                            I'm all for anything that will increase revenue for local shops, including those still enjoying the benefits of a past earned reputation. It's not as though their cheesecake is bad. I't's just no longer great

                        2. re: son of a butcher

                          What, pray tell, do you buy the team after a win?

                          1. re: Polecat

                            Well it so happens that we never win against Brooklyn Tech swimming, so I rewarded them with some cheesecake for a good effort. However, after shelling out $28 for each cake, it was a bit too much to swallow. The cakes are overpriced and nothing more than ordinary. My sister makes better cheescake and she is no professional. I have to agree with Tay that many establilshments ride on their past reputations. The great old time earting places do not need advertising. They exist on their reputation alone. Places such as Difara do not have to advertise, they have the product that people with go out of their way for.
                            By the way, Nathan's does not sell hot dogs, They are franks and the ones in Coney Island taste better because the grill is hotter. Maybe atmosphere counts a bit, but no matter where you eat em, the heartburn is the same

                            1. re: son of a butcher

                              personally, Cascon baking in whitestone is topps, they mostly do wholesale but have a small retail storefront. 149th and 7th i bring my son there every few days for the cookies too lol

                        3. mentioned above - the flatbush version vs. the shipped version. what
                          about the grand central station version and the times square version? are
                          they made fresh on site - or brough in from flatbush - or the same
                          variety as the shipped version?
                          the grand central station isn't bad (just had a slice for a work bday). the times square version was not good at all (and their milkshakes were very liquidy - i think they put too much milk and barely any ice cream - had no thickness to it at all - i was very disappointed).
                          i think i need to finally go out to flatbush.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: atraxia

                            You could probably call the Flatbush Ave location and ask them if they bake for the other locations. I would imagine in all liklihood they bake in Brooklyn and transport over the Bridge.
                            As for the thin milkshake (one of my pet peeves, . Grrr!) Most of the time they just leave it on the blender too long. Try this: Next time you order one, before they make it just let them know you like yours THICK. If it's not, tell them and then ask them to please make you another one. I usually find that if you tell them before thay make it that it matters to you, they get it right. Since I've ben doing that, I've only had to send one back.