Cheesecake Factory Edison
Sure, the light bulb was one of the worlds great inventions, but can glass encased filaments hold a candle to the Cheesecake Factory? These sprawling suburban chains are few and far between in the NYC area, so its only fitting that such a culinary innovator (fried macaroni and cheese, anyone?) would be in Edison, NJ. While seeking out the first American Uniqlo, we were ecstatic to discover Menlo Park Mall also housed a bustling Cheesecake Factory.
I’m still not quite clear what its raison d’etre is, other than cheesecake, of course. Red Lobster is seafood, Olive Garden is Italian, Outback Steakhouse is about as Australian as P.F. Changs is Chinese, but they have focus. Only one page of the menu and a glass case near the front of the restaurant are devoted to their namesake dessert. The rest of the ten-plus-page menu is a hodgepodge. And the Atlantic City casino meets ’90s Adam Tihany décor only complicates matters further.
It’s best to put such matters out of your head, suspend belief and live in the CF moment. Order a passion fruit ice tea, share a crispy crab wonton appetizer and then order monstrous barbecue ranch chicken salad (that looked like ais kacang if you squinted your eyes), and pretend it resembles something healthy. But save room for white chocolate chunk macadamia cheesecake. This was my lovely meal. Next time Ill try a glass of “The Cheesecake Factory,” a merlot specially bottled by Robert Mondavi. Pure class.
An aside: It’s odd how quickly we become sensitized to new rules. Smoking in bars feels like a tiny luxury, but seeing smoking in restaurants seems almost archaic. It wasnt that long ago that the smoking/non smoking section was perfectly acceptable. And I don’t have a problem with cigarettes (though it was strange to be blowing hundreds of dollars in Hong Kong, seated in the nonsmoking section millimeters from Germans exhaling smoke all over our overpriced beef) but it always seems weird that New Jersey chain diners dont care. Maybe Ive been living in over privileged, raising-a-stink over everything Carroll Gardens for too long. I mean, what about the children?
I should’ve thought twice about ordering a salad since I knew I’d only eat half in order to justify ordering cheesecake too. Salads dont exactly travel well. And I’m not one of those picky put sauces on the side folks, but CF goes overboard with their dressing. It was like I’d ordered soup and salad. But being the cheapskate that I am, I attempted to rescue and revive my leftover “salad” which was really more like coleslaw with corn, beans, avocado and chicken, by straining it in a colander for a second lunch. Yes, I am gross and desperate.
Cheesecake Factory * 455 Menlo Park Dr., Edison, NJ