Why all the anti-Cheesecake Factory vitriol???
It seems as though there's more negative exchange on this chain than any other & I just don't understand why. First, people complain of the wait & then they complain that the food sucks. If the food sucks so bad, then why is there a wait?
In all honesty, I have to give them props for the fact that they make every single item (save for the desserts) in house. They're not high-end, refined food & we all know that...but I think they do, too.
So, what is it exactly, folks? Why all the hate? Just curious...
I like them too, and all the hate boggles my mind. In fact, they're definitely one of my favorite chains. You might not get five-star gourmet cuisine there, but they're a cut above most (if not all) of the "casual dining" chains. The portions are huge, which for me signifies good value. Even I, big eater that I am, can usually turn an entree into two meals. I don't understand why people say "Wah wah wah, portions are too big, I wish they didn't give me so much food!" Jeez, just take some home -- food often tastes better the next day anyway.
Also, they have enough variety that you can go with a finicky party and everyone can find something to at least tolerate, if not love. It's also a good place to go if you don't know exactly what you're in the mood for. Frankly, I've never had a bad meal there, and some of their dishes are actually really good (Hungarian goulash, I'm looking at you!) Plus, the cheesecake, while expensive, is usually rich enough so that two people can easily share a single slice.
Finally, if you go early enough (as in, not after 6 PM on Friday or Saturday) and avoid December weekends at mall locations, you shouldn't have to wait. I wouldn't wait more than 15 minutes at any restaurant, whether it's Cheesecake Factory or a greasy spoon diner or the French bloody Laundry. If you want to eat there so badly, you can either put up with the occasional wait or just time your meals to avoid the busier times.
On a recent visit to suburbia, we crossed paths with a Cheesecake Factory. I'd never known much about it until reading Chowhound. Of all the chains discussed here, it seemed like CF ignited the most heated passions, which automatically made it seem interesting. (Who isn't drawn to the taboo?)
We eat out fairly regularly, but only hit chains about 10-15% of the time. While I prefer to seek out the local, the ethnic, and the remarkable, I'm not a priori anti-chain. Everyone has their guilty pleasures. Seemed like a visit to CF was worth it just to see what all the war of words are about.
Not much to say about the decor and ambiance -- frankly, whatever, it's a restaurant in a mall. Meets expectations for the environment.
After perusing the menu for approximately 40 minutes trying to narrow things down, we started with the "tex mex eggrolls". An item like this could either be an interesting fusion twist or a hideous abomination.
Truth be told, we really liked them. Interesting combination of ingredients and strong flavors. Decent sized portion for an appetizer. Even the accompanying salsas were decent. Have I had better? Sure. But I've had worse, too, and that's even at certain independent Mexican restaurants.
For mains we tried the Cuban sandwich and some kind of chicken enchiladas things with corn fritter. It doesn't make sense to go into a place like CF expecting their ethnic-titled dishes to resemble authenticity. If it helps, add "-style" in your mind when reading the menu. A Cuban sandwich becomes a "Cuban-style" sandwich. There is a place for this, and CF is the place. Both the sandwich and the enchiladas were satisfying for what they were -- comfortable, accessible versions of these dishes. The best you'll find? Of course not. But to say they were horrible would be a serious exaggeration.
Oh, and I was pleasantly surprised by the 'passionfruit' iced tea. I almost always order iced tea and lament when restaurants don't offer a plain (unsweetened) tea, and only have fruity versions. That said, the passionfruit (unsweetened) turned out to be one of the better iced teas I've had in a restaurant. So there.
Finally, dessert. I'm actually not a big fan of cheesecake. Ordered the chocolate "tower" cake. I think the slice was about as big as my head. When it comes to chocolate, as far as I'm concerned, the more the merrier (I will be). Gotta admit -- the cake beat me -- got about 2/3 through before my fork could shovel no more. Quality? Again, like most of the food here at CF, pretty decent. Best chocolate cake ever? Of course not. Not even going to try to argue that. But a thoroughly satisfying and tremendous hunk of choco to finish off a meal at a reasonable price? Sure.
Verdict: if you've gotta eat a meal in a mall, CF is a good choice. It's not a destination restaurant or a place I'd plan a trip around. But I don't get the Chowhound vitriol either. Sure there are better places for the money, but not necessarily in the mall. There are far worse places, too, both in the mall and otherwise.
Completely agree - very good restaurant chain, foolish complainers. A long time ago I read a published letter from a woman complaining about her husband: "He burns the hair out of his nose with a lit match and he thinks I'm crazy because I voted for Nixon." Lesson learned: everyone's got an opinion and some are sillier than others.
"Lesson learned: everyone's got an opinion and some are sillier than others." As usual, I'm coming to the discussion late but I don't really understand what this is supposed to mean. The OP did solicit opinions, negative and positive I believe from rereading the post. And, I cannot give an opinion on CF just as I can't give an opinion on the TGI Fridays, Bennigans, and Houlihans that have opened in our area in the past few years. We have limited dining out dollars to go around and my personal preference is to spend those dollars at the local places with ties to our community. That is my opinion and I don't find it any sillier than those people who enjoy eating at chain restaurants.
To answer Hooda: The common issue that connects Chowhounders is the chow -- not who owns the property. What the OP wondered was about all the hate directed at a restaurant chain whose dining experience clearly satisfies it's customers. Bad food - poor service - substandard sanitation, etc. are valid criticisms of interest to everyone. Silly criticism, to me, is about non-chowhound issues - like your personal preference of where you want to spend your dining dollars.
I guess I kinda take the attitude that it is a "gourmet diner". A HUGE menu with some things you know they will do well, and others that are totally skippable. I am not a fan of huge portitions, particually at a mall, where if I have my leftovers wrapped, I either have to run them to my car or carry them as I shop. But you don't leave there hungry! Their cheesecake is reliable. If you like it, you will not be dissappointed at ANY CF you hit. If you hate, you know to avoid it at all locations.
I had to reply. I like CF. Its decent food and I almost always bring home leftovers or can share a dish with someone. I only order one thing, the chicken piccata with extra sauce on the side. My husband likes the steak diane. When he is doing low carbs, he likes the fact he can order the low carb cheese cake for 6 net carbs.