LATEST
(Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

The Cheesecake Factory dinner fiasco

I want to go to their corporate office and ask how this tragedy ever happened.

Most people who know me know how much I love the Cheesecake Factory.

If you know me well, you know that I’m really only in it for the brown bread and the cheesecake.

And if you know me really well, you know the cake I get isn’t even cheesecake — it’s the chocolate tower truffle cake.

The chocolate tower truffle cake, as pictured on the Cheesecake Factory’s website. Look at those layers!  (Photo: thecheesecakefactory.com)

Now, the Cheesecake Factory has never let me down before. I went there for my dinner at prom, several girls’ dates and I’ll even order food to go when I feel like treating myself.

But my latest visit to the chain restaurant has left me wondering if I’ll ever go back.

Allow me to explain.

Santa blessed me with a Cheesecake gift card in my Christmas stocking this past year, and I decided that with the last semester of my undergraduate career just starting, a celebratory dinner date was in order.

I texted my boyfriend Thursday and told him when I got off work, we were going out. I was ready to indulge in that honey wheat brown bread and some sort of pasta.

We arrived at the Cheesecake Factory at the Fashion Fair Mall at about ten minutes to eight. I gave my boyfriend’s name to the hostess, and we waited until we were called.

This is where the trouble begins.

My boyfriend’s name is Daniel, and apparently there was another party of two who also gave the name Daniel. When the hostess called the name, we were both confused about whose table was actually ready, but I guess the other couple had arrived first.

I should have just lied and said it was our reservation, but I digress.

We continued to wait for another 20 minutes, growing hungrier and more impatient by the second.

Finally I hear “Daniel” called out again, and we follow the hostess to our table.

She led us to a dark booth in the very back of the restaurant. It was big enough for six people, which felt like a waste of room for a party of two, but I wasn’t about to complain. The wait had been long enough at this point, and I didn’t want to sit at one of those wicker chair-booth hybrid tables for two.

Finally, our waitress comes around and takes our drink orders. But the free bread appetizer is not mentioned.

Oh, no. I was not about to miss out on my brown bread.

“Um, I have a question real quick,” I said before she left. “Do you guys still bring out bread? Can we please just get the brown bread?”

I wasn’t going to mince words.

(I once claimed to be allergic to sourdough as an excuse for needing ALL of the brown bread, but you know, it’s easier to just be honest.)

The waitress comes back with the bread and a small dish typically filled with individually wrapped pats of butter. Instead, the dish was filled with a giant square of butter. It was very strange and a little unsettling. I ate it anyway.

Daniel and I flipped through the menus that we could barely read because of the notoriously dim lighting, and eventually, he decided on the fried shrimp platter and I ordered the chicken Parmesan “pizza style.”

My dish was a new item on the “Special Menu,” and this was the description: “Chopped Chicken Breast Coated with Breadcrumbs, Covered with Marinara Sauce and Lots of Melted Cheese. Topped with Angel Hair Pasta in an Alfredo Cream Sauce.”

This was not at all what I received.

I don’t really know what I imagined it to be. I guess I thought it would be cut-up pieces of chicken breast covered in marinara and cheese with the breadcrumbs tossed in, then topped with the pasta.

When I got my dish, it was, quite literally, a pizza with a serving of pasta on its center. There was a ton of cheese on top, creating a pool of oil around the pasta, and flakes of basil were sprinkled throughout the cheese.

The sinful chicken Parmesan “pizza style,” as pictured on the Cheesecake Factory website. Never again. (Photo: thecheesecakefactory.com)

The waiter who brought our food then offered me freshly grated Parmesan cheese to top the pasta. This will always be an awkward scenario between an employee and the patron, because of course I want a lot, but I have to say “when” after a socially-acceptable amount of time instead of allowing as much cheese as possible to overflow onto my plate.

I ate the pasta first, which was delicious. But then I got to the pizza part of the dish, and as I cut a slice, the bottom portion of it fell apart. The moisture from the marinara sauce, melted cheese and pasta must have weakened the center of the pizza, causing the slice to break apart.

I had no idea how to eat it.

I picked up the bottom piece that broke off, and upon taking a bite, I realized it wasn’t a pizza slice — it was chicken.

The entire “pizza” was the chicken breast, or pieces of chicken, pounded flat enough to imitate a thin crust.

Here is where it gets weirder. The chicken breast was then placed on rolled out dough that was wrapped a bit around the edges to create a traditional-looking pizza crust. It was then smothered in marinara and cheese, with the pasta on top.

It was just —

It was wrong. It was sinful.

I turned to Daniel and told him I couldn’t eat this. There wasn’t even pasta anymore to go along with it since I ate it first. It was just mass amounts of cheese and chicken. It was too much food, it was impossible to eat and it was just kind of gross.

I have never sent a dish back to the kitchen. And as awful as I felt about it, I knew it had to be done.

When our waitress came back around, I asked if there was anything to be done if I didn’t like my dish. She politely offered to take it back to the kitchen and remove it from our bill.

I felt incredibly guilty because 1. I was inconveniencing the waitress, 2. The date was pretty much ruined and 3. I was wasting food.

BUT IT WAS SO WRONG.

I don’t know how this dish made it past preliminary testing and onto the menu. The description in no way reflects what the customer gets, and it was just too much in every aspect of the dish.

I want to go to their corporate office and ask how this tragedy ever happened.

And the worst part was, I left without cheesecake.

I went online to see if there were any pictures of the dish, and the picture, although it is plated much nicer than mine was, did look like what I had ordered.

But it was not good.

I would not recommend this dish to anyone, unless you really, really like chicken Parmesan.

But even then, the adventure and chore of eating the meal is more trouble than it’s worth.

I went home that evening completely disappointed and, after losing all faith in the restaurant, I told Daniel that we don’t ever have to go back unless it’s for cake. 

And then, the very next day, I did go back.

I went in, got my chocolate tower truffle cake and I left. Which is exactly what I should have done to begin with.

My very own slice of the beautiful tower cake, enjoyed in the comfort of my own home.