Disclaimer: this restaurant serves Coke products.
I had heard things about the Cheesecake Factory. Mainly, that it had wonderful cheesecake. Considering myself an aficionado of all things cheesecake, and considering today was my birthday, my husband recomnmended that we go there for a slice of cheesecake.
Let's be realistic, he didn't have to twist my arm here.
Now, the Cheesecake Factory is located in Legacy Village, a highly upscale shopping plaza. I have never been overly comfortable shopping in Beachwood, as I always feel dirt poor. Pulling through the wrought-iron gates in our little Aveo as a limousine was pulling out the other side of the entryway did not do much to discourage that paranoia.
However, the need for cheesecake quickly overcame my insecurities, and the large orange building soon came into view. After driving around the wonderfully landscaped and maintained lot for a couple of minutes trying to find a parking space, we slowly made our way into the huge store.
I am not sure what I was expecting, but I can tell you, it wasn't what we got. I think I had the store pegged closer to a Baskin Robbins or maybe a coffee shop. I wasn't expecting the cathedral-sized doors, vaulted ceilings, marble tiled floors and immaculate sculptures and etched glass.
We walked in, and a large rounded desk awaited us. A very pleasant maitre d' asked us if we wanted smoking or non, and as I am on crutches, inquired if I wanted a table or a booth. We indicated nonsmoking and a booth, and she very chipperly (if that is a word) advised us that a server would be up momentarily, and what happened to my knee?
After a simple exchange of formalities, she wished me the best of health, and an equally pleasant server came and took us to our booth, even walking slowly to keep pace with my gimping.
The menu is closer to a book. Spiral bound, about 20 pages, laminated and with advertisements tucked in for Legacy Village stores, it took us several minutes to peruse and decide what we wished to eat. The server, Rachel I believe, was very patient, and got our drinks (without ice, like I always request, and probably 50% of the time do not get).
Our orders were simple: I got the small BLT salad, my husband ordered the lunch-sized Caesar, and an appetizer of fried macaroni balls. She brought out a basket of bread, and we waited for our meal.
It was during this time that my husband and I took note of the atmosphere. The tables and the room, massive I might add, are impeccable. The tables appear to be marble, with etched copper backsplashes. The booth was comfy, probably high-end vinyl. There was dark wood everywhere, and an open kitchen to the left of us. Columns seemed to take up various corners througout the dining area, and divider windows to the smoking section had large images of frosted geese.
Linens were heavy, and the silverware was obviously higher quality than most restaurants. Overall, this restaurant was obviously high-end hoity toity.
Our appetizer ($7.50) was brought out: breaded macaroni-and-cheese balls, baked over a bed of marinara sauce. I found the breading to be a bit salty, the inner mac-n-cheese was creamy and good. I think it had sour cream for the sauce. The appetizer came with four balls, maybe 2-3 inches in diameter. And the marinara sauce was fresh and delicious. Light, without too much garlic.
Then, the main course: salads. My small salad, I kid you not, was about a half a head of lettuce, tons of tomatoes, hard boiled egg, and some (miniscule amounts, actually) of bacon. It was fresh, tasty, and the "bacon" dressing was disgusting. I had it served on the side, to be safe, and I am so thankful. It was like a green onion soup or something... gross.
My husband's salad, the Caesar, was humongous. Imagine a large pasta bowl filled up, then more heaped upon it. That is the idea. I tried a bite, and it had a strong garlic flavor... my husband said it was light, though, and munched quite a bit.
Overall, lunch was quite yummy.
Dessert, well, that was an adventure. Two huge slices of cheesecake. I tried the original and my husband had the Oreo Mudslide concoction.
Rich, creamy... sweet and filling. I couldn't finish my piece. My husband snarfed his, which was VERY rich... and promptly entered into a sugar buzz. He took the first bite and his eyes rolled back into his head. I actually got jealous of the pie...
All in all, we paid about $53, including tip, for lunch. It is a bit steep for a normal lunch, but the dessert was good and the customer service was fabulous. The only thing that held back the 5th star, for me, was the hoity toity atmosphere. The staff didn't give it off, however, the fellow diners did.
If you don't mind feeling like you don't make enough money, make sure you mention the Jag is in the shop. People seem to be highly judgmental here.