The Cheesecake Factory: Everything cheesy, except for the chips

2 Oct

Unless you’ve been living in Montana or under a rock for the past 20 years, you’ve probably been to a Cheesecake Factory. Popularized by an American middle class that thinks chain restaurants, gaudy decor, and overpriced food is a great way to spend a night on the town, The Cheesecake Factory embraces a fairly simply business plan: if you put an endless assortment of items from varying cultural backgrounds on the menu, you’re probably going to please about 88% of people (vegans/people allergic Egyptian style columns and gold-leaf excluded). If you’ve been, you’ve no doubt spent at least half an hour reading the Homeric menu, only to be disappointed by flavors that clearly show an overstretched palate. As their website plainly touts, the Cheesecake Factory is an experience, and when it comes to the nachos, a predictably average one.

  • Appearance: (7.5) Smaller than we expected given their famously large serving sizes, but generally not terrible looking. They were a little burnt and dull, though the rainbow of guac, salsa, and sour cream added a nice pop.
  • Quality of toppings:  (9) At first we were dubious. We’ve had our fair share of bland entrees at the Cheesecake Factory, but these nachos actually had some really great flavor. The chicken was moist and peppery. The chips were thick and substantial (like Border!). The guac was refreshingly simple.
  • Distribution of toppings: (6) Fairly “unilayeral” (Oxford English Dictionary, you can have that one for free), but unbalanced by swatches of hard cheddar stuck to a few chips and the plate. The majority of the toppings ended up on a scant minority of chips, leaving us with two or three behemoths flanked by a dull, dry desert.
  • Price: (7) Some places you expect to pay a lot (case in point, Disney World). Sadly, Cheesecake Factory is one of those places. Portions here are large, and if you don’t go home with a doggy bag, you’ve most certainly over-indulged. The nachos, however, were sadly average. Good flavors, decent textures, but nothing fantastic and rather undeserving of the $11.72 price tag.
  • Overall: 29.5/40

We don’t want to disparage the Cheesecake Factory; they offer free drink refills, the staff is polite and friendly, it’s a great place for groups, the menu is big enough to keep everyone satisfied, and–most importantly–their NASDAQ stock symbol is “CAKE” (we like cake). But when you live in a city like Boston with so many great local restaurants, it’s almost embarrassing to eat at an overpriced chain. That said, it’s only a matter of time before we return…Except then, we might avoid the nachos and stick to what they do best (hint: meatloaf and bottomless lemonade).

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